Vagn Holmboe: Concertos for Violin, Viola and Orchestra / Erik Heide; Lars Anders Tomter


The excellent Vagn Holmboe series from Dacapo continues with this superb recording of three concertos. Performances are by the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dima Slobodeniouk with soloists Erik Heide and Lars Anders Tomter, violin and viola respectively. By my count, this is release number seventeen in this authoritative series, with many performances that will likely stand as benchmarks for many years to come. The three works on this CD are all world premiere recordings.

Holmboe (1909-1996) was an extraordinarily prolific composer. Between the chamber concertos and concertinos (both earlier works written before 1956), ensemble concertos (e.g. concerto for strings), and those designated simply "Concerto" as we have here, there are some thirty compositions. The works on this disc are Concerto for Viola, Op. 189 (1992), Concerto for Violin No. 2, Op. 139 (1979), and the Concerto for Orchestra (1929), a striking and significantly earlier work written prior to Holmboe's Opus one. It appears here not only as a world premiere recording, but a premiere performance as well.

For those who have not been following this important series and are unfamiliar with Holmboe, his music is tonal (albeit, it's an extended tonality, highly dissonant at times) and written in a neoclassical style with an emphasis on technique - rhythm, counterpoint, form, et cetera. Dynamic, colorful and interesting, it's also striking how uniform his musical language is across the nearly seven decades represented here. Holmboe set his creative course early, influenced by the music of his primary teacher Carl Nielsen, as well as Hindemith, Bartók, Stravinsky and Shostakovich.

The sample provided is the first movement of the Concerto for Viola, Op. 189, which, in terms of dissonance, is fairly representative of all of the music on this CD. The Danish label Dacapo demonstrates the vital role that independent record labels serve with ventures such as this one. We would have had to wait forever, and then some, for any major record label to undertake this important and enriching project.