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Ib NORHØLM (b.1931)
Violin Concerto (1975)
Cello Concerto (1989)
Kishiko Suzumi (violin)
Erling Blöndahl Bengtsson (cello)
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Tamás Vetö
rec. 1991 DDD
KONTRAPUNKT 32099 [61.06]

Nørholm was a student of Holmboe at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. By the end of the 1950s he had written a stream of lyrical Nordic works in a style built around the music of Nielsen. He left this style behind from the 1960s onwards as he embraced influences fom the Darmstadt avant-garde. However in the Violin Concerto he avoids doctrinaire isolationism. Instead we have a romantically lyrical dissonant violin concerto rather similar to the Berg, at times to the Frankel concerto and at other times to the Korngold! It is lightened by delicate half-lights from the percussion section and by music box interludes such as the sweetened innocence of the episode at 9.50 in the first movement. It is derived from his score for a TV opera based on a Nabokov novel and particularly for the music associated with the main character Cincinnatus. The solo violin in that first production was played by Leo Hansen (b. 1911) for many years first violin of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Hansen was rtaught by Peder Møller who in 1912 premiered the Nielsen Violin Concerto. Hansen premiered the Nørholm concerto on 27 November 1975 with the DRSO conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. A lovely work which you should try if you have been looking for something with which to follow the Berg. Certainly it is a contrast with the adamantine rockface of the Fifth Symphony featured on another Kontrapunkt disc.

The Cello Concerto is very much later. It is in three movements entitled With Open Eyes; Echoes; Reflections on Simplicity. It is played by one of the leading cellists of his generation and was in fact written for Bengtsson. There is less of the wide-eyed utopian fantasy in this work than in the Violin Concerto of fifteen years earlier. Fragments of the Elgar concerto are quoted in the Echoes middle movement. The final movement has some moment of brutality but on the whole tenderness is once again in the ascendant. Bengtsson premiered the concerto on 9 February 1990 with the DRSO conducted by Richard Duffallo.

It is a pity that the individual movements are not separately tracked rather than with index points.

The helpful liner notes are by Knud Ketting.

Here are two challenging concertos by Ib Nørholm. Tough they may be but the humanity of this music never falters. Superb performances by Suzumi and Bengtsson

Rob Barnett



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