Author Topic: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)  (Read 142108 times)

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Offline krummholz

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #780 on: August 24, 2021, 04:13:14 AM »
Holmboe's SQ #20, 'Notturno' is, for me, the least obviously connected to the titular superscription given to it. I enjoy it as a work in its own right, but it is less programmatic in its content, I think - unless Holmboe doesn't sleep very long or very well! It could certainly be indicative of a level of sleeplessness!

The opening movement has a real residual energy that underlies the piece, and only gradually winds to any sort of calm by the closing few moments, before again picking up energy as it moves into II, rather than descending into a more soporific tone. The first indication of connection to the time of day arrives in III. It is less boisterous, less fraught, with violin and viola lines working together to create a more flowing change of pace that could be said to be nighttime. Even that doesn't last, as the hints of peace and anticipated exhalations which hovered with the interlocking strings, is interrupted with the fourth movement. It isn't a soothing or calming progression. Only when Holmboe commences another odd-numbered movement does it feel like a Notturno again. I like the sedative cello line, introducing the quietening viola and violin, which feels like a fleeting atmosphere of calm. I guess there is a brevity to Nordic summer nights that perhaps Holmboe seeks to convey here, unwilling for the night and the gentleness of rest and repose to pervade in any way, because by the time he opens the final movement, energy is building again toward the final darkness before the dawn. The first rays of light don't seem far away, frankly, with the way in which he returns to almost the place where the Mattinata started this mini-cycle. Running the close of #20 back into #17 has a sense of musical coherence, but I don't think I would enjoy much refreshment if this was my Nordic nighttime!

I like the piece, but it is enigmatic to me!

Wow, I missed this post earlier! Thank you for your very cogent observations... Yes, I had forgotten the 3rd movement, so I have to agree that it is the odd-numbered movements that are the most "nocturnal" for me. I guess I don't find it quite as enigmatic as you do - each movement has its own unique character though, and whether they "hang together" as a coherent whole seems to vary from hearing to hearing. I'm about to embark on another listening cycle through all of Holmboe's recorded music (at least, the recordings I have ;)), so I'll likely have a new reaction in a couple months or so.

Offline krummholz

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #781 on: August 24, 2021, 04:18:14 AM »
Even though I have the Nightingales' SQ #1, I've actually yet to play it so I can't give you my comparisons (yet) of their reading with that of the Kontras, which I adore. My feeling from listening to the Kontras is of a mature composer who has completely assimilated the Eastern European folk influence and is exploring some of the same territory that Bartok explored in his earlier years. I agree that there are many bright lines and harmonies in it, but also a starkness of line in many places, though this could be the Kontras rather than Holmboe!

Looking forward to hearing the Nightingales play this soon... I want to listen to Holmboe in chronological order and this work is actually from his middle period (1946 or so), so it could be a few weeks... there won't be a lot of time for concentrated listening once the semester starts, which is next Monday.

Online foxandpeng

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #782 on: August 24, 2021, 10:49:19 AM »
Wow, I missed this post earlier! Thank you for your very cogent observations... Yes, I had forgotten the 3rd movement, so I have to agree that it is the odd-numbered movements that are the most "nocturnal" for me. I guess I don't find it quite as enigmatic as you do - each movement has its own unique character though, and whether they "hang together" as a coherent whole seems to vary from hearing to hearing. I'm about to embark on another listening cycle through all of Holmboe's recorded music (at least, the recordings I have ;)), so I'll likely have a new reaction in a couple months or so.

I've very much enjoyed hearing #17-20 both individually and as a cycle within a cycle, played in order. I've also valued the comments made by yourself and historically in the thread by Madiel. I'm hoping that as you make your way through the rest of his oeuvre, that you post up some thoughts.

Even though I have the Nightingales' SQ #1, I've actually yet to play it so I can't give you my comparisons (yet) of their reading with that of the Kontras, which I adore. My feeling from listening to the Kontras is of a mature composer who has completely assimilated the Eastern European folk influence and is exploring some of the same territory that Bartok explored in his earlier years. I agree that there are many bright lines and harmonies in it, but also a starkness of line in many places, though this could be the Kontras rather than Holmboe!

Looking forward to hearing the Nightingales play this soon... I want to listen to Holmboe in chronological order and this work is actually from his middle period (1946 or so), so it could be a few weeks... there won't be a lot of time for concentrated listening once the semester starts, which is next Monday.

I am somewhat torn as to whether some of the rawness and astringency that I hear in the Kontra performances are deliberately reflective how #1 is 'meant' to sound. I do also like what feels cleaner and warmer in the Nightingale, though. Thankfully, there is plenty of room for both. I do commend it to you as a decent account, however. Listening to the rest of the cycle with the Kontra is going well!

I hope your return to the new semester isn't too stressful and that VH still finds his place :-). Listening chronologically sounds great. Again, please do share the falling fruit of your foraging!