> Holmboe Brass Concertos [RB]: Classical Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)
Concerto No. 11 for trumpet and orchestra (1948)
Concerto No. 12 for trombone and orchestra (1950)
Tuba Concerto (1976)
Intermezzo Concertante for tuba and orchestra (1987)
Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet)
Christian Lindberg (trombone)
Jens Bjørn-Larsen (tuba)
Aalborg SO/Owain Arwel Hughes
rec June 1996, Aalborg DDD
BIS-CD-802 [55.26]
CD available for post-free online mail-order or you may download individual tracks. For some labels you can download the entire CD with a single click and make HUGE savings. The price you see is the price you pay! The full booklet notes are available on-line.

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The 1948 Trumpet Concerto is designated No. 11 to the No. 12 of the 1950 Trombone Concerto. It is joined by the unnumbered Tuba Concerto written a full quarter century after the trombone work. Each of the three is more or less a quarter hour long with the trumpet and tuba works being in one movement even if the 1948 work is banded into three.

I am not sure about the word 'austere' used in Knud Ketting's notes to describe the trumpet work. Certainly it is not lush but then neither is it as forbidding as, say, the Symphonic Metamorphoses. The orchestral tissue of the Trumpet Concerto is highly imaginative: cool, clear, ruminative while the trumpet part is jaunty and concisely defiant. The 2 minute poco lento is succeeded by the pointful flickering and nonchalant Allegro con brio. This breaks the mould with the sort of trumpet playing (glorious work from Håkan Hardenberger) and ripe invention that boils up in the theme from Dynasty but twisted from the brass writing that runs through Vaughan Williams' works of the 1950s. The last movement is the one to sample. It is bound to win new friends for Holmboe and is superior in invention to the really rather good trumpet concerto by Malcolm Arnold.

The Trombone Concerto is of similar vintage. It shares the tight and light string writing of the Trumpet Concerto as well as its melodic shaping. It ranges through rougher terrain and breathes the fresh and sometimes uproarious air of the Nielsen flute and clarinet concertos. Neo-classicism also has its brief place in the scathing virtuoso of the Allegro molto.

The Tuba Concerto came about through an approach from the ambitious young tuba player of the Odense orchestra. Jorgen Voigt Arnsted took the composer through the tuba virtuoso's primer and the composer absorbed the techniques into the work. The music seems more abstruse than jolly although there are some perky episodes including some suggestive of RVW. Another player, Michael Lind, for whom Holmboe had written a sonata, commissioned the Intermezzo Concertante. If it lacks the vivid invention of the concerto it is certainly atmospheric.

All the works save the Trumpet Concerto receive world premiere recordings on this typically well recorded and presented BIS CD.

Rob Barnett

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