> Vagn Holmboe [TB]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)
Symphony No. 8 'Sinfonia Boreale'
Symphony No. 9
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes
Rec 7-15 June 1993, Musikhuset Aarhus
BIS CD-618 [65.25]
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.

NOTE • Click on the button and you can buy the disc or read the booklet details • You can also access each track which you may then sample or down load. • Further Information.


Vagn Holmboe is a major symphonic composer, and these two symphonies are among his finest creations. Taken from the complete recording by these performers, this disc of Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9 in many ways represents an ideal introduction to Holmboe's orchestral music.

Symphony No. 8 has the subtitle 'Sinfonia Boreale', indicating its links with Nordic imageries. Written in 1953, it is a strongly structured and purposeful work of some 35 minutes' duration. The four movements adopt clearly balanced and focused identities that have much in common with the traditional four movement layout of the symphony, with a particularly dramatic driving scherzo which is placed second in the sequence. This music makes a strong impression at first hearing, which is why this work is an ideal introduction to Holmboe. But the remaining movements, different though they are, maintain the quality of invention.

Holmboe is an assured orchestrator, but the weight of symphonic line and argument is always his priority, and he never uses the colouring of instrumental combinations to merely engage the ear on a surface level. Rather everything is in its appropriate place in the scheme of things, just as we might say, for example, of the symphonies of Brahms. Perhaps he also owes a debt to his great Danish predecessor Carl Nielsen in this regard. The symphony is also a strongly cohesive work on the larger scale, across its four movements. Thus the final stages are a genuine culmination, powerful in their integrated logic.

All these observations stem also from the qualities of the performance, and Owain Arwel Hughes proves himself an excellent conductor of this music. The orchestral playing is clear in focus, tight in ensemble, and well characterised, while the BIS sound is as clear and reliable as ever.

These virtues can also be experienced in the Symphony No. 9. This followed the Eighth by a distance of some thirteen years, surprising as that may seem for so committed a symphonist. In fact it took a commission from the Danish Broadcasting Commission to encourage Holmboe to return to symphonic action, and he completed the score in 1968, having revised it after the first performance. The dedication, interestingly, was given to the eminent French musicologist and teacher Nadia Boulanger.

The biggest difference between the two works is that the Ninth has an altogether more sophisticated orchestral palette (which does not make it the better work). There are five closely linked movements, three of them 'substantially symphonic', while movements two and four take the form of intermezzos, scored only for strings. Hughes and his orchestra pace the music carefully, and again the results are at once convincing and satisfying.

Terry Barfoot


CD Price: £ 12.08 -
Buy CD:
Download all tracks:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

Symphony no.8 op.56 'Sinfonia boreale'

Allegro molto intensivo

Tempo giusto

Andante con Moto

Allegro passionato


HOLMBOE
Symphony no.9 op.95


Allegro fluente

Intermezzo I

Allegro con fuoco

Intermezzo II

Andante austero


You require QuickTime to listed to samples.

Get a free QuickTime download here



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION • You can sample only 30 seconds (or 15% if that is longer) of a given track. Select from the View tracks list. Each sample will normally start from the beginning but you can drag the slider to any position before pressing play. • PLEASE NOTE: If you are behind a firewall and the sound is prematurely terminated you may need to register Ludwig as a trusted source with your firewall software. •You will need Quicktime to hear sound samples. Get a free Quicktime download here • If you cannot see the "Sample All Tracks" button you need to download Flash from here.

Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.