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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)
Concerto No. 8 Sinfonia Concertante Op. 38 M.148 (1945) [19.07]
Concerto No. 10 Træ Messing og Tarm (Wood, Brass and Gut) Op. 40 M.150 (1945-46) [17.46]
Concerto Giocondo e Severo Op. 132 M.288 (1977) [10.40]
Den Galsindede Tyrk (The Ill-Tempered Turk) ballet suite Op. 32b M.242 (1944-45) [19.28]
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes
rec. Aalborghallen, Aalborg, Denmark, May 1998 (Opp. 32b, 132), June 1999 (Opp. 38, 40) DDD
BIS-CD-917 [68.16]


Another Holmboe disc from Bis is always welcome. Here we have three works from the insular mid-1940s and one from the international years of the 1970s. These three chamber concertos have in common that they do not feature solo parts - unlike the other ten. There are thirteen of these Holmboe concertos if you include the 1977 Concerto Giocondo e Severo.

The Eighth is in two movements characterised by strongly rhythmic writing and with Holmboe's rhythmically thudding figures much in evidence. Similar epic stomps can be found in Hilding Rosenberg's Third Symphony. Holmboe avoids the 'modernism' of dodecaphony instead deploying a language that is an extrusion of and evolution from Nielsen's writing in the Fifth Symphony. This meshes with the sort of string writing we find in Tippett's works of the 1930s and 1940s. The Tenth Concerto is in nine episodes (each banded separately). Much of it is sanguine, celebratory, never trite and as full of intriguing detail as a Dutilleux score. The Op. 132 Concerto is for a much larger orchestra than the other two although, as usual, Holmboe makes restrained rather than epicurean use of it. The work is no longer than a standard concert overture. Once again the Holmboe characteristic of shuddering impacts seeming to release blossoming fields of flowers (e.g. 6.03) is in evidence along with a truly symphonic nobility. In its antiphonal clashes this recalls Arnold Rosner's prelude to The Chronicle of Nine.

During the years of the Nazi occupation of Denmark Holmboe wrote a complete ballet to the 1001 Nights tale 'The Ill-Tempered Turk' by Alex Salto (1889-1961). The Arabian fantasy theme was not exactly alien to Danish culture; witness Nielsen's music to Oehlenschlager's 'Aladdin'. In 1969 Holmboe produced a five movement suite from the Den Galsindede Tyrk music he had written between 1942 and 1944. The music includes the black-hearted squealing and stamping of The Dance of the Executioner, the Dance of the two spirits - a twilight stroll evolving into slamming splendour, the cool pan-pipe soliloquy of Dance of the Trees (like Rosenberg), the violent dissonant Sword dance of the sultan and the Dance of folks and warriors with its skirling woodwind - part-Celtic and part-Hungarian. There are no Rimskian touches in this - nothing with an Oriental sway. The ballet has never been performed. I hope that Bis have pencilled it in to record the original score complete.

Another valuable Holmboe collection from Bis. Not necessarily the place to start your Holmboe collection (the symphonies 4-6 fit that bill) but those who have already tried and liked the music of this Danish master will want to add these works to their 'singing in the bath' repertoire.

Rob Barnett

 



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