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Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-96)
Chamber Concertos - Vol. 3
No. 7 for oboe and chamber orchestra (1944-45)
No. 8 for orchestra
Sinfonia Concertante (1945)
No. 9 for violin, viola and orchestra (1945-46)

Max Artved (oboe)
Mikkel Futtrup (violin)
Tim Frederiksen (viola)
Danish Radio Sinfonietta/Hannu Koivula
rec Jan, Feb 1997
DA CAPO (Marco Polo) 8.224086 [61.56]

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This disc includes three 20 minute concertos, two of them (7 and 8) in two movements and No. 9 in three. All date from the era 1944-46 - an emergence from darkness to light.

The Oboe Concerto defies expectations raised by the genre generally and then specifically by the haunting Molto moderato first section. The allegro non troppo part of the first movement links to the accented piston hammering of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. This is sometimes bright and eager music. The allegretto finale with the tapping out of the side-drum recalls Nielsen. The roughened neo-classical approach of the allegro con brio of the Sinfonia Concertante (1945) gives way to the andante con variazioni (there are eight variations). This andante and the succeeding variations demonstrate how attached Holmboe was, at that stage, to Shostakovich's style.

The squally, suave, earthy yet vulnerable Violin and Viola Concerto has several obvious reference points although, as usual, these do not infer any homage or influence. Listen out, for example, to two Holst works - the Lyric Movement for viola and orchestra and the Double Violin Concerto, Britten's Grimes and even, Beethoven's Seventh (a work which also stalks the inspiration of Martinu's approximately contemporaneous Fifth Symphony). Joy and delight are unleashed in the finale in Shostakovich-like abandon. At the close the work stomps and shouts with hats thrown high in the air.

The strengths of Mikkel Futtrup (violin) and Tim Frederiksen (viola) are by now well known to us. Max Artved (oboe) takes the heroically lyrical line inherent in his instrument but by no means obvious or easy in a work which is just as often explosive as it is songful.

Typical of the whole of this series that it is excellently annotated and recorded.

Robert Barnett

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