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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Guido on March 18, 2009, 06:25:12 AM

Title: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Guido on March 18, 2009, 06:25:12 AM
No thread for this fine composer yet. I have long adored his cello concerto which seems both very modern (post modern) and very traditional simultaneously - it is beautifully written for cello and orchestra, imaginative, lyrical and powerful.

He is very highly regarded as a symphonist ('the greatest Danish symphonist after Nielsen') I think and I was just wondering if we had any fans of his symphonies here (Colin? :)). Where does one start?

Also I remember being profoundly moved when I heard his Requiem for Nietzsche - one of the most powerful 20th century choral works.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 18, 2009, 08:41:35 AM
Big Holmboe fan here, as confessed many times before, often in less suitable places.

No time at this moment to tell exactly what and why. Enough for now to say that I even met the great man in person and spent a long Summer afternoon with him in his home in the countryside in the North of Sjaelland, some 25 miles from Copenhagen, in August 1995.

A great composer and an impressive man, too. He died a year later. I'm always moved again when I play his music, especially the symphonies, but also the concertos and the pieces you mention.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Guido on March 18, 2009, 09:08:52 AM
Well if you feel you have time to post more of your thoughts here, I would be most interested to read them. Which are the finest symphonies in your opinion?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Dundonnell on March 18, 2009, 10:30:59 AM
Yeh, I will join in here later tonight :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: donaldopato on March 18, 2009, 02:26:46 PM
I always find his symphonies worth a listen. However for me the 8th "Sinfonia Boreale" stands out and is the one I tend to listen to the most. Compact, dramatic, organic, powerful and not a note wasted or out of place.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Dundonnell on March 18, 2009, 03:39:01 PM
In my opinion Holmboe is the most distinguished Scandinavian composer of the post Nielsen and Sibelius generations, a finer composer than Saeverud in Norway or even Rosenberg in Sweden. I would put him as one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century.

Again..there is a good deal about Holmboe in the Scandinavian composers' thread already but he does fully deserve a thread of his own :) Johan(Christo) has written about Holmboe in that thread too and has had the huge honour and pleasure of actually meeting Holmboe.

I can't think easily of a finer set of symphonies than Holmboe's thirteen(fourteen if you include the Sinfonia In Memoriam of 1955) which, fortunately, received quite fantastic treatment from BIS with a provincial Danish orchestra(the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra) under the Welsh conductor Owain Arwel Hughes absolutely excelling themselves in marvellous performances which brought great joy to the composer(No.13 was dedicated to Hughes and Holmboe heard it performed shortly before his death). They are indisputably Nordic works, intense, brooding, often quite dark but with a spirituality and integrity which reminds me of British composers like Rubbra or Simpson. In other words, one knows immediately that this is a composer of real purpose who knows exactly what he wants to do-regardless of fashion-and whose work has a dignity which is hugely impressive.

I wouldn't want to single out a particular Holmboe symphony-but I would say that from No.5 onwards we are able to hear the mature Holmboe voice and that each symphony after that is a masterpiece using the technique of metamorphosis to continuously develop initial ideas. Sometimes, therefore, one has to listen to a Holmboe symphony with a lot of care and attention. Individual passages may not jump out at the listener, but the whole is undoubtedly much greater than any single part of the work.

The huge set of 13 Chamber Concertos(all of them recorded by Danacord) for all manner of instruments is well worth collecting as well. Nor should Holmboe's marvellous set of twenty-one string quartets be ignored. One of my favourite discs is the BIS recording of the Four Symphonic Metamorphoses(Hughes again but this time with the Aalborg orchestra)-tremendous, pithy examples of Holmboe's orchestral technique.

Guido has mentioned the Cello Concerto and the Requiem for Nietzsche but there is actually a lot of Holmboe which-amazingly-is still to make it to disc. I am utterly amazed that neither Dacapo in Denmark nor BIS in Sweden have recorded the four Chamber Symphonies or many of the concertos:

Violin Concerto (1938), Concertino No.1 for Violin, Viola and strings(1940), Concertino No.2 for Violin and strings(1940), Violin Concerto, op.127(1976), Violin Concerto No.2, op.139(1979), Viola, op.189, Concerto for Two Violins, Viola and Cello, op.195

are all still awaiting recording!

I am delighted that Guido started this thread and allowed a further opportunity to sing the praises of one of the 20th century's greatest composers(and that is NOT hyperbole ;D)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Guido on March 18, 2009, 03:57:20 PM
Thanks Colin - this is what I expected (and as I feared! ;D) - Another great composer to explore then!

Hmm... that complete symphonies box might have to wait a bit longer (it's a bit more expensive than the Atterberg...) Maybe I'll get it as a treat for myself for my birthday!  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2009, 07:55:47 AM
I always find his symphonies worth a listen. However for me the 8th "Sinfonia Boreale" stands out and is the one I tend to listen to the most. Compact, dramatic, organic, powerful and not a note wasted or out of place.

Thanks for prompting a revisitation!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on March 20, 2009, 03:59:59 AM
Some landmarks to start with?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on March 20, 2009, 04:14:04 AM
Some landmarks to start with?

The only thing close to a "landmark" I can think of is his 8th Symphony, already mentioned by others. Great piece.

He wrote a lot, so it's hard to know what's really good and what's not.

Not a landmark, but I'll put in a rec for his two brass 5tets - serious brass music is unfortunately quite rare.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on March 20, 2009, 04:40:33 AM
Not a landmark, but I'll put in a rec for his two brass 5tets - serious brass music is unfortunately quite rare.

Speaking as someone who has written a bit for that medium, I should be keen to hear Holmboe's quintets.

Although I have yet to do the repeat listens which will give me purchase on the music's granularity . . . the whole of the symphony cycle I find exciting, inspired, marvelously colored.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on March 20, 2009, 05:00:31 PM
As I've been trying to convince Dundonnel  about Sessions, it might seem strange that I've had problems with Holmboe/Simpson!  eh what???

And it's difficult for me to separate these two composers.

Maybe it's just the overwhelming intensity these two convey (especially Simpson).  Symphony "borealis" and Simpson's cosmic 9th aside, and leaving Simpson out of the argument for the purposes of the thread, let me just say that I know I supposed to like Holmboe, and I certainly respect him for the towering figure he is, but when I listened to his music I found myself liking Aulis Sallinen better, and I believe this is due just to my own stylistic taste and nothing more. So Holmboe for me is a composer I respect...ah, "cup of tea."

Of course being Mr. String Quartet I was obliged to hunt down the dacapo discs and I got 7, 8, 9 on ebay, and...I was reminded of Simpson's first three quartets @1951, and my only comment would be, yes, craftsmanship, yes, interesting ideas and rhythmic drive, but something didn't reaaallly touch me, like when I first heard Bartok's 3rd. 

I then tried 10, 11, 12, and I was yet again frustrated. Yes, he changes the number of movements a lot, and yes, there's a LOT there, but this time I was really ticked off.  I knew there had to be a masterpiece somewhere in there.  Would I have to go back to 1-6 to find an early charmer, or head into the great unknown where I feared I would only find unyielding intensity a la Simpson.  I read in the Penguin G that 13, 14, 15 IS the one to go for first, but since selling the ones I had, I have yet to return to Holmboe country.

I do actually have a LOT of Scandanavian quartets, for various reasons, so I can tell you that it really bugged me that I didn't warm up to Holmboe (and I HAVE tried other music other than the quartets). The Cello Cto was getting good marks on this thread.  That might be a place for me to start.

Rosenberg comes way before Holmboe, so it's not fair to compare, but for me, Rosenberg has a bit more of the earth in his quartets, the actual air of Sweden,                ( though not .in a nationalistic way, more nature).  Rosenberg wrote 6 quartets in 1957, so it IS interesting to see the crossroads between these two.

so, besides symphony "Borealis", what IS the Holmboe masterpiece?  Many say it's the 4 Symphonic movements.

btw- BIS cds are always VERRRY expensive$$$!!!  Wouldn't it be great that if you lived in a socialist country, they would automatically send you state sponsored entertainment??? yea, right! I forgot ABBA!!!!!haha
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 21, 2009, 11:39:44 AM
In my view his greatest works are symphonies 6-8 and 10. He is a very important and impressive composer. Although I listen to Tubin more, I think that Holmboe is perhaps the greater composer.  He sent me a lovely reply to my fan letter a few years before he died. The opening of Symphony 4 is very impressive and that of No 6 very moving. This is searching, visionary and often poetic music - reminds me a bit of Rubbra in England.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Grazioso on March 22, 2009, 04:39:12 AM
Thanks Colin - this is what I expected (and as I feared! ;D) - Another great composer to explore then!

Hmm... that complete symphonies box might have to wait a bit longer (it's a bit more expensive than the Atterberg...) Maybe I'll get it as a treat for myself for my birthday!  ;D

The BIS set of Holmboe's symphonies is worth every penny (as is the CPO box of Atterberg's!). This is really impressive music that I've been slowly digging into over the last few months. Even if you don't ultimately warm to him--though I did right away--you'll probably come to agree that he's a very substantial composer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on March 31, 2009, 05:26:38 PM
I've been checking into Niels Viggo Bentzon, who studied with Holmboe.  His syms. 3-7 get rave reviews everywhere.  Is Bentzon the "secret" Holmboe?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Dundonnell on April 01, 2009, 07:28:20 AM
I've been checking into Niels Viggo Bentzon, who studied with Holmboe.  His syms. 3-7 get rave reviews everywhere.  Is Bentzon the "secret" Holmboe?

That is an interesting question :)

I really have not heard enough Bentzon to be able to rate him properly. The symphonies I have heard-Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8-are all impressive works, particularly Nos. 3 and 4. They are impressively serious, using the same sort of 'metamorphosis' technique emplyed by Holmboe. But Bentzon's style developed over time into something much more avant-garde. To what extent he maintained his earlier style in parallel with more experimental techniques I don't know because he was an astonishingly prolific composer-24 symphonies, 41 concertos(including eight piano concertos)! It is difficult to imagine that he maintained the same high standard throughout this huge worklist. The later music has gone almost entirely unrecorded.
Maybe Dacapo-when they have finished recording other Danish composers-will turn to Bentzon's music?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on April 01, 2009, 10:41:42 AM
I'm interesting in the music of Vagn Holmboe because my favourite composer is his student and lifelong friend Per Norgard. So far I've only heard the piano trio Nuigen but was rather underwhelmed. It's a little too foursquare and prim for me, like 1920s Stravinsky. Has Holmboe written anything that can be called gritty complexity?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on April 01, 2009, 10:52:37 AM
gritty complexity?- may I suggest Sessions syms. 6,7, & 9 on Argo?  ahhh....that felt good.

Dundonnel- I was checking Bentzon on Wilhelm Hanson Ed....at least 14 string quartets! oy!  but his discography is very spotty...the perfect composer for a woodwind collector, it appears!  He has a 20 min Volga Boatman variations for solo cello!  Some say 560 opp., some say 660...I'm quite interested in the syms 3-4 now.  I think it's only fair that Bentzon be included in this thread...lots of similarities...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on June 14, 2009, 07:11:17 AM
TTT, a revisitation of this lovely post:

In my opinion Holmboe is the most distinguished Scandinavian composer of the post Nielsen and Sibelius generations, a finer composer than Saeverud in Norway or even Rosenberg in Sweden. I would put him as one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century.

Again..there is a good deal about Holmboe in the Scandinavian composers' thread already but he does fully deserve a thread of his own :) Johan(Christo) has written about Holmboe in that thread too and has had the huge honour and pleasure of actually meeting Holmboe.

I can't think easily of a finer set of symphonies than Holmboe's thirteen(fourteen if you include the Sinfonia In Memoriam of 1955) which, fortunately, received quite fantastic treatment from BIS with a provincial Danish orchestra(the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra) under the Welsh conductor Owain Arwel Hughes absolutely excelling themselves in marvellous performances which brought great joy to the composer(No.13 was dedicated to Hughes and Holmboe heard it performed shortly before his death). They are indisputably Nordic works, intense, brooding, often quite dark but with a spirituality and integrity which reminds me of British composers like Rubbra or Simpson. In other words, one knows immediately that this is a composer of real purpose who knows exactly what he wants to do-regardless of fashion-and whose work has a dignity which is hugely impressive.

I wouldn't want to single out a particular Holmboe symphony-but I would say that from No.5 onwards we are able to hear the mature Holmboe voice and that each symphony after that is a masterpiece using the technique of metamorphosis to continuously develop initial ideas. Sometimes, therefore, one has to listen to a Holmboe symphony with a lot of care and attention. Individual passages may not jump out at the listener, but the whole is undoubtedly much greater than any single part of the work.

The huge set of 13 Chamber Concertos(all of them recorded by Danacord) for all manner of instruments is well worth collecting as well. Nor should Holmboe's marvellous set of twenty-one string quartets be ignored. One of my favourite discs is the BIS recording of the Four Symphonic Metamorphoses(Hughes again but this time with the Aalborg orchestra)-tremendous, pithy examples of Holmboe's orchestral technique.

Guido has mentioned the Cello Concerto and the Requiem for Nietzsche but there is actually a lot of Holmboe which-amazingly-is still to make it to disc. I am utterly amazed that neither Dacapo in Denmark nor BIS in Sweden have recorded the four Chamber Symphonies or many of the concertos:

Violin Concerto (1938), Concertino No.1 for Violin, Viola and strings(1940), Concertino No.2 for Violin and strings(1940), Violin Concerto, op.127(1976), Violin Concerto No.2, op.139(1979), Viola, op.189, Concerto for Two Violins, Viola and Cello, op.195

are all still awaiting recording!

I am delighted that Guido started this thread and allowed a further opportunity to sing the praises of one of the 20th century's greatest composers(and that is NOT hyperbole ;D)

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: monafam on August 12, 2009, 03:00:55 AM
Yet another composer I sort of stumbled across who I really enjoy.  I recently got his 1st, 3rd, & 10th symphonies and his Cello Concerto.  I've listened to the first three and hope to get to the Cello Concerto later today. 

Really enjoy what I'm hearing so far. 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on August 12, 2009, 03:44:49 AM
Yes, I've listened to all the symphonies (though I need to get to know them better yet) and a smattering of quartets and chamber concertos.  I've liked everything of Holmboe's that I have heard!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on December 24, 2009, 02:55:00 AM
I'm hearing rumours that dacapo is starting to record the string quartets. I'm aware of the older series with the Kontra quartet which mostly seems to be oop, so perhaps I would be even happier if they reissued them real cheap. Still, giving the amazing quality of recent dacapo issues of Nørgaard, Nielsen and Langgaard, this would be a very interesting event, with the only quorum being whether to buy them as they appear, or wait for the box.....
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on December 24, 2009, 05:41:30 AM
(I don't think you mean quorum there, do you?)
 
I'll wait for the box;  I know I shall want 'em all.
 
What of the chamber concertos?!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on December 24, 2009, 06:00:33 AM
(I don't think you mean quorum there, do you?)

Probably not. I meant quandary; I think.....
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: jowcol on December 24, 2009, 06:14:15 AM
Funny that this thread came up-- I was planning a Holmboe post today -- I've been stuck on the first two movements of Holmboe's 5th for the last couple days, and can't force myself to listen to anything else.  Although the last movement doesn't seem to fit as well (a bit too happy), the first two movements are really dynamic, vital, and a wonderful mix of swagger and introspection-- I get a Vaughan Williams vs Shostakovitch death match vibe in a way.  I've liked all of the symphonies I've heard (opening movement of the 4th is great), but every time I look him up on my mp3 player the  Fifth just grabs me and insists on being listened to.

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on December 24, 2009, 06:28:41 AM
Funny that this thread came up-- I was planning a Holmboe post today -- I've been stuck on the first two movements of Holmboe's 5th for the last couple days, and can't force myself to listen to anything else.  Although the last movement doesn't seem to fit as well (a bit too happy), the first two movements are really dynamic, vital, and a wonderful mix of swagger and introspection-- I get a Vaughan Williams vs Shostakovitch death match vibe in a way.  I've liked all of the symphonies I've heard (opening movement of the 4th is great), but every time I look him up on my mp3 player the  Fifth just grabs me and insists on being listened to.

This looks like a rather apt description of my own sensation on hearing these symphonies - especially the Fifth, of which the very opening alone is sheer magic. It was in the early 1990s, and I decided to see the man hismelf. Which I did, in August 1995, in his home in the North of Zealand, Denmark.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 28, 2009, 04:50:43 AM
Thank you for this thread, which I read with great interest;  I would like also to provide my little contribution to this discussion:

I do like his symphonies too, but they do not overwhelm me with enthusiasm (except the 5th and the 6th which are really masterpieces) as Sibelius' of V-W's do. I really enjoy their epic, often dark and enigmatic character, the originality of their developments, their sharp orchestration, their cold harmonies etc.

But, from time to time , I think that he overuses the couple timpani/brass with massive dissonant chords. I feel also, that some of these symphonies (the Borealis or the 12th, eg) are deeply influenced by Hindemith - both thematically, harmonically and orchestrally.  For me it's a pity, since Holmboe HAS a very strong musical personality. But I think that it is better expressed in the string quartets, the chamber concertos and above all in his magnificent Preludes for orchestra, which are among the best works for orchestra I've ever heard.

Therefore, I would thoroughly recommend to anybody who is not (yet) familiar with Holmboe, to begin with the Preludes for Orchestra (2 Dacapo cds), and especially the Prelude to a Dolphin and the Prelude to a Willow Tree. They are colourful, evocative and extraordinary poetic pieces.

Among the 4 Metamorphoses for orchestra, I would also recommend the 3rd "Epilogue" and the 4th "Tempo Variabile", which are the kind of fantastic epic and dark pieces, typical of this Holmboe's style I was talking about.

The Chamber Concertos are another accomplishment among Holmboe's works, especially the 1st (for piano), the 5th (for trio) and the 11th (for trumpet). They are written in a lighter and more luminous vein than the other orchestral pieces.

As far as the string quartets are concerned, I love almost all of them, but the most captivating may be the 3, 7, 8, 12, 13 and the 16. I don't like that much the last ones (17-21) which I find too austere and bitter, and, I must admitt, a little bit boring in comparison with the others. The 9 and the 14 are not very good either in my opinion.

The Concertos : the marvellous and eerie Recorder Concerto and the misty 2nd Flute Concerto are wonderful.

The Symphonies : a lot has been  told here about them already; for me the 5th and the 6th are the most accomplished. I also like very much the 2nd, the 7th, the 9th and the In Memoriam Symphony. But contrary to Dundonnell, I consider Sæverud's symphonies more succesfull (better orchestration, more variety, and a perfectly original language) if you take the whole cycle into account. Well, that's only the way I feel it, absolutely subjective  :).

Chamber Music : except for the string quartets, I do not find Holmboe's chamber music very inspired. An excpetion may be the "Music with Horn" and the "Songe du Barde" for piano.

The Choir Music : Holmboe is very famous in Denmark for his choir pieces - they are really beautiful, but this may not be the easiest face to climb the Holmboe Mountain, as they are quite austere and sad. But for them who'd like to give it a try, I would recommend within the very long Liber Canticorum (about 4h) "Omnia Flumina", "Non est memoria" (Book I), "Benedict Domino Anima Mea" (Book II), "Dedique" (Book III) and "Domine non superbit" (Book IV), which are very beautiful light and ethereal pieces. I don't like at all the Nietszche Requiem (too long, too declamatory, too monotonous).

I guess that's all - hope it wasn't too long (I tried to make it short but...)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on December 28, 2009, 08:27:48 AM
Thank you for this thread, which I read with great interest;  I would like also to provide my little contribution to this discussion:

I do like his symphonies too, but they do not overwhelm me with enthusiasm (except the 5th and the 6th which are really masterpieces) as Sibelius' of V-W's do. I really enjoy their epic, often dark and enigmatic character, the originality of their developments, their sharp orchestration, their cold harmonies etc.

But, from time to time , I think that he overuses the couple timpani/brass with massive dissonant chords. I feel also, that some of these symphonies (the Borealis or the 12th, eg) are deeply influenced by Hindemith - both thematically, harmonically and orchestrally.  For me it's a pity, since Holmboe HAS a very strong musical personality. But I think that it is better expressed in the string quartets, the chamber concertos and above all in his magnificent Preludes for orchestra, which are among the best works for orchestra I've ever heard.

Therefore, I would thoroughly recommend to anybody who is not (yet) familiar with Holmboe, to begin with the Preludes for Orchestra (2 Dacapo cds), and especially the Prelude to a Dolphin and the Prelude to a Willow Tree. They are colourful, evocative and extraordinary poetic pieces.

Among the 4 Metamorphoses for orchestra, I would also recommend the 3rd "Epilogue" and the 4th "Tempo Variabile", which are the kind of fantastic epic and dark pieces, typical of this Holmboe's style I was talking about.

The Chamber Concertos are another accomplishment among Holmboe's works, especially the 1st (for piano), the 5th (for trio) and the 11th (for trumpet). They are written in a lighter and more luminous vein than the other orchestral pieces.

As far as the string quartets are concerned, I love almost all of them, but the most captivating may be the 3, 7, 8, 12, 13 and the 16. I don't like that much the last ones (17-21) which I find too austere and bitter, and, I must admitt, a little bit boring in comparison with the others. The 9 and the 14 are not very good either in my opinion.

The Concertos : the marvellous and eerie Recorder Concerto and the misty 2nd Flute Concerto are wonderful.

The Symphonies : a lot has been  told here about them already; for me the 5th and the 6th are the most accomplished. I also like very much the 2nd, the 7th, the 9th and the In Memoriam Symphony. But contrary to Dundonnell, I consider Sæverud's symphonies more succesfull (better orchestration, more variety, and a perfectly original language) if you take the whole cycle into account. Well, that's only the way I feel it, absolutely subjective  :).

Chamber Music : except for the string quartets, I do not find Holmboe's chamber music very inspired. An excpetion may be the "Music with Horn" and the "Songe du Barde" for piano.

The Choir Music : Holmboe is very famous in Denmark for his choir pieces - they are really beautiful, but this may not be the easiest face to climb the Holmboe Mountain, as they are quite austere and sad. But for them who'd like to give it a try, I would recommend within the very long Liber Canticorum (about 4h) "Omnia Flumina", "Non est memoria" (Book I), "Benedict Domino Anima Mea" (Book II), "Dedique" (Book III) and "Domine non superbit" (Book IV), which are very beautiful light and ethereal pieces. I don't like at all the Nietszche Requiem (too long, too declamatory, too monotonous).

I guess that's all - hope it wasn't too long (I tried to make it short but...)

Just the way I like it, thanks.

I've had problems with the SQs. Partially, it could be the incisive recording, but I just never warmed to their language. I had 7-12, and everyone says that 13-15 was the cd to get, and now you mention No.13. Any "lengthy" thoughts concerning the SQs in general, or specific ones?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on December 28, 2009, 08:36:20 AM
Symphonies 6,7,8 and 10 are my favourites by this great composer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 28, 2009, 10:41:55 AM
I've had problems with the SQs. Partially, it could be the incisive recording, but I just never warmed to their language. I had 7-12, and everyone says that 13-15 was the cd to get, and now you mention No.13. Any "lengthy" thoughts concerning the SQs in general, or specific ones?

Yes !

Here are a few short impressions about these quartets, as far as I can remember (I'll make it short) :

String quartet nr.1: gloomy, contemplative - very beautiful cello-violin duo in the 2nd mvt.
String quartet nr.2 : softly disonnant, more vivid than the previous one, a little bit Prokofiew-like
String quartet nr.3: a clear, meditative and luminous sadness; one of his bests
String quartet nr.4: dramatic, dark, unevently inspired with some very beautiful parts
String quartet nr.5 : austere and rough, with 2 central long slow movements.
String quartet nr.6 : vivid, almost virtuoso, joyful and shimmering
String quartet nr.7: very expressive, magical and powerful - again a masterpiece
String quartet nr.8: light, bright, soft and iridescent. - another great one.
String quartet nr.9 : harsh, tragic and mineral, a very static and oppressive atmosphere
String quartet nr.10 : harsh, sour and VERY austere.
String quartet nr.11: vivid and twinkling, a very beautiful one.
String quartet nr.12: Maybe the best of all: quiet, luminous, less chromatic than the others
String quartet nr.13: Lightly nostalgic - vivid and fluid, almost aquatic - splendid.
String quartet nr.14: gloomy, a little bit boring, but interesting pizzicato parts
String quartet nr.15: except for a not so good slow mvt, it is both vivacious and dark
String quartet nr.16: iridescent, colourful, light crystal clear - another wonderful one
String quartet nr.17 "mattinata" : delicate, gloomy, but not so captivating
String quartet nr.18 "glornata" : not very glornata, rather dull and gray
String quartet nr.19 "serata" : absolutely boring
String quartet nr.20 "notturno" : the best of the "day serie", less chromatic but still tasteless
String quartet nr.21 "sereno" : the last work, edited by Per Nørgård - gray and depressive.

In a way, it's difficult to warm to these string quartets, as they are rather cold and distanciated pieces: but they are full of colours, and the composer has a perfect command of quartet writing, which is rare (synthetic, organic, economic, expressive and meticulous) - the more you listen to them, the easier it becomes. In my opinion, the point is that you need to know which ones are worth listening several times.

These string quartets have no title, then I decided to imagine them. It sounds a bit heretic, but giving them a title helps me to remember their atmosphere - and as you have 21 quartets, I can tell that the trick is effective. I didn't write these titles here, as they are only refering to the images which came to my mind while listening. They may orientate you in a wrong direction.

To say it briefly :

- the series 1-8 is very good (= colourful, lighter, clear with subtle string textures)
- the day series 17-21 is not so good (= sad, gloomy, depressive and boring)
- the best ones : 3,7,8,12,13 & 16
- the very good ones : 2,3,4,5,6,11

In the 13-15 cd you have the 13 and the 15 which are really good
Obviously; this is only the way I feel it - if you like the sad and gray register, it could be the exact contrary
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on December 28, 2009, 12:58:23 PM
Thank you for 2 great postings!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 28, 2009, 02:05:42 PM
Merci ! I was actually wondering if these little impressions were worth the reading...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on December 28, 2009, 02:38:08 PM
Merci ! I was actually wondering if these little impressions were worth the reading...

Oh but please: they are! Many thanks indeed. Great and detailed description and evaluation of Holmboe's output. I'll listen anew to many of the pieces you mention - even have to learn the Preludes for Orchestra, but will do so now, after reading your opinion.

Great to see you in this forum - and to learn how well informed you are.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on December 28, 2009, 08:34:37 PM
Yea, great thoughts.

If you, who appear a sincere fan, don't like those last SQs, them wow, I can imagine... of course it makes me want to hear the "boring" one, haha!

Do you think Holmboe's and Simpson's SQs sound similar, especially H: 1-6, and S: 1-3? Yes, their utter frigidity is very forbidding, even moreso, IMO, than avant music, because H & S are actually denying you pleasure on purpose! The avant people go sooo far afield as to be from another planet, but H & S keep enough of the old structures to make their music familiar, but then use so many crushing dissonences that it just grates on the ear, no?

But, are you really happy with both the tight dacapo recording, and some of that wiry Kontra playing? Wouldn't you like to hear another cycle, and if so, by whom? I would just prefer a meatier recorded sound with some nice ambience. I feel these pieces' icy chill could use a little reverb "depth".

I'll admit that it was the Penguin Guide raves that forced me (they even like the last ones!?!), but I will look out for No.13 (unless you have links to the recordings you can send me :D,...yes, I've become shameless :P).

Now, onto Haydm! ::)

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on December 29, 2009, 01:41:36 AM
I've assembled quite a Holmboe collection and have been reviewing discs here and there on Amazon. With the String Quartets, I hardly know where to start since there are so many of them. My favourite quartets are those by Gubaidulina, Nørgård, Bártók and Carter. Where should I enter Holmboe's output?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 29, 2009, 03:43:42 AM
Oh but please: they are! Many thanks indeed. Great and detailed description and evaluation of Holmboe's output. I'll listen anew to many of the pieces you mention - even have to learn the Preludes for Orchestra, but will do so now, after reading your opinion.

Great to see you in this forum - and to learn how well informed you are.

Thanks a lot for your welcome !! As a matter of fact, that's an illusion : I am not that informed, that's only some personnal feelings about this music. I guess you're a V-W geek, so you should love these Preludes more than anything else among Holmboe's works - the colors, the way he writes for the strings, etc. is definitely something for a V-W fan.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 29, 2009, 04:31:55 AM
Do you think Holmboe's and Simpson's SQs sound similar, especially H: 1-6, and S: 1-3? Yes, their utter frigidity is very forbidding, even moreso, IMO, than avant music, because H & S are actually denying you pleasure on purpose! The avant people go sooo far afield as to be from another planet, but H & S keep enough of the old structures to make their music familiar, but then use so many crushing dissonences that it just grates on the ear, no?

Unfortunately, I know only 2 strings quartets by Simpson (could never find the others) : the 14th and the 15th. From this angle, and on the basis of what I know about Simpsons' music (eg the symphonies), I think that their personalities are very different. Simpson is not resigned, very nervous and rythmic, and Holmboe is much more meditative. Moreover, Holmboe's writing is purely contrapuntic, Simpsons is much less, so you generaly never get lost in Simpsons music. You have big structures, blazing effects, . With Holmboe, you have to concentrate much more on what you're listening.

But, are you really happy with both the tight dacapo recording, and some of that wiry Kontra playing? Wouldn't you like to hear another cycle, and if so, by whom? I would just prefer a meatier recorded sound with some nice ambience. I feel these pieces' icy chill could use a little reverb "depth".

Good question... It depends on how you're expecting a quartet to play : as for me, I hate the light, graceful, neat and cloying play with exagerated dynamics that you can hear so often, and which is still so trendy these days (mmm... maybe I won't give names   :D). I also deeply dislike the old-fashioned grave style with rough cellos and tremolos everywhere. I love the clear, sharp and well-balanced sound, and very few string quartets have it.

I think that the Kontra are very good, because they have a very clear sound, they almost never make any tremolos, and, I agree, they are rather wiry. But these string quartets are wiry, so... :).  The problem, and you get the point here, is the recording, which is very "flat" and boring. That sure does not help.

Right now, I think it would be fantastic to hear these quartets played by the Pacific String Quartet. I love their sound, and they did a great job on Carter's. Actually I think they were the best there. And they have the right sound, minus the wiry thing. But the Pacific Quartet playing Holmboe, this will never happen...

I'll admit that it was the Penguin Guide raves that forced me (they even like the last ones!?!), but I will look out for No.13 (unless you have links to the recordings you can send me :D,...yes, I've become shameless :P).

The problem with the last ones, is that when you see the titles "morning", "noon", "evening", "night", a lot of images comes to your mind, you're expecting some kind of evocative, impressionistic or descriptive music, and what you get is just the contrary. It's very depressive, gray and resigned; in order to start off on the right foot, you should imagine a rainy mid-winter monday, and then the morning, noon etc.

Now, onto Haydm! ::)

Give me a few more years for these ones  ;D But I can do it for Villa-Lobos !
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 29, 2009, 04:48:24 AM
I've assembled quite a Holmboe collection and have been reviewing discs here and there on Amazon. With the String Quartets, I hardly know where to start since there are so many of them. My favourite quartets are those by Gubaidulina, Nørgård, Bártók and Carter. Where should I enter Holmboe's output?

You are certainly not afraid of the austere and meditative internalized style, thus you should love all of them, no problem :) In my opinion you should try the 9th; after this one, the others will sound like pop music.

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on December 31, 2009, 09:37:30 AM
You are certainly not afraid of the austere and meditative internalized style, thus you should love all of them, no problem :) In my opinion you should try the 9th; after this one, the others will sound like pop music.

There's no seeds on the old torrents, so all I have are Volumes 5 and 6 of the Dacapo series (if you can help, PM me). Anyway, I decided to start with the 13th. With its folkloric and nocturnal qualities, the influence of Bartok here is undeniable. I've read many an interview with Holmboe where he praised Bartok, but with the exception of the Symphony No. 2 and the "night music" intermezzo of the Symphony No. 9, I've never heard much of the great Hungarian in Holmboe's symphonic music.

Does the example of Bartok show in most of Holmboe's SQs?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kentel on December 31, 2009, 09:51:48 AM
There's no seeds on the old torrents, so all I have are Volumes 5 and 6 of the Dacapo series (if you can help, PM me). Anyway, I decided to start with the 13th. With its folkloric and nocturnal qualities, the influence of Bartok here is undeniable. I've read many an interview with Holmboe where he praised Bartok, but with the exception of the Symphony No. 2 and the "night music" intermezzo of the Symphony No. 9, I've never heard much of the great Hungarian in Holmboe's symphonic music.

Does the example of Bartok show in most of Holmboe's SQs?

That's very interesting; I've never thought about it, but now you say it... there is clearly a connection. But I havn't heard Bartok quartets for years. Maybe it's time to go back to them...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scarpia on January 23, 2010, 07:20:37 AM
Just listened to my first Holmboe, the symphony No. 6.  I must say I enjoy this music.  Modern in the sense that it does not seem to be organized along the lines of traditional harmonic progressions, but not "serial" and with lots of rhythmic vitality.  I think I will be listening to a lot more of this composer in the future.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 23, 2010, 08:42:20 AM
Just listened to my first Holmboe, the symphony No. 6.  I must say I enjoy this music. 

I like that one too. It's well organized and "cumulative," nicely structured. (I also dig the heroic trumpet theme in the first mvt)

IMHO, the 8th is even better.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on January 23, 2010, 12:22:49 PM
Clearly I need to listen to Symphony 5 which seems to have passed me by. I love the inspiriting opening of Symphony 4. My way into Holmboe was Symphony 8 on LP (Vox Turnabout) and also Symphony 10 - both works I greatly value and I wish that the LP performances would appear on CD.  He sent me a charming reply to my fan letter not that long before he passed away.  Of course this is not as impressive as meeting the great man, as in the case of Christo (are there any composers whom Christo has not met? -  Havergal Brian, Mahler?)  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on January 23, 2010, 01:26:36 PM
Henning.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on January 23, 2010, 01:36:34 PM
Henning.

We'll meet in heaven. (Wasn't so sure about some other composers, that's why).  8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on January 23, 2010, 01:39:31 PM
I may hope yet for a terrestrial meeting . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on January 28, 2010, 02:00:26 AM
I may hope yet for a terrestrial meeting . . . .

The honour would be completely mine. BTW: congratulations with your forthcoming concert in Boston. Looks very promising. I was deeply impressed by your Passion on hearing it for the first time, last season (only play them during the season) and really look forward to your new pieces. Why shouldn't you be original and succesful, like everybody else?  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scarpia on April 08, 2010, 10:49:31 AM
Listened to Holmboe Symphony No 9 today.   After bring generally impressed by 6, 7 and 8, 9 has fallen flat for me.  The piece is structured as three primary movements separated by a pair of interludes.  The interludes made no impression and the main movements lacked the motific and rhythmic rigor that I enjoyed in the other symphonies.   I've only listened once (to the Hughes recording) so I will have to try again before making up my mind about it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: jowcol on April 08, 2010, 02:48:30 PM
Listened to Holmboe Symphony No 9 today.   After bring generally impressed by 6, 7 and 8, 9 has fallen flat for me.  The piece is structured as three primary movements separated by a pair of interludes.  The interludes made no impression and the main movements lacked the motific and rhythmic rigor that I enjoyed in the other symphonies.   I've only listened once (to the Hughes recording) so I will have to try again before making up my mind about it.

have you tried 5?  I'm having the problem now that whenever I dial up Holmboe on my mp3 player, I can't get past 5 without listening to it....
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scarpia on April 08, 2010, 03:01:35 PM
have you tried 5?  I'm having the problem now that whenever I dial up Holmboe on my mp3 player, I can't get past 5 without listening to it....

Started with 6 because I found it in a bargain bin and have been moving up the list.  I seem to be liking them less so maybe I should start moving in the other direction.  I have been picking the Hughes releases up as I find them cheap, I will have to look and see if the disc with 5 has been accumulated yet.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on April 09, 2010, 05:46:18 AM
I'd been meaning to post since the last Thread Sighting.

I got 5 from the library (I'd listened about 10 years ago) after Van or someone said it was their fav.

I guess I'm just not liking Holmboe's syms. :'( :'( To me, 5 just came off as yer everyday war symphony. I don't know,...Holmboe, Rubbra, the mid-century Swedes ('Facets', 'Blackbird'), Simpson,... out of the whole pack, Holmboe's syms just seem to be talked up beyond belief, but every time I go to listen to one, I'm like, ok, that's that? It is what it is, I suppose.

'kentel' had sent me a file for SQs 13-15, which i couldn't get to play (maybe I'll try again with this new computer system), and I've been considering that again (I went through 3 other vols).

The one Holmboe cd that still piques my interest is the Cello Concerto/Brass Quintet cd on BIS.

It's maddening: Holmboe was the one composer I was just supposed to fall all over myself over. Go figure.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on April 09, 2010, 06:31:11 AM
I guess I'm just not liking Holmboe's syms.

I have all the symphonies and a few other items, but I have also not been impressed, with the exception of Symphony No. 4, and perhaps some of the brass concertos.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on April 09, 2010, 09:00:19 PM
I have all the symphonies and a few other items, but I have also not been impressed, with the exception of Symphony No. 4, and perhaps some of the brass concertos.

Oh, now it's No.4, is it?? >:D :o :'( :-[ ??? ::) 8) ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on April 09, 2010, 11:27:35 PM
the mid-century Swedes ('Facets', 'Blackbird'),

...Englund is a Finn.

 :D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on July 07, 2010, 08:08:43 AM
I want to dra your attention to this newly reissued and repackaged set: 7 CDs for the price of 2!

HOLMBOE, VAGN The Complete String Quartets. The Kontra Quartet. DaCapo 7cds

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/8207001.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on July 07, 2010, 08:14:06 AM
Very nice, thank you!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Franco on July 07, 2010, 08:17:52 AM
I want to dra your attention to this newly reissued and repackaged set: 7 CDs for the price of 2!

HOLMBOE, VAGN The Complete String Quartets. The Kontra Quartet. DaCapo 7cds

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/8207001.jpg)

Thanks for the tip - I have a couple of CDs of his symphonies and one concerto, I think.  His music has never completely grabbed my attention, but I usually respond better to a SQ than any other ensemble, so this might be a real opportunity to give him another shot.

Then again, it could be Holmboe overkill.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on July 07, 2010, 09:55:53 AM
Thanks for the tip - I have a couple of CDs of his symphonies and one concerto, I think.  His music has never completely grabbed my attention, but I usually respond better to a SQ than any other ensemble, so this might be a real opportunity to give him another shot.

Then again, it could be Holmboe overkill.

I have gone through four without success, and I am still going to give him one more shot with what appears to be the consensus disc: Nos. 13-15. The discs before seem to lead up, the ones after, away. The later ones have been pretty roundly criticized for being kinda harsh: these I've been scared away from. The earlier ones seemed more to elicit respect of craftsmanship rather than aural attractiveness.

Why do I always feel heavy criticizing Holmboe on this thread? I guess it's because the Penguin Guide set me up to worship Holmboe as the Messiah, and he turned out to be a Nordic-Composer-Starting-in-the-'50s. I feel that there are too many BIS composers to get hung up on any particular negativity concerning any one of them. Woo woo!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CD on July 07, 2010, 03:43:20 PM
I want to dra your attention to this newly reissued and repackaged set: 7 CDs for the price of 2!

HOLMBOE, VAGN The Complete String Quartets. The Kontra Quartet. DaCapo 7cds

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/8207001.jpg)

Aw man, and here I am broke.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on July 07, 2010, 06:35:20 PM
He turned out to be a Nordic-Composer-Starting-in-the-'50s

I don't think that's entirely a fair label. While Holmboe took especial inspiration from Sibelius in the 1950s and 1960s, his career started in the 1930s and many fine neoclassical, Bartókian pieces date from that time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 07, 2010, 06:39:09 PM
I've got the BIS set of symphonies and I really need to revisit them. Holmboe didn't immediately grab me, but his music is very finely crafted.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on July 31, 2010, 01:36:50 PM
I really don't understand him. 

I had some of his woodwind chamber music and a string quartet disc.

It is really bad.  Hard to get into.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CD on July 31, 2010, 02:13:55 PM
Um, care to elaborate?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on July 31, 2010, 02:29:12 PM
Not really.

I don't care for his music to try anymore.

I'll sell off the CD instead.  It was one of these ones;

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51-HUYmAhNL._SS500_.jpg)


He wrote so many I can't tell the difference between any of them.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on July 31, 2010, 02:34:57 PM
I'll sell off the CD instead.  It was one of these ones;

Good luck finding a buyer. I think anyone interested in Holmboe's string quartets would be keen to buy the new Dacapo reissue of the complete set, which is budget-priced.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on July 31, 2010, 02:39:33 PM
Not really.

I don't care for his music to try anymore.

I'll sell off the CD instead.

Well, and in case you cannot unload it (per CRCulver's observation . . . and I know I'll buy the entire set) . . . hold onto it.  Go back to it ten years from now;  maybe you'll like it better then, or maybe not.
 
What is certain is, you will hear it with different ears.  That experience alone will probably be worth holding onto the disc.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on July 31, 2010, 02:44:08 PM
Wow - is it that long since I've had it?  :-X

I've had mine for over 15 years I think ... and I've barely listened to it more than 3 times.

If the complete cycle is out on mid-price, that is going to be one long headache!

Maybe someone will want this lesser torture of a CD in another 10 years :D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CD on July 31, 2010, 02:45:26 PM
Valuable new poster IMO
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 31, 2010, 04:34:18 PM
Hold onto it.  Go back to it ten years from now;  maybe you'll like it better then, or maybe not.
 
What is certain is, you will hear it with different ears.  That experience alone will probably be worth holding onto the disc.

Wise words and so true. It's funny how one can gain so much listening experience and come back to a recording, that had previously been dismissed, with a fresh set of ears and actually find enjoyment in that specific recording.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on July 31, 2010, 04:59:24 PM

Wise words and so true. It's funny how one can gain so much listening experience and come back to a recording, that had previously been dismissed, with a fresh set of ears and actually find enjoyment in that specific recording.


The only thing that is going to improve my estimation of Vagn Holmboe in 10 years time .... is dementia.  :-X
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 31, 2010, 05:09:37 PM

The only thing that is going to improve my estimation of Vagn Holmboe in 10 years time .... is dementia.  :-X

Well, I'm not a big fan of his music either, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep trying to understand it. You've had that recording for 15 years? My Grandfather, who's 90 yrs old, has owned the Fritz Reiner/CSO recording of Bartok since it first appeared on LP and he just now has started to enjoy it. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to understand a piece of music. Some things grab you instantly, while others take more time to understand.
 
There are a lot of composers I've dimissed in the past that have ended up being my some of my favorites now. It's amazing how our ears can change over a period of time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on August 01, 2010, 03:06:04 AM
I hear what you'r saying.  Your grandfather is a lot older than me so he's clearly developed more patience from waiting around all those years much more :)

I probably draw the limits to my appreciation of a piece after 10 years.  I might not be around to enjoy it!   And if it takes any longer, there will be so much more I have to enjoy in between!

What do people like about Holmboe anyway?  It's not melody; it's not rhythm; it's not emotional expression; it's not expression; it's not sonority - what is it?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on August 01, 2010, 07:05:47 AM
I hear what you'r saying.  Your grandfather is a lot older than me so he's clearly developed more patience from waiting around all those years much more :)

I probably draw the limits to my appreciation of a piece after 10 years.  I might not be around to enjoy it!   And if it takes any longer, there will be so much more I have to enjoy in between!

What do people like about Holmboe anyway?  It's not melody; it's not rhythm; it's not emotional expression; it's not expression; it's not sonority - what is it?

I find much of his music to be darkly moving - the opening of Symphony No 6 is quite beautiful and the combatitive opening of Symphony No 4 is very powerful in its wartime context (Holmboe's brother was killed in the war). No 10 is one of the best I think - very powerful, expressive and has something of the power of nature - much the same with symphonies 7 and 8.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on August 02, 2010, 12:52:41 AM
Thanks for your feedback.

I can see that in the music of his I've listened to.


The challenge with Holmboe is... I find myself wading through his symphonies, waiting for something to happen as it meanders.   There are some very eloquent passages within those symphonies as you say (7/8).   I didn't get as far as the 10th so maybe that is the place to start?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on August 02, 2010, 01:46:25 AM
I wonder how much of the problem is the Bis recordings, as good as they are.  I can imagine more pointed conducting and more detailed sound.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on August 02, 2010, 04:22:18 AM
I wonder how much of the problem is the Bis recordings, as good as they are.  I can imagine more pointed conducting and more detailed sound.

That's a good point with some truth I think. Certainly there was more urgency about the performances of Symphony No 8 (Vox/Turnabout) and No 10 that I had on LP (my introduction to Vagn Holmboe) than on the BIS recordings - good as those are.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: jowcol on August 02, 2010, 07:06:03 AM
The first two movements of the 5th are very muscular--  it's a classic wartime symphony, and very powerful. 

I need to get back into the 10th. 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on August 02, 2010, 10:05:02 AM
I hear what you'r saying.  Your grandfather is a lot older than me so he's clearly developed more patience from waiting around all those years much more :)

I probably draw the limits to my appreciation of a piece after 10 years.  I might not be around to enjoy it!   And if it takes any longer, there will be so much more I have to enjoy in between!

What do people like about Holmboe anyway?  It's not melody; it's not rhythm; it's not emotional expression; it's not expression; it's not sonority - what is it?

I'm on your side.

I am down to one cd, String Quartets 13,14,15,.... they say it's the best,... I've tried all others up to them,... yea, mmm, eh,... that will be the last try for me. It was on Ebay a few weeks ago, but I missed it again.

I feel as though the critics of Holmboe feel as though they can compare Holmboe note-for-note with a composer that they doooo like, and show the Holmboe Believers why, note-for-note, other composers consistently deliver at what Holmboe seems to endlessly tease at. Is that it?

I mean, Holmboe VS Shostakovich (for instance),... who wins? "There can be only One, Neo!" I think, IMHO, 100% on this Thread would pick DSCH over H. Overall. And be brutally honest with yourself. Personally,... I wouldn't believe you even if you DID pick H! :Phaha

Holmboe VS Sessions

Holmboe VS Hindemith

Holmboe VS Simpson (some smartass will call this a draw! :-*)

Holmboe VS Ligeti

Holmboe VS Beethoven

Holmboe VS Mennin

Holmboe VS Krenek (ok, now, this seems like a fair fight to me, for instance)
 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on August 02, 2010, 10:28:08 AM
Well, you are a peculiar fellow, and no mistake.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scarpia on August 02, 2010, 11:00:45 AM
I feel as though the critics of Holmboe feel as though they can compare Holmboe note-for-note with a composer that they doooo like, and show the Holmboe Believers why, note-for-note, other composers consistently deliver at what Holmboe seems to endlessly tease at. Is that it?

I mean, Holmboe VS Shostakovich (for instance),... who wins? "There can be only One, Neo!" I think, IMHO, 100% on this Thread would pick DSCH over H. Overall. And be brutally honest with yourself. Personally,... I wouldn't believe you even if you DID pick H! :Phaha

Holmboe VS Sessions

Holmboe VS Hindemith

Holmboe VS Simpson (some smartass will call this a draw! :-*)

Holmboe VS Ligeti

Holmboe VS Beethoven

Holmboe VS Mennin

Holmboe VS Krenek (ok, now, this seems like a fair fight to me, for instance)

I find comparisons may be interesting insofar as they allow me to appreciate influences or relationships between different composers or styles.  I don't find them at all useful in determining the "quality" of a composers music or the extent to which I enjoy a composer's music. 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on August 02, 2010, 01:04:04 PM
Quote
I feel as though the critics of Holmboe feel as though they can compare Holmboe note-for-note with a composer that they doooo like, and show the Holmboe Believers why, note-for-note, other composers consistently deliver at what Holmboe seems to endlessly tease at. Is that it?

I mean, Holmboe VS Shostakovich (for instance),... who wins? "There can be only One, Neo!" I think, IMHO, 100% on this Thread would pick DSCH over H. Overall. And be brutally honest with yourself. Personally,... I wouldn't believe you even if you DID pick H! :Phaha

Holmboe VS Sessions

Holmboe VS Hindemith

Holmboe VS Simpson (some smartass will call this a draw! )

Holmboe VS Ligeti

Holmboe VS Beethoven

Holmboe VS Mennin

Holmboe VS Krenek (ok, now, this seems like a fair fight to me, for instance)


Lol.  That's really funny  ;)


Who is Sessions?  Does he do Out-Takes as well?  ;D

I really like Krenek actually.  Then again, I only have a handful of his string quartets - No.s 1, 3, 5, 7.  Some one out there must have all the even numbers??  :'(   Has some one actually got a CD release of all of his string quartets, or am I just too hungry for completist-ness?

Likewise - Ligeti and Hindemith.  I only have a handful of their quartets too.   However Krenek; Ligeti and Hindemith all make a very striking impression on me: they all have their own unique language and convey this emotional intensity forthwith.

Whereas your jocular comment about picking Shostakovich over Holmboe rings true for me, I wouldn't say this holds for say, idiomatic string quartet guys like  Villa-Lobos; Ginastera, and the French guys, on one hand, or the Beethoven/Taneyev/Haydn classics on another, and on the third - the introspective and interior-focussed quartets of  Weinberg, Myaskovsky, Shebalin, Meyer, Lajtha, Dutilleux's single quartet, Hatzis or Schafer.

Maybe it just holds for Holmboe lol.



 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on August 02, 2010, 01:25:26 PM
Who is Sessions? 

Roger Sessions, I assume.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CaramelJones on August 02, 2010, 02:05:47 PM
Time Out!

Lol
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on August 02, 2010, 06:53:21 PM



 idiomatic string quartet guys like  Villa-Lobos; Ginastera, and the French guys, on one hand, or the Beethoven/Taneyev/Haydn classics on another, and on the third - the introspective and interior-focussed quartets of  Weinberg, Myaskovsky, Shebalin, Meyer, Lajtha, Dutilleux's single quartet, Hatzis or Schafer.


Holmboe VS Myaskovsky

No, seriously, I felt guilty for writing that earlier. I know better than to say "You Suck!" to Holmboe: I can sense his craftmanship in all I've heard, but, herein is where I find my answer. Your list above contains a nice swathe of, may I say, perhaps, like minded composers. Whether you "like" them or not may depend on this or that, but you can always "respect" them for their craftsmanship. For me, Myaskovsky and Holmboe both have both been hailed as the One (at one time or another), only for me to have spent $$$ galore on expensive Russian or Swedish cds (see my BIS rant!) on a quest to find some Grailish experience.

The perfect example would be Myaskovsky's Cello Concerto

ok, I know I'm on the losing side of the argument, and I'm going to bed. May I one day find some Holmboe I like! ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Lethevich on August 02, 2010, 08:21:55 PM
I can't think of much that is stylistically comparable between the two, tbh.

What I admire for Holmboe most is his fusing of the elemental power possible with orchestral writing (which has been especially tapped into by other Nordic composers), but in an un-Romantic context. In his late symphonies (No.10+) his style becomes even more crystalised - they shorten, further more rhetorical gestures are eliminated. The "craftsmanship" element is a factor, but not in the negative sense - the music feels exceptionally stimulating because it has been pared back so much, and yet they miraculously still retain the vital spark of nature which is present throughout Holmboe's music, albeit often in an unconventional, un-signposted manner.

His quartets as a cycle are not as memorable as the symphonies, but I am surprised that several people have managed to outright not enjoy them. I find his cycle comparable to Dvořák in status - there is a lot of good music there, but it's simultaneously not top-tier, and yet too consistently good to dismiss. The latter makes picking favourites quite a challenge as it needs either serious focus/repeated listen, or an especial affinity for the style.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on August 02, 2010, 10:22:36 PM
I can't think of much that is stylistically comparable between the two, tbh.

What I admire for Holmboe most is his fusing of the elemental power possible with orchestral writing (which has been especially tapped into by other Nordic composers), but in an un-Romantic context. In his late symphonies (No.10+) his style becomes even more crystalised - they shorten, further more rhetorical gestures are eliminated. The "craftsmanship" element is a factor, but not in the negative sense - the music feels exceptionally stimulating because it has been pared back so much, and yet they miraculously still retain the vital spark of nature which is present throughout Holmboe's music, albeit often in an unconventional, un-signposted manner.

His quartets as a cycle are not as memorable as the symphonies, but I am surprised that several people have managed to outright not enjoy them. I find his cycle comparable to Dvořák in status - there is a lot of good music there, but it's simultaneously not top-tier, and yet too consistently good to dismiss. The latter makes picking favourites quite a challenge as it needs either serious focus/repeated listen, or an especial affinity for the style.

Very much agree with this view of the symphonies - don't know the SQs.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 27, 2011, 09:38:08 AM
Just been listening to Vagn Holmboe's Cello Concerto - what a fine work.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Lethevich on March 27, 2011, 12:43:57 PM
Is that one of the chamber concertos re-named? I noticed hints in the literature that the name "chamber concertos" are gradually being phased out in his output in place of more typical ones describing the forces involved.

Edit: I checked the list of forces for the chamber concertos - disregard that, there's none for cello and orchestra.

This seems a good time to mention I've been exploring much of the composer's output recently, as have others on the forum. Holmboe is a rather unassuming figure - generally lumped into a group of 20th century tonal 'regressives', but while I love those other composers, Holmboe seems to be one of the few who composes to a system and strict aesthetic and as such is appears more radical than his stablemates, yet is generally overlooked by everybody other than those interested in composers who continued the symphonic tradition into the late 20th century. It produces wonderful results, and despite the daunting size of his output I have yet to find anything weak, or even average.

His concerto for violin, viola and orchestra (Chamber Concerto No.9) is a nice find, it seems to sum up a lot about his manner - wild, slightly astringent, with interesting folk-oriented tonality occasionally showing its head, but always subservient to the almost neoclassical manner.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on March 28, 2011, 04:55:47 PM
This seems a good time to mention I've been exploring much of the composer's output recently, as have others on the forum. Holmboe is a rather unassuming figure - generally lumped into a group of 20th century tonal 'regressives', but while I love those other composers, Holmboe seems to be one of the few who composes to a system and strict aesthetic and as such is appears more radical than his stablemates, yet is generally overlooked by everybody other than those interested in composers who continued the symphonic tradition into the late 20th century. It produces wonderful results, and despite the daunting size of his output I have yet to find anything weak, or even average.

His concerto for violin, viola and orchestra (Chamber Concerto No.9) is a nice find, it seems to sum up a lot about his manner - wild, slightly astringent, with interesting folk-oriented tonality occasionally showing its head, but always subservient to the almost neoclassical manner.

And, carrying these over from the WAYLT? thread:

Yes, I suppose you are right, but as I may have told you before (or not), that I have listened to Holmboe for a year or so and I'm still not feeling the music at all.

The first time I 'felt' Holmboe's music was with his Symphony No. 7. Because of a recent Holmboe love fest here, I downloaded Symphony No. 10, which I'll listen to when I'm in the mood... But I must say - I have had my difficulties, too. And I'm still not quite sure I'll ever like him as much as, say, RVW, Nielsen, or even Simpson.

That is a shame - mature Holmboe does seem to be a quite ascetic experience, and your comparison with Simpson (often criticised as dry) is enlightening as it makes me realise that if I didn't connect to certain key elements of Holmboe's tonality* I would perhaps feel the same way. As much as Simpson avoids explicit pictorial programmes in his music, the energy more than makes up for this and creates something dynamic and engaging - not entirely as his reputation would suggest. Cosier symphonists like RVW will always remain closest to my heart, though.

*I find his metamorphosing method a great solution to the problems of the difficulties of writing such large statements, but it's mostly his superb writing for individual instruments and their elemental interactions. His slightly pungent brass - almost mimicking chorales in a pointillist manner at times - and woodwinds in particular are wonderful stamps of personality on his works regardless of mood, and often lend his pieces a curious nobility.

When I was in high school, and particularly when taking part in one of the Region or All-State Bands, there was the occasional 20th-century concert work (sounds a little funny, since practically all of the band literature is of the 20th century), pieces like Peter Mennin's Canzona and the Hindemith Symphony in Bb, which really crashed onto my ears like a fresh sea breeze, and I had a visceral feeling of This is the kind of music I've been waiting for.  Of course, I wound up having the same feeling, only a degree or two more intense, when later my ears were exposed to (e.g.) Stravinsky — but my point here is that, irrationally (if you like), I enjoy much the same resonant combination of sonic ergonomics and musical excitement with practically all the Holmboe I hear.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: rw1883 on July 27, 2011, 06:54:59 AM
I contacted DaCapo and found out that the Chamber Concerti will be released as a box set in October or November.  This should be a great buy as I never bought the individual releases.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: karlhenning on July 27, 2011, 07:33:55 AM
I contacted DaCapo and found out that the Chamber Concerti will be released as a box set in October or November.  This should be a great buy as I never bought the individual releases.

Thanks for the word!  I'll certainly snap that box up.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on January 30, 2012, 10:50:59 PM
Fans of Holmboe might enjoy reading Poul Nielsen's old article “Some Comments on Vagn Holmboe’s Ideas of Metamorphosis” (which I believe I got from JSTOR). Nielsen encourages people to be sceptical about composers' self-theories, and he analyses the Symphony No. 8 and other works to show that Holmboe's "metamorphosis" principle is really just common Late Romantic tonality, not some bold new discovery unique to the composer.

Of course, I love Holmboe nonetheless, but this article deflates some of the mythology that has grown up around his output from 1950–1970.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 31, 2012, 03:16:32 AM
I think "sceptical" is the wrong word, though.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Lethevich on January 31, 2012, 09:57:33 AM
Though the composers in question have a natural desire to perhaps over-sell their 'discovery', I do find personal descriptions of any process to be useful. Even if it's, say, 70% derivative, its concentration in their application of it is notable in itself.

A lack of JSTOR access is one of the more frustrating things to a fan of the classical byways -_-
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 31, 2012, 10:06:23 AM
I contacted DaCapo and found out that the Chamber Concerti will be released as a box set in October or November.  This should be a great buy as I never bought the individual releases.

Ну?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 24, 2012, 07:59:17 PM
I contacted DaCapo and found out that the Chamber Concerti will be released as a box set in October or November.  This should be a great buy as I never bought the individual releases.

Would be pleased if this were true, but not seen any sign of it yet.

From what little I've heard/read, BIS may have the edge over Da Capo in the works they've recorded, but they haven't recorded them all.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 24, 2012, 08:02:44 PM
By the way, people who are sufficiently interested to read this thread may also be interested to know that Wikipedia now has a list of Holmboe's compositions.

I put it together a couple of months ago because I was so frustrated at not being able to FIND a list.  It's not 100% complete but not too far off it, I think.  I need to get a hold of the 1996 version of the catalogue printed by his publishers.  There's a copy in a library in California...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Lethevich on March 24, 2012, 08:09:07 PM
By the way, people who are sufficiently interested to read this thread may also be interested to know that Wikipedia now has a list of Holmboe's compositions.

I put it together a couple of months ago because I was so frustrated at not being able to FIND a list.  It's not 100% complete but not too far off it, I think.  I need to get a hold of the 1996 version of the catalogue printed by his publishers.  There's a copy in a library in California...

Thank you! I have been intrigued about this, but was unwilling to pay a fortune for the catalogue of them.

Direct link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 24, 2012, 08:41:47 PM
Excuse me while I do a running commentary, but...

I'm listening to Symphony No. 9 right now, which has always seemed to me one of the most difficult to get into, and it seems that at least two reviewers have thought the same thing. I've probably listened to it the least out of any in the box set, except maybe No.13.

Yesterday I tried listening to the 5 movements separately. And the 1st movement worked for me, but the next two really didn't do a lot.  The 2nd is a very, very quite 'intermezzo', and frankly sounds like not a lot happens.  The 3rd is the loudest and most furious, but didn't feel like it quite had the level of structure I expect from Holmboe, especially not the first half of it.

Well, today (right now) I'm listening to the symphony in complete form again, and the difference is astonishing. My ear immediately picked up that the 2nd movement has a figure taken from the end of the 1st movement.  It turns the whole intermezzo into a ghostly echo, with the music unable to move on.  Consequently, the opening of the 3rd movement sounded totally appropriate as an onrush of sound, as if the music is catching up having lost the previous four minutes.

I think what I love about Holmboe is when I can hear a form evolving and changing across a work like that.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 23, 2012, 04:43:41 AM
Curious to know, has anyone had the chance to hear both versions of Kairos/Chairos and, if so, thoughts on the differences/which is better?





I've heard the BIS one online.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 01, 2012, 06:43:07 AM
Oh, I guess we haven't, any of us . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: springrite on May 01, 2012, 06:46:03 AM
Based on limited exposure only, but I am thinking I like his chamber music more. (I do have the complete symphonies on BIS)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 01, 2012, 06:57:15 AM
I do like the string quartets even better, probably significantly better.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 03, 2012, 05:52:49 PM
The only thing I own on CD so far is the symphonies, but BIS is good enough to enable everything to be heard online.

I've been going through all the Holmboe I can get my hands on, either through them or the sampling that's available on iTunes (note, this is actually what started me on creating that Wikipedia list of compositions), and I intend to make some purchases once I'm at the end.  The quartets will be top of the list, but it turns out that around two-thirds of the 197 opus numbers have been recorded, rather more than I had initialy expected.

Up to opus 120, and I've liked virtually everything I've heard.

But it's not often there's actually much choice in recordings.  Kairos/Chairos is one of the relatively rare cases where the two main 'Holmboe record labels', BIS and DaCapo, have both made a recording. They also overlap on parts of the (chamber) concerto series - DaCapo have made a complete set of all 13, BIS haven't but it seems as if the BIS ones may be slightly better in the works they've done.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on May 03, 2012, 10:48:13 PM
Curious to know, has anyone had the chance to hear both versions of Kairos/Chairos and, if so, thoughts on the differences/which is better?

I only own the first, the Dacapo. I cannot judge the BIS then, but I can see that the first has its advantages: a second bonus cd in which the four movements of the Sinfonia IV - a Preludio, Interludio I, Interludio II, Postludio - are placed around the single-movement Sinfonias 1-3 in order to create the mega "Chairos" Sinfonia as a whole.

And of course its modest price.  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 04, 2012, 12:28:08 AM
I only own the first, the Dacapo. I cannot judge the BIS then, but I can see that the first has its advantages: a second bonus cd in which the four movements of the Sinfonia IV - a Preludio, Interludio I, Interludio II, Postludio - are placed around the single-movement Sinfonias 1-3 in order to create the mega "Chairos" Sinfonia as a whole.

And of course its modest price.  :)

The BIS solves the problem a different way. It starts with the mega Kairos, with Sinfonia IV's movements split, and then just re-presents Sinfonia IV complete again on the same CD.

I think either tactic works.  ;D

The whole idea is an interesting one, though.  Not least because I think that the order of hearing different pieces of music really can make a difference to how we perceive them.  We've got a composer deliberately toying with that idea.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 06, 2012, 04:32:31 AM
DaCapo is about to release a recording of the Chamber Symphonies (http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-vagn-holmboe---chamber-symphonies.aspx).

Very interested, because a number of the old Gramophone reviews say "won't someone please record the marvellous chamber symphonies"!  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 17, 2012, 06:16:44 PM
Bought the BIS version of Kairos on a trip to Melbourne.  A bit pricey, but I was so astonished at (1) finding a fair sized classical-CD shop, and (2) finding a Holmboe disc in it, that I thought I had better buy it to encourage them to keep adding Holmboe stock!  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on August 17, 2012, 06:56:18 PM
Bought the BIS version of Kairos on a trip to Melbourne.  A bit pricey, but I was so astonished at (1) finding a fair sized classical-CD shop, and (2) finding a Holmboe disc in it, that I thought I had better buy it to encourage them to keep adding Holmboe stock!  ;D

I do that sometimes in the local shops, all two of them....although not of Holmboe, since I don't yet have a recording of any of his works.  (But the Chamber Symphonies is in my shopping cart for the next order from Prestoclassical.)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 18, 2012, 07:41:06 PM
I do that sometimes in the local shops, all two of them....although not of Holmboe, since I don't yet have a recording of any of his works.  (But the Chamber Symphonies is in my shopping cart for the next order from Prestoclassical.)

You are aware, I hope, that Prestoclassical has a DaCapo sale on?

I'm about to snap up the string quartets, the chamber symphonies and the 'volume 1' of chamber music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 12, 2012, 07:15:29 PM
Your resident Holmboe obsessive is popping up again...

Now that I have the string quartets, the chamber symphonies, Kairos, violin/piano music and another disc of chamber music that I'm working through, I am REALLY noticing the differences in Holmboe's style in different periods.

Especially this period in the 1960s where his music is noticeably 'tougher' and more 'difficult' than either before or after.  Then in the 1970s there's this beautiful transparency to his scoring.

I suppose the symphonies didn't really convey this to me quite so much because they are very unevenly distributed through his career.  Of the 13 numbered symphonies, the first 8 are effectively 'early'.  Symphony No.8 is opus 56 in 1951. At that point there's still 141 opuses to go, and 45 years of composing.

I'm still yet to listen to all that much of his 1980s and 90s work.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on October 13, 2012, 01:28:14 AM
Your resident Holmboe obsessive is popping up again...

Now that I have the string quartets, the chamber symphonies, Kairos, violin/piano music and another disc of chamber music that I'm working through, I am REALLY noticing the differences in Holmboe's style in different periods.

Especially this period in the 1960s where his music is noticeably 'tougher' and more 'difficult' than either before or after.  Then in the 1970s there's this beautiful transparency to his scoring.

I suppose the symphonies didn't really convey this to me quite so much because they are very unevenly distributed through his career.  Of the 13 numbered symphonies, the first 8 are effectively 'early'.  Symphony No.8 is opus 56 in 1951. At that point there's still 141 opuses to go, and 45 years of composing.

I'm still yet to listen to all that much of his 1980s and 90s work.

Interesting - I don't know the chamber music. Which is your favourite symphony? I like 4,6,7,8 and 10.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 13, 2012, 04:45:23 PM
Interesting - I don't know the chamber music. Which is your favourite symphony? I like 4,6,7,8 and 10.

I think I'd have to put No.8 at the very top.  The sense of power in it is amazing.

I'm also very fond of No.5.  And 1, and 3, and 6, and 11...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on October 14, 2012, 01:26:07 PM
I think I'd have to put No.8 at the very top.  The sense of power in it is amazing.

I'm also very fond of No.5.  And 1, and 3, and 6, and 11...

Thank you. Yes, No 8 is great - it was my first contact with Holmboe via a Vox Turnabout LP.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 14, 2012, 04:03:23 PM
So we are giving up on that alleged box reissue of the chamber concerti? . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 14, 2012, 04:17:57 PM
So we are giving up on that alleged box reissue of the chamber concerti? . . .

I was actually thinking about e-mailing Da Capo, because they proved themselves to be responsive when I asked about another disc.

(Unlike EMI, mutter grumble rant...)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 18, 2012, 05:33:39 AM
Holmboe addicts-of whom I am one-will be delighted to know that Dacapo will be releasing in January a cd containing the Violin Concerto No.2, op.139 of 1978-79 and the Viola Concerto, op. 189 of 1991-92 (see complete catalogue at composers. gulabin.com; (http://composers. gulabin.com;) sorry you are going to get a lot of this shameless plugging now I am back :D).

These are the two major Holmboe concertos still unrecorded and will fill the gap just perfectly :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 18, 2012, 05:42:26 AM
Mm, that does sound yummy, Colin!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 18, 2012, 05:33:07 PM
Holmboe addicts-of whom I am one-will be delighted to know that Dacapo will be releasing in January a cd containing the Violin Concerto No.2, op.139 of 1978-79 and the Viola Concerto, op. 189 of 1991-92 (see complete catalogue at composers. gulabin.com; (http://composers. gulabin.com;) sorry you are going to get a lot of this shameless plugging now I am back :D).

These are the two major Holmboe concertos still unrecorded and will fill the gap just perfectly :)

Woohoo!

I don't know what's caused it, but Dacapo are REALLY pulling out the Holmboe premieres in the last year or two.  Fantastic.

It genuinely feels as if someone sat down and said "right, what are the gaps in the catalogue?".  Hats off to all the record companies that do this instead of deciding the world needs a 492nd recording of the same piece.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 19, 2012, 06:43:03 AM
I could not agree more with the sentiments in your last paragraph :)

Every month I read reviews in the music magazines of yet another recording of a Mahler symphony. Now-with the greatest of respect to all my friends who adore Mahler (and I DO love some of his symphonies and fully acknowledge his genius)- does the world really need another recording of the same Mahler symphony from yet one more orchestra and yet one more conductor ???

And if the answer is really yes, that Mahler's symphonies are ever open to yet another interpretation, then at least balance that with the filling-in of gaps in the output of a genuinely fine composer like Vagn Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 07, 2013, 05:00:07 AM
Brian's pointing a certain book out over at the HQ (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,92.msg695308.html#msg695308) reminds me that it is time I fetched in the chamber concertos. I had been waiting for a reissue of the lot, but . . . grew tired of the wait : ) The trigger has been pulled . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 14, 2013, 11:37:04 AM
Oh, any day now . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 05, 2013, 05:09:00 AM
Do it! Do it!

Not that I've done it yet... I still haven't finished listening to the string quartets and the chamber symphonies...

PS Hi all, back on the forum after wandering off for some months. *waves*
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 05, 2013, 05:36:28 AM
Ooh. Meanwhile, Da Capo has just released their promised recording of the Viola Concerto, Violin Concerto No.2... and the early Concerto for Orchestra.

Not only are these premiere recordings (these are 2 of the last mature concertos to be recorded), in the case of the Concerto for Orchestra it's believed to be a premiere performance.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 05, 2013, 06:55:06 AM
WB, Orfeo!

I did, I did fetch in the chamber concerti, and have started listening.

That new release sounds mighty tasty.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Leo K. on March 10, 2013, 03:07:05 PM
Really looking forward to hearing Holmboe for the first time, just got this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SYS1DD59L._SX300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 10, 2013, 03:24:47 PM
Really looking forward to hearing Holmboe for the first time, just got this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SYS1DD59L._SX300_.jpg)

Sadly, I'm still trying to figure Holmboe out. His music just doesn't land on my ear, in fact, it flies across my ear and nothing sticks! I own this set as well and have owned for several years.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 10, 2013, 03:25:52 PM
Really looking forward to hearing Holmboe for the first time, just got this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SYS1DD59L._SX300_.jpg)

Will be very keen to hear your responses!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 10, 2013, 04:32:15 PM
Really looking forward to hearing Holmboe for the first time, just got this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SYS1DD59L._SX300_.jpg)

eclassical.com is charging $35 for lossless downloads of the whole box.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 10, 2013, 10:44:16 PM
Sadly, I'm still trying to figure Holmboe out. His music just doesn't land on my ear, in fact, it flies across my ear and nothing sticks! I own this set as well and have owned for several years.

In your case, given your (wide range of self-confessed) preferences, I think the best start would be with Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, 7, perhaps 4 (if you accept the quality of the choir) and 8 ('Boreale'). Otherwise: the folksy No. 3 or tragic-heroic No. 10.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 10, 2013, 11:36:18 PM
In your case, given your (wide range of self-confessed) preferences, I think the best start would be with Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, 7, perhaps 4 (if you accept the quality of the choir) and 8 ('Boreale'). Otherwise: the folksy No. 3 or tragic-heroic No. 10.

I find the Chamber Concertos more interesting.  And I hope the Bis set is not the last word on the symphonies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on March 10, 2013, 11:50:33 PM
Hey Leo, I hope you find these symphonies interesting.  I have only dipped my feet into Holmboe at this point, but based on my own response, I can say that you should absolutely check out the FOUR SYMPHONIC METAMORPHOSES disc (also on Bis) if you like the symphonies.  I think I liked that disc even a bit more than the symphonies.  I also got a lot of mileage out of the bargain box of his string quartets, maybe especially several of the later quartets.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 11, 2013, 02:02:28 AM
Really looking forward to hearing Holmboe for the first time, just got this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SYS1DD59L._SX300_.jpg)

Very cool! I find it all a wonderfully rich cycle, and I find it yields more with each succeeding listen.  The quartets (which Octave mentions) are brilliant.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2013, 07:37:20 AM
In your case, given your (wide range of self-confessed) preferences, I think the best start would be with Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, 7, perhaps 4 (if you accept the quality of the choir) and 8 ('Boreale'). Otherwise: the folksy No. 3 or tragic-heroic No. 10.

I've heard all of Holmboe's symphonies at least twice, Christo. I've tried to enjoy the music, I really have, but there's nothing there for my ears to grab onto. I'll take your suggestions but I'm in no hurry to listen to Holmboe any time soon.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 11, 2013, 02:53:42 PM
nothing there for my ears to grab onto.

It's all that Delius.  Bad for building ear strength.

I do remember finding 4 very exciting, and quite different in character from the other symphonies.  Also, 8 is pretty good.  I tend to blame these performances for some of my lack of enthusiasm.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2013, 02:56:11 PM
It's all that Delius.  Bad for building ear strength.

No, it's simply me not responding to Holmboe's music. Completely my own fault and certainly not the composer's. I do agree that the performances leave much to be desired.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 11, 2013, 05:52:31 PM
It's all that Delius.  Bad for building ear strength.

I do remember finding 4 very exciting, and quite different in character from the other symphonies.  Also, 8 is pretty good.  I tend to blame these performances for some of my lack of enthusiasm.

That is the drawback to having but one set available!

Somehow, in the case of Holmboe's music, I can "hear through" the shortcomings in the occasional recording. I hear the greatness here.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 12, 2013, 08:50:42 PM
There's not that many instances of Holmboe works with a wide range of recordings to choose from!  Although I seem to remember the Op.19 Notturno crops up at least 3 times (none of which I have yet).

I find it fairly difficult to assess a performance of a work when I don't have anything to compare it to - either another recording or a score.

One area of Holmboe where performance choice has delayed a purchase is the 'chamber' concertos.  Da Capo has recorded them all. BIS has recorded only some.  What listening comparison I've done suggests that the BIS performances are better, though, which puts me in a quandary about which way to go (I'm a sucker for complete sets).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 12, 2013, 08:55:37 PM
The symphonies definitely need to be recorded again as the BIS cycle is far from flattering. Maybe Dacapo could offer better performances?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 12, 2013, 09:27:05 PM
There's not that many instances of Holmboe works with a wide range of recordings to choose from!  Although I seem to remember the Op.19 Notturno crops up at least 3 times (none of which I have yet).

I think I may have a recording of Symphony 8 on Lp somewhere.

Quote
One area of Holmboe where performance choice has delayed a purchase is the 'chamber' concertos.  Da Capo has recorded them all. BIS has recorded only some.  What listening comparison I've done suggests that the BIS performances are better, though, which puts me in a quandary about which way to go (I'm a sucker for complete sets).

I have the first volume of the Da Capo series, and thought it was great.  I'll have to hear the Bis recordings.

One thing that confused me at first, is that there are the Chamber Concertos and the Chamber Symphonies (OK, so I'm not that observant sometimes). 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 12, 2013, 09:59:42 PM
The Bis recordings are fine.  What is wrong with them?  Didn't you just say, a few times or more, that you just didn't dig Holmboe?  Maybe, um, you just don't dig Holmboe, or his symphonies.  C'est tout.  Nothing needs to be settled.  The Bis recordings are fine.

Yes, but perhaps another perspective would offer a more ear-opening experience for the listeners who remain in doubt? More performances offer new avenues into the music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on March 12, 2013, 10:41:33 PM
I was over-hasty with that retort of mine, which was needlessly tetchy; pardon me.  It is erased now.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 12, 2013, 10:45:03 PM
I was over-hasty with that retort of mine, which was needlessly tetchy; pardon me.  It is erased now.

No problem, Octave. All is forgotten.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 15, 2013, 06:56:06 AM
I think it's fairly hard to know whether it's the performers or the composer who isn't doing it for you unless you somehow hear a bit more of the composer's other works.  Personally, for example, I've now heard enough Liszt to conclude that the mildness of my response to Liszt is because of Liszt rather than the people performing his work.  He's just not really my kind of composer.  It's perfectly possible Holmboe just isn't your kind of composer.

If you want a relatively direct comparison with the Symphonies, you might try the fairly recent recording of the 3 Chamber Symphonies.  They don't sound especially 'chamber' in scale at times, especially no.2.  It's also an SACD recording so the sound quality should be top notch.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 15, 2013, 07:46:33 AM
In other news... I'm still working through the box of the string quartets, and have just listened to Quartet No.15 for the first time.

I'm not usually one to jump to extra-musical conclusions, but the very first impression I had was "we are much closer to Shostakovich than we normally are".  And given the numbering, the fact that it's the first post-Shostakovich quartet he wrote (well, it appears he may have been in the process of finishing off No.14 when Shostakovich died, so the first quartet conceived post-Shostakovich) and that it has a movement marked Funebre, I feel that the impression isn't coincidence.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 16, 2013, 01:58:40 AM
The symphonies definitely need to be recorded again as the BIS cycle is far from flattering. Maybe Dacapo could offer better performances?

Alternative recordings are always welcome. But I don't think there's anything wrong at all with the BIS cycle, apart from some details  (e.g. the choir in the Sinfonia Sacra). Most instalments in the series were widely praised by reviewers in the time, and I myself had a similar experience: almost all of these performances are very fine indeed. I happen to know that Vagn Holmboe himself was of a similar opinion, as he told me so when I met him in 1995 (whth the just finished Symphony No. 13, dedicated to the conductor, lying on the piano). He was absolutely grateful for Owain Arwel Hughes for what he had accomplished (the cycle wasn't completed yet).  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 19, 2013, 05:06:18 AM
Alternative recordings are always welcome. But I don't think there's anything wrong at all with the BIS cycle, apart from some details  (e.g. the choir in the Sinfonia Sacra).

+ 1

And, lawd, how good that string quartet survey is!
Title: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Leo K. on March 22, 2013, 04:16:12 AM
Alternative recordings are always welcome. But I don't think there's anything wrong at all with the BIS cycle, apart from some details  (e.g. the choir in the Sinfonia Sacra). Most instalments in the series were widely praised by reviewers in the time, and I myself had a similar experience: almost all of these performances are very fine indeed. I happen to know that Vagn Holmboe himself was of a similar opinion, as he told me so when I met him in 1995 (whth the just finished Symphony No. 13, dedicated to the conductor, lying on the piano). He was absolutely grateful for Owain Arwel Hughes for what he had accomplished (the cycle wasn't completed yet).  :)

I just got the BIS cycle and I'm looking forward to it soon. I've never heard of Holmboe until recently!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 29, 2013, 03:14:25 AM
Thought I'd let people know, I've been updating the Wikipedia list of Holmboe's compositions using the 1996 version of the catalogue.  Which it turns out was not prepared in response to Holmboe's death, but pre-dated it.

Still, it should be as near as complete as possible.  Personally I find it helpful now that some works without opus numbers are getting recorded (concerto for orchestra, folksong arrangements for recorder and guitar).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 29, 2013, 03:18:59 AM
Good job!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 30, 2013, 06:24:19 AM
Alternative recordings are always welcome. But I don't think there's anything wrong at all with the BIS cycle, apart from some details  (e.g. the choir in the Sinfonia Sacra). Most instalments in the series were widely praised by reviewers in the time, and I myself had a similar experience: almost all of these performances are very fine indeed. I happen to know that Vagn Holmboe himself was of a similar opinion, as he told me so when I met him in 1995 (whth the just finished Symphony No. 13, dedicated to the conductor, lying on the piano). He was absolutely grateful for Owain Arwel Hughes for what he had accomplished (the cycle wasn't completed yet).  :)

Initially I misread this and thought that Owain Arwel Hughes was lying on the piano!  8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 08, 2013, 05:12:44 AM
I don't think it's the first I've listened to it . . . listening to the Tenth Symphony this morning, and it's just flat-out great music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 08, 2013, 05:16:33 AM
I don't think it's the first I've listened to it . . . listening to the Tenth Symphony this morning, and it's just flat-out great music.

That is one I've appreciated more and more over time.  Along with the 9th.

Having got to the end of the string quartet box (not listening in order, and interspersed with listening to all the other new purchases from the same period last year), I've gone slightly Holmboe-mad and have decided to listen to all 20 completed/numbered quartets this month, in order.  Plus other pieces occasionally.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 08, 2013, 05:23:23 AM
Love the quartets, probably even more than the symphonies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 08, 2013, 05:40:51 AM
Love the quartets, probably even more than the symphonies.

Indeed, I've noted your praise for the Kontra Quartet set.  And Holmboe is a natural fit for the contrapuntal lines of quartet writing.

I'm up to quartet no.6, now, which is markedly tougher than the ones before it.  Holmboe's 1960s music really does seem to be thornier than either before or after.

The only thing that really bugs me about those recordings, so far, is that the last movement of quartet no.2 is apparently supposed to be 'allegro molto e leggiero'.  It doesn't come across to me as very 'leggiero' at all.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 08, 2013, 05:44:22 AM
Some pieces, as a performer (or as a performing ensemble) you need to "live with" over time to make your way into all the aspects of the music.  The Kontras overall do a fine job, but that may have been one item of unfinished business, residual to "getting the job done," of the entire set.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on April 08, 2013, 06:22:22 AM
Indeed, I've noted your praise for the Kontra Quartet set.  And Holmboe is a natural fit for the contrapuntal lines of quartet writing.

I'm up to quartet no.6, now, which is markedly tougher than the ones before it.  Holmboe's 1960s music really does seem to be thornier than either before or after.

The only thing that really bugs me about those recordings, so far, is that the last movement of quartet no.2 is apparently supposed to be 'allegro molto e leggiero'.  It doesn't come across to me as very 'leggiero' at all.

I predict you will be wearied by the end. See if 13-15 aren't the best of the lot.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 08, 2013, 06:30:54 AM
I predict you will be wearied by the end.

Oh, I don't know; I find them all rather energizing.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: springrite on April 08, 2013, 06:34:32 AM
Love the quartets, probably even more than the symphonies.
That is what I have concluded as well.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 08, 2013, 08:39:13 PM
I predict you will be wearied by the end. See if 13-15 aren't the best of the lot.

Well I already know I particularly loved 13 and 14 the first time around. But as I only listened to 17-20 a couple of weeks ago I already know I like them as well. Especially 17.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Parsifal on April 08, 2013, 09:24:16 PM
This just reminds me I have to find time to listen to the Holmboe Symphonies again (such fine performances and such superb sonics) and start on the quartets. 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2013, 06:56:26 PM
I would like to revoke my previous comments made about Holmboe and, in particular, the Hughes symphony set on BIS. I'm listening to Symphony No. 2 right now and this is freakin' fantastic! Where was my mind two years when I heard this symphony and thought "I don't like this"? It's just another example of how the mind grows with more musical experience. Of course, there are some composers that I haven't come around to, but I'm really enjoying Holmboe's music now.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 10, 2013, 07:16:27 PM
 ;D

Edit: It's okay, you're in reasonable company, seeing as how the 2nd symphony was eliminated in the first round of the competition that it subsequently won after being reinstated.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2013, 07:17:14 PM
;D

All good things come to those who wait. :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 10, 2013, 07:25:40 PM
Even as someone who 'knows' I consistently like Holmboe, an awful lot of his pieces don't unlock for several listens.  Even when I come back to something I've previously listened to, it can take several attempts to feel like I'm really getting the rewards from it.  Not least because so often the rewards are in the large-scale structure, not the details along the way.

(String Quartet No.8 is quite weird and not entirely working for me as a complete work just now.  But then, String Quartet No.7 came more and more alive over half a dozen listens yesterday and the day before.)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2013, 07:32:02 PM
Even as someone who 'knows' I consistently like Holmboe, an awful lot of his pieces don't unlock for several listens.  Even when I come back to something I've previously listened to, it can take several attempts to feel like I'm really getting the rewards from it.  Not least because so often the rewards are in the large-scale structure, not the details along the way.

(String Quartet No.8 is quite weird and not entirely working for me as a complete work just now.  But then, String Quartet No.7 came more and more alive over half a dozen listens yesterday and the day before.)

I'm one of those listeners that likes to take breaks from composers that I don't quite like on first or even fourth hearing. I think my problem with Holmboe was the simple matter of biting off more than I could chew. I tried to listen to all of his symphonies over a period of two days and that's just impossible. Of course I'm not going to "get" a composer that I've tried to force feed down my throat. Lesson learned here. Let things happen and if they don't, then they don't, but don't be afraid to try again just be careful not to overindulge.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 10, 2013, 07:38:26 PM
I tried to listen to all of his symphonies over a period of two days and that's just impossible.

 :o  Hell yes.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2013, 07:39:44 PM
:o  Hell yes.

 :P
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 10, 2013, 07:54:47 PM
So, just curious, was Symphony No.2 your starting point this time around, or had you tried others?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2013, 08:03:47 PM
So, just curious, was Symphony No.2 your starting point this time around, or had you tried others?

It was my starting point and then I listened to Sinfonia in Memoriam. Both works are coupled together in the box set.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2013, 06:30:00 AM
Last night, I listened to Holmboe's Symphonies 4 & 5. Really great! I liked the 5th much better than the 4th, although it did has some beautiful sections, especially in the slow movement. The 5th was much more concise, which is what I was expected, especially with it's three-movement structure.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on April 12, 2013, 12:39:26 PM
At last.  ::)  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 12, 2013, 04:37:59 PM
Last night, I listened to Holmboe's Symphonies 4 & 5. Really great! I liked the 5th much better than the 4th, although it did has some beautiful sections, especially in the slow movement. The 5th was much more concise, which is what I was expected, especially with it's three-movement structure.

I'm not really a fan of the 4th, except for the Gloria. Partly it's that I don't find the text very convincing. I'm also not that well-versed in choral works generally, and certainly not in Holmboe's extensive contribution to the genre (it's on the to-do list).

The 5th, on the other hand, is the very first one of his works I listened to (following the recommendation of the Penguin Guide that it was a good entry-point) and I've always enjoyed it.  The first movement actually reminds me of the first movement of Beethoven's 5th, in that both have a fairly relentless rhythm and construct a movement out of very few motifs.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2013, 04:49:55 PM
At last.  ::)  ;)

 :P
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2013, 04:50:57 PM
I'm not really a fan of the 4th, except for the Gloria. Partly it's that I don't find the text very convincing. I'm also not that well-versed in choral works generally, and certainly not in Holmboe's extensive contribution to the genre (it's on the to-do list).

The 5th, on the other hand, is the very first one of his works I listened to (following the recommendation of the Penguin Guide that it was a good entry-point) and I've always enjoyed it.  The first movement actually reminds me of the first movement of Beethoven's 5th, in that both have a fairly relentless rhythm and construct a movement out of very few motifs.

I did like the 5th a lot more, but the 4th wasn't bad at all. Would I listen to it very often? Of course not but this doesn't mean that I didn't at least get something out of it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 13, 2013, 06:42:16 PM
The 11th string quartet, the 'Rustico', is a real delight. I think it's my favourite so far on my April numerical listening tour.  I'm pretty certain none of the others have left me with a grin on my face at the end.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 23, 2013, 04:48:35 AM
Up to quartet no.17. Still going... not worn out yet  ;)

No.13 was actually one of the ones I had difficulty with this time around, surprisingly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on April 23, 2013, 06:23:48 AM
Up to quartet no.17. Still going... not worn out yet  ;)

No.13 was actually one of the ones I had difficulty with this time around, surprisingly.

We want a full overview!!

I still find the sonics on these cds a bit tight and wiry, no?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 23, 2013, 07:21:14 AM
We want a full overview!!

I still find the sonics on these cds a bit tight and wiry, no?

A full overview... I should have been taking written notes, it's been so long since the first three... I'll still be able to give you some very general impressions, eg I definitely feel that the quartets divide into a number of different chronological groups.

And then I'm actually considering listening to them in more rapid-fire succession, jumping through the chronology, next week.

They are on the tight and wiry side, particularly the first couple of volumes, but as someone has said previously (Karl?) it does tend to suit the music reasonably well.  I don't find myself wanting a more romantic sort of bloom. And the great slower movements in some of the quartets (eg the andantes in 11 and 12) still work. I suppose they come across as passionate rather than especially smooth and rich.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 25, 2013, 07:15:35 PM
And so, today I have reached quartet no.20.  Twenty quartets on 26 days.

Wow.

We all know I'm an obsessive Holmboe nut, so it's no surprise that I have the urge to go back and deepen my knowledge of these works again.  It would be interesting to see how many of them I could 'get' on a first listen now.  It's extremely common for me to listen to a Holmboe piece - even the symphonies which I've owned for quite a few years now - several times over the space of a few days, before I really feel like I'm grasping the flow of the music.  And what I love about Holmboe is that flow, from one movement to another and across a whole work.

There aren't that many of these quartets that communicate to me in a really direct, immediate fashion.  Quartet No.11, the 'Rustico', is one that does, which I think is why it's currently my favourite.  It's relatively easy to connect to its strong rhythms and pastoral feel.  I think there are several other 'pastoral' quartets as well - numbers 2, 16 and 17 all give me that sense.

Some of the quartets I had thought had communicated to me well on the first listen in previous months were slightly more difficult this time. The real surprise was no.13 - my recollection had been that this was one I responded to immediately, but this time it was one I struggled with. In other cases, ones that I didn't think I had really responded to the first time made a stronger impression this time - no.19 is an example.  But every quartet has its rewards.

I do think there are some groupings within the works, but on the whole Holmboe's style is remarkably consistent. It should be remembered there are no 'early' works in the numbered quartet series.  Quartet No.1 is opus 46 and Holmboe was already close to 40 years old.

Quartets 1 to 3 were essentially written together, although I do think quartet no.3 is a little different - it is bleaker and has some similarities with quartets 4 and 5, which tend to use simpler textures and are more direct than their predecessors.

Quartets 6 to 8 are, to me, definitely the most complex-sounding and challenging works in the series. There seems to be something about Holmboe's music in the 1960s that is tougher than his work before or after... I think I've read in a couple of places a suggestion that he felt challenged/influenced by some of his former pupils who thought his music wasn't 'modern' enough.  This is still recognisably the same composer though.

Quartet 9 goes back to textures more similar to quartets 4 and 5 - MusicWeb describes it as 'Bachian' and I think the description is apt.  Quartet 10 is somewhat similar although it has a little more of the flavour of quartets 6 to 8 in it.

Quartet 11, the 'Rustico', is notably more sprightly and vibrant and is one of the most cheerful works.  Quartet 12 is also quite energetic.  Both of these quartets have particularly superb Andantes as their longest movement.  Quartets 13 and 14 are relatively dreamy and light-textured - this is something that I've seen commented on with some other Holmboe from the 1970s period, so it seems to be one of those little shifts in his style.

Quartets 15 and 16 are both particularly compact works, relatively direct in their expression, probably more similar to 11 than to their immediate predecessors.

And then, quartets 17 to 20 which feature titles from different periods of the day.  Listening to them again, I honestly don't know where this idea came from that they are more austere than the previous quartets.  They're full of energy and vitality.  They all have 6 movements, but trace different kinds of arcs.  What they seem to have in common is a gradual moving away from the starting point, so that movements 4 and 5 are quite different in character from the beginning, before the final movement returns back to something more like the starting point.  No.17 is warm and pastoral (but is considerably less warm in the 4th and 5th movements).  No.18 starts full of uncertainty and fluttering before gradually becoming more controlled.  No.19 is firm and darkly energetic but becomes smoother and serene before the opening of the finale disrupts everything again.  And No.20 seems to be about the breakdown of rhythm before the finale comes back with an ostinato.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on April 25, 2013, 07:28:39 PM
I am impressed, dude!  I had to take them all at a much more leisurely pace, and I think I lost the aerial perspective on the changes from front to back.  This summer will be the time I try them all again.  I actually need to get some more of his music; all I know is string quartets, the symphonies, and the FOUR SYMPHONIC METAMORPHOSES disc on Bis, still my favorite.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 26, 2013, 04:26:28 PM
Yes, well done!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 01, 2013, 02:45:12 AM
I did go back and listen to all 20 numbered works again.  I got through a dozen of them in just 2 days before taking a bit of a pause.  It's amazing, though, what a bit of familiarity with a piece of music can do to your ease of listening!

This time I made notes on each work as I went (I didn't listen in chronological order this time).  I know I'm not the first person to place my thoughts on each quartet in this thread. It was very interesting at the end to see how much we agreed. The answer was: not very much at all...

Quartet No.1 - The style of the first two movements is a lot more consciously rhetorical in style than later quartets. It reminds me of Shostakovich (NB I don’t actually know any other 20th century quartets besides Holmboe and Shostakovich, so other frequently cited reference points like Bartok are not going to come up for me).  The third movement, after its grand introduction, becomes a fairly energetic 5/4 dance.  It’s good fun (the slow down before the finish is quite amusing), but thanks to the recording it gets a little shrill!

Quartet No.2 - This quartet opens with a delicate pastoral mood, with dark grey clouds moving across the landscape as the 1st movement progresses.  The finale returns to much the same feeling, albeit now in the form of a gentle 5/4 dance.  In between there is frequently a sense of open air and perhaps inclement weather – the central scherzo is full of feints and hesitations as well as rustic passages.

Quartet No.3 - The 1st movement is bleak and sombre music with a relentless tread.  The 2nd injects a lot of motion but, to me, no real sense of progress, before the 3rd movement chaconne inevitably creates stasis.  The 4th movement has a lot more energy and seems like it brings matters to a strong conclusion, only to be completely undercut by the true finale which gradually drags the work back to its bleak beginning.

Quartet No.4 - This is a quartet with a strong sense of the dramatic, whether in the opening andante appassionato, the tremolo rush of the presto espansivo (an extraordinary title when you think about it) or the eerie restraint of the largo e semplice.  It’s somewhat surprising, then, that the finale is quite bright in mood and ends peacefully with a clear major chord.

Quartet No.5 - This is a relatively straightforward work. The moody and forceful opening motif permeates and sets the tone for much of the 1st movement, but towards the end there is a sense of peace. The central Adagio (which opens and closes with a version of the same motif) is gentler, but still has an air of resignation. The finale is more energetic, but no happier in mood than its predecessors until it, too, finds peace just at the end.

Quartet No.6 - The fast sections of the 1st movement have an air of chaos about them, even violence in the first of them. The second movement isn’t any calmer. There is a sense of unease in the 3rd movement. The finale is more straightforwardly rhythmic but still full of a wild collection of sounds.

Quartet No.7 - The 1st movement travels through a wide variety of textures, but keeps returning to its earthy beginnings. The 2nd movement begins in complete contrast, with airy pizzicato and elusively pulsing rhythms. It grows in substance before dissolving again.  The long final movement successfully fuses numerous sections into a satisfying conclusion to this complex quartet.

Quartet No.8 - To me, this is the most consciously ‘modern’ quartet, full of strange sounds: harmonics, bent notes, weird fluttering, surprising leaps and abrupt changes.  It represents Holmboe pushing his musical language farther than normal. The 4th movement stands somewhat apart, dominated by dramatic solos, and functions as an introduction to the finale.

Quartet No.9 - The dominant impression of this music is austerity. The long opening andante sets the tone – not especially dark or tragic, just moving forward steadily.  There is some passion, and the 4th movement injects a sense of greater drama, but then the finale returns to the pacing and rhythm of the beginning before fading away peacefully.

Quartet No.10 - This is moderately severe and intellectual music. There are some fairly clear sections within these 2 long movements, but the structure enables reprises of previous sections. Each movement begins slowly before gathering pace later on. The 2nd movement in particular seems to become a major battle between different tempos… and with no clear winner at the end.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 01, 2013, 02:52:37 AM
Quartet No.11 - The opening of the ‘Rustico’ (which is quoted in both the 2nd and 4th movements) really does sound like it’s full of birdsong. Everything has a wonderfully light and transparent texture.  Even in the minor key tonality of the andante movement there is slight sadness rather than tragedy.  The faster movements are full of rhythmic bounce, especially the finale.

Quartet No.12 - There’s a certain roughly comical vein in the faster movements, particularly in the first but even in the finale which begins in a scherzo-like way before turning more serious and ending sourly.  The slow movements are entirely serious and inward-looking; the 2nd movement andante is easily the longest of the five and also one of my favourite things in any of the quartets.

Quartet No.13 - This quartet often has a hushed, ethereal quality to it.  At other times the music is firmer, yet it retains a sense of transparency.  And just when the finale appears to have reached a definite conclusion, it instead carries on with ghostly echoes of earlier music.

Quartet No.14 - Opening with an entrancing Gypsy-like melody, the 1st movement weaves a dreamy atmosphere which persists through much of the quartet (as do the melody’s trills), despite the attempts of the 3rd movement to inject some more urgency. The other fast movements are ultimately light and light-hearted, with the finale skipping along and eventually dissolving.

Quartet No.15 - There’s a certain aggressive and angry air to this relatively short quartet, as the first couple of movements fly by.  And then, partway through the 3rd movement funeral march, it’s as if the fight drains out of it. When the pace eventually picks up again during the finale, it’s still not happy music but some of the aggression has gone, and the coda’s reprise of the quartet’s opening motif somehow sounds as if it can find a peaceful resolution.

Quartet No.16 - A short quartet with a relatively simple structure, held together by a very strong sense of rhythmic pulse (particularly in its first 2 movements) and a fluttering figure.  The flutter is small in the 1st movement, becomes a major feature in the more urgent, brighter 2nd movement, and it also reappears in the background of the 3rd one. The 4th movement Presto is dominated by constant scurrying. The first movement in particular has a bit of a pastoral feel, although this doesn’t have anything like the warmth of the 11th quartet.

Quartet No.17 - There’s a certain pastoral air to the 1st movement, with its sighing opening figure. The next couple of movements maintain a similar mood – not without moments of drama, but on the whole relatively warm and relaxed.  The mood becomes somewhat more urgent over the course of the 4th movement and greyer in the 5th, before the finale fuses all of this together with a rustic, dance-like quality.

Quartet No.18 - This work starts off quietly and uneasily. There is a sense of hesitation, but very gradually (over the course of several movements), the music becomes stronger and more sure of itself.  The 3rd movement starts firmly but then lapses back into more inward music, before a moment of quiet crisis sets it back on the original path. But the music is also tending to get darker, until the finale returns to the lighter textures of the beginning with a new-found confidence.

Quartet No.19 - The opening of this quartet is thick and dark.  From there it gradually lightens – passing through fugue and canon textures in the first 2 movements until reaching a sense of peace in the 4th and the 5th (which is even titled ‘intermezzo sereno’).  That peace is abruptly broken by the superb pizzicato opening of the finale.

Quartet No.20 - The neighbouring movements in this quartet are highly contrasted, which isn’t always the case with Holmboe.  The 4th movement scherzo is particularly entertaining. There seems to be quite a bit of use of silences, and of breaks in an otherwise steady rhythm – the main themes of several movements have this quality.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on May 01, 2013, 04:12:38 AM
Great work, thanks for sharing these notes.
EDIT: my interest is now really piqued for revisiting these quartets...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 01, 2013, 04:28:40 AM
Outstanding survey, thanks!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 15, 2013, 02:50:58 PM
Bearing in mind that I love Holmboe deeply, and will eventually purchase both, could you guys please recommend a course of action to me?

I own just over half of the SQ cycle from Dacapo, and am wondering whether to finish buying the remaining releases to complete the set... OR whether I should get hold of the Kontra Quartet cycle first. The KQ cycle would be less expensive, but was wondering your opinions about which to do first. Due to cash flow, owning both will be something for the future rather than soon, but I will eventually do both. Right now, it is a case of one or the other.

Relative merits?

PS ... Symphonies are wonderful, IMHO. 3, 6, 7, 8, 11-13 in particular.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on July 15, 2013, 11:09:12 PM
Bearing in mind that I love Holmboe deeply, and will eventually purchase both, could you guys please recommend a course of action to me?

I own just over half of the SQ cycle from Dacapo, and am wondering whether to finish buying the remaining releases to complete the set... OR whether I should get hold of the Kontra Quartet cycle first. The KQ cycle would be less expensive, but was wondering your opinions about which to do first. Due to cash flow, owning both will be something for the future rather than soon, but I will eventually do both. Right now, it is a case of one or the other.

Relative merits?

PS ... Symphonies are wonderful, IMHO. 3, 6, 7, 8, 11-13 in particular.

I like 4 and 10 too. 4 in memory of his brother who died in WW2 has a great, inspiriting opening and No 10 is one of my favourites in the cycle. I had 8 and 10 on LP in my youth, so those works have always held a special place for me. No 7 is perhaps my favourite of all and No 6 has the most beautiful opening (as does the No 6 of Langgaard for that matter - but that's another story!)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on July 16, 2013, 02:24:36 AM
I own just over half of the SQ cycle from Dacapo, and am wondering whether to finish buying the remaining releases to complete the set... OR whether I should get hold of the Kontra Quartet cycle first.

Err, the Dacapo cycle of Holmboe's string quartets is the Kontra Quartet cycle. The KQ recorded all of Holmboe's string quartets for the label as separate discs in the 1990s, and these were then collected together into a box set reissue a couple of years ago. If you've already got some of the individual discs from the 1990s, you can find the remaining discs at very low prices at various online retailers, or you could just purchase the box set reissue which doesn't costs much more than US$20.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 16, 2013, 02:38:45 AM
Nice to see a little activity here.  And Harry has fetched in the SQ box, wonder how he's enjoying them . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 16, 2013, 02:47:04 AM
Err, the Dacapo cycle of Holmboe's string quartets is the Kontra Quartet cycle. The KQ recorded all of Holmboe's string quartets for the label as separate discs in the 1990s, and these were then collected together into a box set reissue a couple of years ago. If you've already got some of the individual discs from the 1990s, you can find the remaining discs at very low prices at various online retailers, or you could just purchase the box set reissue which doesn't costs much more than US$20.

That makes my decision much more straightforward, then ;D. My understanding was that they were two separate, historically distinct recording cycles - might help if I checked before asking, huh? I think I shall indulge in the mp3 version rather than the physical discs. I do think that these SQ deserve higher profile.

Also, thanks to orfeo for that very helpful summary.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on July 16, 2013, 05:33:07 AM
Quartet No.11 - The opening of the ‘Rustico’ (which is quoted in both the 2nd and 4th movements) really does sound like it’s full of birdsong. Everything has a wonderfully light and transparent texture.  Even in the minor key tonality of the andante movement there is slight sadness rather than tragedy.  The faster movements are full of rhythmic bounce, especially the finale.

Quartet No.12 - There’s a certain roughly comical vein in the faster movements, particularly in the first but even in the finale which begins in a scherzo-like way before turning more serious and ending sourly.  The slow movements are entirely serious and inward-looking; the 2nd movement andante is easily the longest of the five and also one of my favourite things in any of the quartets.

Quartet No.13 - This quartet often has a hushed, ethereal quality to it.  At other times the music is firmer, yet it retains a sense of transparency.  And just when the finale appears to have reached a definite conclusion, it instead carries on with ghostly echoes of earlier music.

Quartet No.14 - Opening with an entrancing Gypsy-like melody, the 1st movement weaves a dreamy atmosphere which persists through much of the quartet (as do the melody’s trills), despite the attempts of the 3rd movement to inject some more urgency. The other fast movements are ultimately light and light-hearted, with the finale skipping along and eventually dissolving.

Quartet No.15 - There’s a certain aggressive and angry air to this relatively short quartet, as the first couple of movements fly by.  And then, partway through the 3rd movement funeral march, it’s as if the fight drains out of it. When the pace eventually picks up again during the finale, it’s still not happy music but some of the aggression has gone, and the coda’s reprise of the quartet’s opening motif somehow sounds as if it can find a peaceful resolution.

Quartet No.16 - A short quartet with a relatively simple structure, held together by a very strong sense of rhythmic pulse (particularly in its first 2 movements) and a fluttering figure.  The flutter is small in the 1st movement, becomes a major feature in the more urgent, brighter 2nd movement, and it also reappears in the background of the 3rd one. The 4th movement Presto is dominated by constant scurrying. The first movement in particular has a bit of a pastoral feel, although this doesn’t have anything like the warmth of the 11th quartet.

Quartet No.17 - There’s a certain pastoral air to the 1st movement, with its sighing opening figure. The next couple of movements maintain a similar mood – not without moments of drama, but on the whole relatively warm and relaxed.  The mood becomes somewhat more urgent over the course of the 4th movement and greyer in the 5th, before the finale fuses all of this together with a rustic, dance-like quality.

Quartet No.18 - This work starts off quietly and uneasily. There is a sense of hesitation, but very gradually (over the course of several movements), the music becomes stronger and more sure of itself.  The 3rd movement starts firmly but then lapses back into more inward music, before a moment of quiet crisis sets it back on the original path. But the music is also tending to get darker, until the finale returns to the lighter textures of the beginning with a new-found confidence.

Quartet No.19 - The opening of this quartet is thick and dark.  From there it gradually lightens – passing through fugue and canon textures in the first 2 movements until reaching a sense of peace in the 4th and the 5th (which is even titled ‘intermezzo sereno’).  That peace is abruptly broken by the superb pizzicato opening of the finale.

Quartet No.20 - The neighbouring movements in this quartet are highly contrasted, which isn’t always the case with Holmboe.  The 4th movement scherzo is particularly entertaining. There seems to be quite a bit of use of silences, and of breaks in an otherwise steady rhythm – the main themes of several movements have this quality.

So, the rumor is is that the disc with 13/14/15 is the very best one. I had tried about the first 3 or 4 discs and didn't 'like' any of it (just personal). Everyone says that the 13-15 is the way to go.

Also, I was never happy with the tight, dry recording, which did nothing to make the Kontra's playing more beguiling.

I'm more than happy to try the 13-15 one day, but my tolerance for Holmboe has waned since the Penguin Guide days when he was hailed as the great savior, and the disc of Symphonies 8-9 was hailed as the second coming.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 16, 2013, 06:06:23 AM
It's always hyperbole with you. It is excellent music, period.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on July 16, 2013, 06:57:38 AM
It's always hyperbole with you. It is excellent music, period.

!!!!!!gggaaAAAAAHHHHhhh!!!!!!!

I'm perfectly reasonable, and my opinions are FACT!! If you had to pick between Bartok and Holmboe, with the words 'good' and 'excellent', surely Bartok would take the 'excellent'??? chop chop Holmboe doesn't make the cut, just like Carter doesn't make the cut. The Room at the Top is already filled with 'excellent' Composers. Sibelius vs Holmboe? Sibelius wins.

Norgard vs Holmboe   eh?  eh? That might strain...

Holmboes 8-9 are no Sibelius 7. And I knew Sibelius. (Thread bleed)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 16, 2013, 07:06:33 AM
Put the Snickers and the Mountain Dew down, fella.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 16, 2013, 07:50:12 AM
It's always hyperbole with you. It is excellent music, period.

Yes, yes it is. *rubs Karl*
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 16, 2013, 12:20:00 PM
(http://c3.cduniverse.ws/resized/250x500/music/628/8217628.jpg)

Done. I now feel immensely guilty for spending the money, but extremely happy to have the set. Yay Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on July 17, 2013, 05:37:47 AM
(http://c3.cduniverse.ws/resized/250x500/music/628/8217628.jpg)

Done. I now feel immensely guilty for spending the money, but extremely happy to have the set. Yay Holmboe.

How much IS that set? :o
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 17, 2013, 07:58:40 AM
How much IS that set? :o

Downloads straight from Dacapo, £16.50. Lovely.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 17, 2013, 08:30:20 AM
Downloads straight from Dacapo, £16.50.

Good score! I pulled the trigger on the CD box when it was at the improbably ripe price-point of $23.86.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Parsifal on July 17, 2013, 08:40:14 AM
Good score! I pulled the trigger on the CD box when it was at the improbably ripe price-point of $23.86.

Looking back, I got it for $23.83.  Sucker!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on July 17, 2013, 09:10:31 AM
Looking back, I got it for $23.83.  Sucker!

£15.71 at today's exchange rate. Pah. I was conned.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on August 04, 2013, 11:11:09 AM
This makes me want to go all 'Mr. Stabby'.

Perhaps I am wrong to feel that way.

 http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-a-hand-for-holmboe--en-haand-til-holmboe--katrine-ring--deconstructions.aspx  (http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-a-hand-for-holmboe--en-haand-til-holmboe--katrine-ring--deconstructions.aspx)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on August 05, 2013, 06:15:39 AM
This makes me want to go all 'Mr. Stabby'.

Perhaps I am wrong to feel that way.

 http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-a-hand-for-holmboe--en-haand-til-holmboe--katrine-ring--deconstructions.aspx  (http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-a-hand-for-holmboe--en-haand-til-holmboe--katrine-ring--deconstructions.aspx)

Mr. Stabby, THAT's hilarious!!!! (we should party!!!!) Yea, I wasn't prepared for THAT!! :'( >:D Feel free to send her tweets of your junk!!

"International DJ" :P :P :P

"breathes NEW LIFE" into Holmboe...


oh, what would we DO without her???????


I'll stop here,... it's a family forum
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on August 05, 2013, 12:53:01 PM
She really had me when she started talking about improving the 'boring' bits.

Annoying bint.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 08, 2013, 06:35:21 PM
My records tell me I got the string quartet cycle for $26.77.  That's on CD.

Snypyrr, I know you keep banging on about the disc with quartets 13-15 being the 'best' one, but just because someone somewhere believed that it doesn't mean that it's going to be that way for everyone.  Truth be told my preferred quartets are scattered throughout so I would find it quite challenging to pick a single disc.  If forced I would possibly go for the disc with quartets 10-12.

EDIT: Oh yes. Hello, forum. Been travelling for nearly 3 months. Back now.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on August 08, 2013, 07:12:18 PM
My records tell me I got the string quartet cycle for $26.77.  That's on CD.

Snypyrr, I know you keep banging on about the disc with quartets 13-15 being the 'best' one, but just because someone somewhere believed that it doesn't mean that it's going to be that way for everyone.  Truth be told my preferred quartets are scattered throughout so I would find it quite challenging to pick a single disc.  If forced I would possibly go for the disc with quartets 10-12.

EDIT: Oh yes. Hello, forum. Been travelling for nearly 3 months. Back now.

Well, I waaas getting the series, and I got each one up to 13-15, but, between the Danacord slightly astringent sound, and the  music, I wasn't getting it at all. I have held out hope for 13-15 (which, yes, I believe Penguin sited as their fav), but... maybe I can just check YouTube?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 09, 2013, 01:16:26 AM
EDIT: Oh yes. Hello, forum. Been travelling for nearly 3 months. Back now.

Welcome back!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 09, 2013, 09:08:00 PM
Well, I waaas getting the series, and I got each one up to 13-15, but, between the Danacord slightly astringent sound, and the  music, I wasn't getting it at all. I have held out hope for 13-15 (which, yes, I believe Penguin sited as their fav), but... maybe I can just check YouTube?

Well, 13 and 14 are somewhat different from others in the cycle, but if you didn't find anything you liked in the first 12 quartets I'm not that confident you'll be won over.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on August 14, 2013, 03:46:45 AM
Well, 13 and 14 are somewhat different from others in the cycle, but if you didn't find anything you liked in the first 12 quartets I'm not that confident you'll be won over.

Agreed. Keep listening though, because if something does break and you fall for Holmboe's music, then there is no looking back. I love him inordinately.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: snyprrr on August 14, 2013, 04:23:35 AM
Well, 13 and 14 are somewhat different from others in the cycle, but if you didn't find anything you liked in the first 12 quartets I'm not that confident you'll be won over.

well ok, there's a little confirmation.

But seriously, you all LIKE the recorded sound of this cycle?? I found it so dry and brittle... aaand, I dooo seem to have a problem with the Kontra Quartet. Either they always get recorded too aggressively (or something), or they just play with a corporate ferocity that I don't like. waaaah!!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 14, 2013, 04:28:45 AM
Corporate ferocity, you weed?!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Cato on August 14, 2013, 04:38:03 AM
But seriously, you all LIKE the recorded sound of this cycle?? I found it so dry and brittle... aaand, I dooo seem to have a problem with the Kontra Quartet. Either they always get recorded too aggressively (or something), or they just play with a corporate ferocity that I don't like. waaaah!!

Corporate ferocity, you weed?!

Sounds like a hostile take-over!

Do you mean "corporal ferocity" perhaps?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 14, 2013, 04:44:42 AM
The sound is definitely dry. I don't know if I'd specifically say I like it, but I don't DISlike it. Except very slightly on the first disc in the set. The recorded sound doesn't get in the way for me.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 14, 2013, 04:55:38 AM
. . . The recorded sound doesn't get in the way for me.

+ 1
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: pencils on August 14, 2013, 08:58:48 AM
The recorded sound doesn't get in the way for me.

+2
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on November 07, 2013, 06:09:26 AM
I am currently falling completely and utterly in love with Symphony No.2, which wasn't in the top rank for me when I first got to know the symphonies. I'm hearing all sorts of new details... Like some of the brilliant use of percussion that is subtler than the really noisy bits. There's a rhythm that links part of the 1st movement with part of the 3rd.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on November 08, 2013, 02:53:27 AM
I'd be interested in anyone else's thoughts/feelings about Symphony No.13.

I still can't get much out of it compared to most of the other symphonies. It seems a lot more blocky, rather than having his normal sense of flow, and frequently it's rather unsubtle (although I do like the last movement rather more). In complete contrast to Symphony No.2, here the percussion is rather off-putting - especially at the very opening, which strikes me as not very 'symphonic'.

I know it gets praised with an 'oh wow, look at what "vital" music this really old man was still writing', but I'm feeling like the old man was shouting a bit until someone suggested he turn up his hearing aid...

Is it just me?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on November 18, 2013, 12:56:32 AM
Having listened to Symphony No.13 a number of times over the past week-and-a-half, I feel I need to issue a public apology for casting aspersions on its character.

Just in case anyone was paying attention, you understand.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on November 18, 2013, 09:02:42 AM
Please continue!  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on November 24, 2013, 03:56:41 PM
I like Holmboe's music a lot (I mainly know the symphonies and the string quartets). At the moment I'm going through the SQs and liking them even more. I love the way that the SQs sound so right, that is, they sound exactly what I think a C20 tough tonal SQ should sound like: plenty of flow, wonderful counterpoint, moments of intense beauty &c

In particular I love the moment when each quartet reaches its tonal goal. I don't have much of sense of tonality, but the ending of each (and the ending of each movement as well) always seems just right.

However, I can also see why people might not get him, because it's difficult to pin down his style. If you listen to other C20 masters like Nielsen, VW, Robert Simpson &c every bar of their pieces could only have been written by them (respectively). With Holmboe I struggle to think what is distinctive about his style. A composer he reminds me of in this regard is Elizabeth Maconchy (who also wrote lots of very fine SQs).

I don't mind the sound of the Da Capo SQ recordings, it suits the music, you wouldn't want it too warm! I usually listen to music quite softly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on November 24, 2013, 05:53:20 PM
No folks, I didn't lend my CDs to the other local...  :D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 02, 2013, 05:02:12 AM
AHA! I KNEW IT!!

The Trombone Sonata, opus 172a, and To a Living Stone, opus 172c, are based on the same musical material!

Which means that the (I think) unrecorded piano quintet Translation, opus 172b, would be as well.  I've seen explicit indications for some other works that share opus numbers that they share material, but not, surprisingly, for these even though they were recorded by the same group. The liner notes for both 172c (on Volume 1) and 172a (on Volume 2) fail to mention the connection. The main catalogue of Holmboe's work doesn't say anything either!

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 06, 2013, 03:32:18 AM
Having had it suggested that I post my thoughts on my new Holmboe discs here in this thread, this is the first one that I've completed listening to:



Now, as I said, I haven't completed any of the other discs yet, but... wow is this good, and it might be the best of the lot.  The sound quality, as everybody I've seen talk about this disc has said, is fantastic. (NB The mere fact that I've bought a disc in the year of release, so that other people are still talking about it, is extremely rare for me!)

Then there's the music. The early Concerto for Orchestra is surprisingly un-Holmboe like, really. There are some traces there, yes, but it doesn't even sound that much like the early opus number works (this concerto is 1929, and op.1 is 1935). I certainly like it. I'm not sure it's going to become a favourite though.

The other two works, though... fantastic. I am not, in general, always enamoured of concertos, but I found both of these works riveting. The Viola Concerto is wonderfully dynamic, and the Violin Concerto just has this fantastically magical, transfixing air about it - I found myself entirely listening to the violin's weaving and twisting lines and barely registering the supporting orchestra. The liner notes talks about the violinist's role "as a fantasizing, temperamental folk-like musician", which seems very apt.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 06, 2013, 06:23:10 AM
That's a great disc right there no doubt about it. Have you heard any of the concertante recordings on BIS? I really love the work Beatus Parvo which is a choir concerto for chorus (obviously), strings, and timpani. You'll love this work I think.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 06, 2013, 06:37:45 AM
That's a great disc right there no doubt about it. Have you heard any of the concertante recordings on BIS? I really love the work Beatus Parvo which is a choir concerto for chorus (obviously), strings, and timpani. You'll love this work I think.

The Recorder and Flute Concertos disc was one of my recent purchases. I've heard quite a few bits and pieces of the other BIS concertante recordings via Spotify, and in fact Beatus Parvo made an exceptionally good impression from just one listen.

(I recently sampled all the things on the 'chamber concerto' recordings that are not duplicated across BIS and Da Capo, to see if I had any clear preference for my next bout of Holmboe shopping. The answer was that I clearly need both sets...)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 06, 2013, 07:37:17 AM
The Recorder and Flute Concertos disc was one of my recent purchases. I've heard quite a few bits and pieces of the other BIS concertante recordings via Spotify, and in fact Beatus Parvo made an exceptionally good impression from just one listen.

(I recently sampled all the things on the 'chamber concerto' recordings that are not duplicated across BIS and Da Capo, to see if I had any clear preference for my next bout of Holmboe shopping. The answer was that I clearly need both sets...)

The Brass Concertos disc is also worth picking up at some point. The Trombone Concerto, in particular, was rather good. I haven't heard any of the Chamber Concerto works yet, so I'll be eyeing these in the future.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 06, 2013, 01:12:11 PM
The Brass Concertos disc is also worth picking up at some point. The Trombone Concerto, in particular, was rather good. I haven't heard any of the Chamber Concerto works yet, so I'll be eyeing these in the future.

Ah, but the Trombone Concerto is a Chamber Concerto. That's the trick.  At some point Holmboe changed from calling the series of 13 numbered concertos 'chamber concertos' to just plain 'concertos'.  Da Capo has recorded them on 4 discs of 'chamber concertos', and BIS has recorded a considerable number of them without that title.  The trumpet, trombone, piano, clarinet, and oboe concertos, and two of the orchestral concertos, are all part of what Da Capo calls 'chamber concertos 1 to 13'.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 06, 2013, 05:53:00 PM
Ah, but the Trombone Concerto is a Chamber Concerto. That's the trick.  At some point Holmboe changed from calling the series of 13 numbered concertos 'chamber concertos' to just plain 'concertos'.  Da Capo has recorded them on 4 discs of 'chamber concertos', and BIS has recorded a considerable number of them without that title.  The trumpet, trombone, piano, clarinet, and oboe concertos, and two of the orchestral concertos, are all part of what Da Capo calls 'chamber concertos 1 to 13'.

Ah, okay. Well you're definitely much more affluent in Holmboe's oeuvre than I am, so I appreciate the continuing education. :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 13, 2013, 11:29:08 PM
I finished off another one of my new discs last night:



It felt to me like these works are often lighter in tone than the works on Volume 1. Although really, I'd have to go back and listen to the whole of each disc to see whether that's a fair impression. What terrible tasks I set myself.  ;)

But certainly the Quartetto Medico is deliberately a lighter affair.

I liked the sonata for solo cello quite a bit, but the clear standout on this first set of listens was the Sextet, for flute, clarinet, bassoon, violin, viola and cello. The liner notes seem to think that's a fairly rare combination, but it really works. The instruments can be set off against each other in pairs, at high, middle and low pitches.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 20, 2013, 01:49:44 AM
More thoughts on the other discs I got...



I really enjoyed the flute concertos, especially no.2, and especially the final movement which is just a total delight. Crazy pizzicato strings and a couple of bassoons is a great opening.

The recorder concerto... it's not that I dislike it, it's just that the sound-world is so strange. I find the wobble in the recorder's tone a little disconcerting right now. I may well get used to it. I'd be curious to hear the other recording (Michala Petri) to see if it sounds any different.



Holmboe's masterpieces as some have suggested? For me at the moment... no. At least, not in total. I think Epitaph is marvellous, well up to the standard of Holmboe's symphonies and virtually part of that series in all but name.  I also found Tempo variabile very rewarding.  However, I really didn't get much out of the short Monolith.  As for Epilog, the work that did initially get labelled as a symphony... I think Holmboe actually worked out it wasn't really at the same level as his symphonies, certainly in terms of motivic organisation. At the moment I find the first half of the piece a little repetitive and 'obvious' by his standards. It's big and dark and powerful, yes, but I don't currently find it as impressive as a couple of its disc-mates.



I tried listening to all of the preludes together, and in truth a lot of them blend together. They don't all necessarily have distinct characters from each other. But they are all, in fact, quite good pieces. Exercises in contrasting textures more than anything else, with the instruments used in various 'blocks' - winds, strings, brass, and the percussive accents. The orchestra used is small enough to have individual instruments register, but large enough to provide quite a lot of variety.

The 2 chamber works on the second disc are also enjoyable, certainly similar in approach to the other chamber works more recently recorded by Ensemble MidtVest.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 20, 2013, 08:24:54 AM
Thanks for these, please carry on.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 20, 2013, 08:33:11 PM
Thanks for these, please carry on.

I'll have to buy some more discs, then!  :D

PS Provisional Holmboe shopping list: the 4 discs of 'chamber' concertos from Da Capo, the 3 discs of 'concertos' from BIS that include about half of the same works, the Requiem for Nietzsche, and if I can find a copy at a decent price the complete collection of Liber Canticorum that I think is on the Danica label.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 05, 2014, 02:37:00 PM
Hey Guys

Is there a recent CD with selections from the Liber Canticorum available? Can't seem to find one.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 05, 2014, 03:03:22 PM
Hey Guys

Is there a recent CD with selections from the Liber Canticorum available? Can't seem to find one.

Depends what you want. I don't think there's any single CD that is just Liber Canticorum. Bits of it appear within a number of choral collections.

On the other hand, if you want the whole thing, there is a complete 3-CD set that was released by Danica. I haven't got it yet, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to get on CD, but Amazon has the mp3s of it.



EDIT: You might still be able to buy it on CD for only about A$40 plus shipping. http://www.lillemuko.dk/en/discography/vagn-holmboe-liber-canticorum
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 05, 2014, 04:35:56 PM
Thanks Orfeo

Being in Australia I don't think I can download Amazon MP3s (seem to remember trying once).

But I will investigate the CDs from Denmark.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 05, 2014, 05:01:14 PM
But I will investigate the CDs from Denmark.

Hey, if they still have them, we could get 2 at once and save on postage!  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 28, 2014, 09:38:31 PM
I thought I would never be saying this considering I struggled so long with Holmboe's music but he's slowly becoming one of my favorite composers (a long list I know). I don't know why I struggled, but his music is simply magnificent. I know Orfeo is a huge fan and I have say that his ongoing commentary on this thread has helped me come to appreciate the composer much more. Christo even knew Holmboe and it was wonderful reading his account of getting acquainted with the man behind the music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 29, 2014, 03:31:05 AM
 ;D

I saw you've had a listen to Symphony No.3 recently, and No.2 again.

I've got a hankering for Symphony No.6 at the moment, which my spreadsheet tells me I haven't listened to in full for over 2 years. Calyptorhynchus and I did indeed go for the Liber Canticorum set, so keen for that to arrive. It could trigger another general binge...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 29, 2014, 07:11:45 AM
;D

I saw you've had a listen to Symphony No.3 recently, and No.2 again.

I've got a hankering for Symphony No.6 at the moment, which my spreadsheet tells me I haven't listened to in full for over 2 years. Calyptorhynchus and I did indeed go for the Liber Canticorum set, so keen for that to arrive. It could trigger another general binge...

The 2nd and 3rd are damn good. 8) I have to be careful around on this thread as well because if I buy something it could very well trigger a binge as well. :) So is the 6th your favorite Holmboe symphony?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 29, 2014, 07:13:12 AM
I thought I would never be saying this considering I struggled so long with Holmboe's music but he's slowly becoming one of my favorite composers (a long list I know). I don't know why I struggled, but his music is simply magnificent. I know Orfeo is a huge fan and I have say that his ongoing commentary on this thread has helped me come to appreciate the composer much more. Christo even knew Holmboe and it was wonderful reading his account of getting acquainted with the man behind the music.
So... can I remind you now that Holmboe's book "Experiencing Music" is a fascinating read?  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 29, 2014, 07:13:49 AM
I've got that book in my wish list yet :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 29, 2014, 07:16:27 AM
So... can I remind you now that Holmboe's book "Experiencing Music" is a fascinating read?  :)

Thanks for reminding me about the book. Do you know Holmboe's music well, Brian?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 29, 2014, 01:04:46 PM
So is the 6th your favorite Holmboe symphony?

No. If I was picking just one I think it would be the 8th.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on January 29, 2014, 01:15:34 PM
No. If I was picking just one I think it would be the 8th.

I also greatly admire No 8 and regret that my fine old Vox/Turnabout LP of the work (my introduction to Holmboe) never made it to CD.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 29, 2014, 01:17:24 PM
Thanks for reminding me about the book. Do you know Holmboe's music well, Brian?
"Well," maybe not, but I do know and enjoy several symphonies (No. 3 hits it out of the park, for me), the symphonic cycle of four ... forget-what-they-are-called-works, the concertos album from last year with his smashing viola concerto, and a few chamber symphonies.

The book actually does not require extensive knowledge of Holmboe's music; he remarks on his own processes as a composer, listener, and thinker. It is actually very interesting to hear how certain works came to be and the evolution they go through from brain to paper.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 29, 2014, 02:39:42 PM
No. If I was picking just one I think it would be the 8th.

I'll probably be making my way around to the 8th quite soon as I seem to be listening to the whole cycle again.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 29, 2014, 02:40:44 PM
"Well," maybe not, but I do know and enjoy several symphonies (No. 3 hits it out of the park, for me), the symphonic cycle of four ... forget-what-they-are-called-works, the concertos album from last year with his smashing viola concerto, and a few chamber symphonies.

The book actually does not require extensive knowledge of Holmboe's music; he remarks on his own processes as a composer, listener, and thinker. It is actually very interesting to hear how certain works came to be and the evolution they go through from brain to paper.

I agree with you about Symphony No. 3 'Sinfonia Rustica'. A fine work with such an earthy, folky feel to it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 29, 2014, 03:54:55 PM
I agree with you about Symphony No. 3 'Sinfonia Rustica'. A fine work with such an earthy, folky feel to it.
Uh-oh. I was thinking of the sacred one. Maybe that's 4. ...or 5. I forget!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 29, 2014, 04:05:55 PM
Uh-oh. I was thinking of the sacred one. Maybe that's 4. ...or 5. I forget!

Sinfonia Sacra is No.4. The choral one. Probably my least favourite, personally.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: amw on January 29, 2014, 04:17:01 PM
Uh-oh. I was thinking of the sacred one. Maybe that's 4. ...or 5. I forget!

4.

I think my favourites might be 5, 11 and possibly 9 but it's been a while. The 4 Symphonic Metamorphoses are also now in my possession, on the listening pile (although currently buried beneath a fair amount of Nono, Taneyev and Zorn).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 29, 2014, 04:31:53 PM
Sinfonia Sacra is No.4. The choral one. Probably my least favourite, personally.

+1 Not one of my favorites either.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 29, 2014, 04:47:27 PM
Sinfonia Sacra is No.4. The choral one. Probably my least favourite, personally.

Wait I don't remember voices either. Let me check my listening log.

Aha! It was No. 5 after all! So my favorite Holmboe so far is No. 5, the Metamorphoses, and the Viola Concerto. Much more exploring to do.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 29, 2014, 05:05:21 PM
Wait I don't remember voices either. Let me check my listening log.

Aha! It was No. 5 after all! So my favorite Holmboe so far is No. 5, the Metamorphoses, and the Viola Concerto. Much more exploring to do.

Aha. Right. You probably thought 'sacred' because No.4 and No.5 are on the same disc.

I do like No.5 a lot, and it was my entry point. I actually think No.5 and No.3 are amongst the most similar 'pairs' in the series, so ironically you may well agree with Mirror Image about No.3!  I think they're two of the most immediately approachable of the symphonies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 30, 2014, 07:52:56 AM
Well, I just did one of those slightly nutty list-making things I do, and with some help from random.org I created a shuffled list of the 25 'symphonic' works which I'm now going to listen to over the next month or so.

I didn't take the first list it gave me. I avoided clumps of chamber symphonies or sinfonias, and when it gave me a list with Symphony no.6 at the very end I just thought noooooooooooo and tried again.  :D

EDIT: I can post thoughts as I did with the quartets if people wish... but that risks me dominating the thread rather. As if I don't have that tendency already. Or, I could post the list if anyone is mad enough to join me! Hehe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 30, 2014, 08:02:40 AM
No poster dominates any thread and the reason why is if you have something you want to say that helps others to understand the composer better, then you could very well spawn not only conversation between new listeners but experienced ones as well. 8) So post away!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 30, 2014, 08:06:59 AM
EDIT: I can post thoughts as I did with the quartets if people wish... but that risks me dominating the thread rather. As if I don't have that tendency already. Or, I could post the list if anyone is mad enough to join me! Hehe.

Please be at liberty, I find your posts of interest.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 31, 2014, 07:06:23 AM
Chamber Symphony No.2, 'Elegy' op.100 (1968)



Hmm. Well, interesting that it was a 'chamber' symphony that got listed first. I've checked, the orchestra is indeed smaller for the 'chamber' works compared to the normal symphonies, but listening to this recording you'd hardly notice. One of the striking things about this particular work is how big it sounds. In terms of length/scale, this one is also just as big as any of the regular symphonies (and bigger than quite a few of them).

Another thing that is fairly striking about this particular work is the sense of colour, from the vibraphone at the very beginning onwards. I've mentioned before that to me 1960s Holmboe is often more 'difficult' than the works of other periods. This work strikes me as beginning to shift away from that, having more of the translucent texture that I associate with '1970s' Holmboe.

The opening climbing motif in the low strings pervades the first movement, and then it turns up at various points in the other movements, most clearly in the fourth. The movements certainly have a uniformity of mood, which is fairly somber and a bit unsettled/certain (not surprising given the subtitle).

In terms of being unsettled, one of the notable things is that halfway through the fourth movement, there's a false ending. It sounds for all the world like the work is finished, with a big climax, a couple of strong unisons and a long silent pause. But then the music starts up again, more hesitantly. The actual end is a lot weaker and doesn't feel resolved. In fact I'd argue each movement sounds less resolved than the one before.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 31, 2014, 04:03:22 PM
Symphony No.12 op.175 (1988)



Wow.

I've just had one of those glorious moments where a Holmboe work has truly 'clicked' for me. It feels like the scales have fallen from my eyes.

I know I've had some trouble with symphony no.12 in the past. I seem to remember I appreciated it more the last time I tried it, but that was over 2 years ago. Today, though, it just WORKED the very first time. And a passage in the first movement that I'd never understood and always felt was a bit 'unsymphonic' completely made sense.

Because I've finally realised something that the liner notes of the symphonies box set don't mention: this is a dance. In the same way as symphony no.3 nearly 50 years earlier, this is full of dance rhythms. More than that, it's dance from around the 16th century. You could easily make this the soundtrack to The Tudors or some other royal historical fiction, with courtly dances and jousting tournaments. For the louder moments there's blaring trumpets, and for the quieter 'dances' there's wonderful use of harp (almost unique, the only other symphony that has harp is Sinfonia in memoriam).

I can't believe I haven't picked this up before, but I guess I wasn't expecting it. None of the other later symphonies feel like this. Just brilliant, vital music from a 79-year-old composer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 31, 2014, 06:02:22 PM
Interesting.  I too have worried about posting too much in certain threads (at times it appears as if I am the only one posting there).  But I usually post nothing more than a link to the music, I prefer to put the music out there to speak for itself, thinking that someone might listen and comment, to which I would probably respond, and a discussion might develop.  But I've noticed that people rarely comment on the music, so all that is left is a series of posts with a links to music.

I consider myself a complete novice when it comes to classical since I've only been listening for 5 years or so. Anytime I can read a well-considered post from someone who actually knows how to get their points across and, in the process, give others an idea about the music, then I'm all for it. I, of course, don't claim I know anything about this music and listen to what my mind and heart enjoy without any explanation as to why. I hope to be able to get the whys, but, again, I just don't have enough experience or really even the know-how to explain why I enjoy something without coming across as a total moron, which, in most cases, I end up doing anyway. All of this said, it's best I leave these kinds of things for people who do have an idea of what their talking about. :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 01, 2014, 09:31:49 PM
Symphony No.13 op.192 (1993-94)



Three Allegros in a row, although none of them stay at a constant tempo. What I tend to like a lot about Holmboe is his sense of line and of flow. I think that is why I personally struggle with the opening of this work, which is quite choppy and even a bit aggressive. However, I like it more and more as it goes on.  The solo cello passage at the end of the first movement is a moment of magic. In later movements the mood continues to lighten - the third movement finally gives a touch of major keys, and it has several lovely spots where the music slows down and expands.

Holmboe's sense of motivic organisation is certainly apparent. Very large chunks of the symphony are built on only a couple of figures. While I wouldn't rate this as one of my favourite works, it's still interesting music that's worth hearing.

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on February 02, 2014, 11:37:38 AM
Symphony No.12 op.175 (1988)
I can't believe I haven't picked this up before, but I guess I wasn't expecting it. None of the other later symphonies feel like this. Just brilliant, vital music from a 79-year-old composer.

Am enjoying it to the full at this moment, as I played this CD - coupling symphonies Nos. 11, 12 and 13 - a couple of times over the pas few days.   By sheer coincidence. :-) I hear little Tudor in it, but all of your other qualifications - dances, vitality, brilliance - certainly apply.  :)
BTW, I saw the score of his Symphony No. 13 on the piano in early August 1995, when I visited the elderly couple in their country home in the North of Sealland for an interview, a year before the composer's death. For Holmboe, it was directly related to his illness and I'm certain he knew it was to be his last symphony.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 02, 2014, 08:03:05 PM
Symphony No.6 op.43 (1947)



Sigh. That wonderful opening of the Adagio. How can anyone make something so magical out of just a couple of notes?

Although really it's not just those couple of notes, it's knowing how it develops after that. The opening of the first movement is a perfect demonstration of Holmboe's ability to logically build a structure out of his opening idea. I love the feeling of open space and large scale here. At 18 minutes, it's longer than some of the works I'm going to listen to in this sequence.

The second movement makes a great contrast, yet at the same time feels entirely like it's made from the same stuff. Lots of action and drama. I think one of the most memorable things is the way the music grumbles to a halt halfway through the movement, and then goes back to the start. It's like all the energy drained out and then there's a jolt of electricity.

Overall it's a very balanced and satisfying work, and I've always found it one of the more readily memorable symphonies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 02, 2014, 08:05:54 PM
BTW, I saw the score of his Symphony No. 13 on the piano in early August 1995, when I visited the elderly couple in their country home in the North of Sealland for an interview, a year before the composer's death. For Holmboe, it was directly related to his illness and I'm certain he knew it was to be his last symphony.

There's a rather fascinating claim in the liner notes for the 2 CDs of the preludes for sinfonietta, that Holmboe considered subtitling the 13th symphony Sarajevo. I've not seen that claim anywhere else.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 04, 2014, 07:27:41 PM
Symphony No.3, 'Sinfonia Rustica' op.25 (1941)



Well, Mirror Image described it as 'earthy', and he's absolutely right. The folksong feel of this is very apparent, and it's one of Holmboe's most readily approachable compositions as a result. In some ways it's very simple compared to the other symphonies, but it's still expertly constructed with just the right balance of repetition and variation. I love the steady, tick-tocking rhythm of the first movement, and the finale just skips along. That second movement set of variations is pretty large scale, but it still has the melodies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 04, 2014, 07:35:36 PM
Symphony No.3, 'Sinfonia Rustica' op.25 (1941)



Well, Mirror Image described it as 'earthy', and he's absolutely right. The folksong feel of this is very apparent, and it's one of Holmboe's most readily approachable compositions as a result. In some ways it's very simple compared to the other symphonies, but it's still expertly constructed with just the right balance of repetition and variation. I love the steady, tick-tocking rhythm of the first movement, and the finale just skips along. That second movement set of variations is pretty large scale, but it still has the melodies.

Absolutely agree. I really love this symphony.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: cjvinthechair on February 05, 2014, 11:03:39 AM
I consider myself a complete novice when it comes to classical since I've only been listening for 5 years or so. Anytime I can read a well-considered post from someone who actually knows how to get their points across and, in the process, give others an idea about the music, then I'm all for it. I, of course, don't claim I know anything about this music and listen to what my mind and heart enjoy without any explanation as to why. I hope to be able to get the whys, but, again, I just don't have enough experience or really even the know-how to explain why I enjoy something without coming across as a total moron, which, in most cases, I end up doing anyway. All of this said, it's best I leave these kinds of things for people who do have an idea of what their talking about. :)

With you, as usual, Mr. MI. Know what I like, but why ?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 05, 2014, 06:12:09 PM
With you, as usual, Mr. MI. Know what I like, but why ?

Well I just can't come say why I enjoy something so much. I mean, you know, without sounding like a total ignoramus. :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: cjvinthechair on February 06, 2014, 03:16:18 AM
Well I just can't come say why I enjoy something so much. I mean, you know, without sounding like a total ignoramus. :)

Fine - we'll be 'ignorami' together, then !
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 12, 2014, 06:08:32 AM
Symphony No.10, op.105 (1970-71, revised 1972)



You know something? I think I rate this as one of the most satisfying symphonies of the lot these days. It's got a tremendous grandeur in its expression. The first movement has a very long and expansive slow introduction, full of drama, and then the Allegro just gets more dramatic. There are these upward rushes towards the end that I find exciting and satisfying.

The second movement begins with an emphatic descending string tune which is joined by a wonderful brass chorale. The combination is starkly beautiful. Actually I'd say the use of brass is a highlight of the whole symphony. And then, in one of those typically Holmboe moments, the biggest change of mood doesn't occur between movements but within one. There's a greater peace in the latter stages of the second movement, which carries on into the beginning of the finale. Mind you, while the finale does have a lot of symphony's most delicately scored moments, it also has some thumping climaxes.

Very, very satisfying to my ears.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 12, 2014, 06:47:14 AM
Today, I am going to start revisiting the string quartets . . . your survey has got me hankering to do the same with the symphonies . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on February 12, 2014, 02:34:33 PM
There's a rather fascinating claim in the liner notes for the 2 CDs of the preludes for sinfonietta, that Holmboe considered subtitling the 13th symphony Sarajevo. I've not seen that claim anywhere else.

I know I recorded my 'interview'  (long afternoon talk) with Holmboe, but I never listened to the tape of it since 1995. Perhaps he mentioned some more details about his most recent symphony than I remember by now. I'll keep you informed if there's something more to add to this, because the 'Sarajevo' connection is an intriguing one and I think I remember he was very much concerned about the war in Bosnia in those years indeed. Mrs. Holmboe, Meta May Graf, was from Romania after all and both had been living there in the 1930s. BTW, I really enjoy your listening review of a series of the symphonies and they inspired me to play them again. Please, continue!  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 12, 2014, 07:36:55 PM
<amusing story>

Before Xmas I was in a shopping centre in Canberra./ I was looking for an iPod Dock for my son for Xmas. I went into a shop and saw a model that looked good, but I wanted to try it out. As usual I was listneing to my iPod via headphones and had got up the last five minutes of Holmboe's 2nd Symphony.

When the assistant said I could try the dock out I plugged in my iPod and last five minutes of the symphony duly played. The assistant was astonished, she hadn't expected that. When it finished I said "It won a prize for the best Danish Symphony of 1938".

Then I bought the dock.

</amusing story>
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 13, 2014, 02:21:45 AM
Epilog, Op.80 (1961-62)



The first of the 'symphonic metamorphoses' to turn up in my list...

I am still coming to terms with this piece. I know quite a few people like it a great deal, but initially I reacted against it. I think that's because in some key respects it isn't typical Holmboe. Most of all it doesn't develop in what I would regard as typical Holmboe fashion. In fact, it's almost about failure to develop - the music seems for a long time to be hopelessly pinned to that opening tune, and the crises get louder and more and more aggressive until, about 9.5 minutes in, the music collapses into an enormous series of timpani rolls.

And there's still nearly 15 minutes to go. I think this must be one of Holmboe's longest single movements. It's also one of his darkest and, frankly, noisiest pieces. Not entirely surprising as it's from that 1960s period where he seemed to be pushing the boundaries of his music.

Which makes the final resolution all the more surprising, and to me a little disconcerting. Effective and memorable, yes, but I didn't hear it coming. Which is probably the point!

This isn't a personal favourite at this stage (this was the last of the 'symphonic' discs that I purchased, so it's relatively new for me), but I can certainly understand why people are impressed by this piece.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 13, 2014, 03:47:05 AM
Symphony No.5, op.35 (1944)



The first Holmboe symphony that I ever listened to, because the Penguin Guide said it was a good entry point. They're kind of right. As I've said recently, I think this has quite a few similarities to the 3rd symphony and is very approachable.

It's also obsessively rhythmic. I've probably said this before as well, but the first movement somehow makes me think of the first movement of Beethoven's 5th. These days I sometimes think that Holmboe carries on the obsession for just a tiny bit too long, but... the opening and closing passages are both absolutely wonderful and in truth I'm pretty happy with everything that happens in between as well. It just depends on my mood I think.

The second movement is fairly serious and sombre as well, with some passages that take on the form of a funeral march, with drum rhythms that echo the first movement... and perhaps the third movement of Beethoven's 5th? And then the finale is one of the more playful of Holmboe's movements. It's still got the obsession with rhythm, but the rhythm is often comically jerky and syncopated. When the piccolo starts skipping along you know this is supposed to be light-hearted.

It's probably not the deepest of Holmboe's symphonies, but it's a pretty good listen. I'm sure it would be popular on concert programs!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 13, 2014, 08:35:30 AM
Symphony No.1, op.4/M.85 (1935)

In the first place, this strikes me as a first symphony every bit as strong as Nielsen's, Shostakovich's or (technically a special case) Prokofiev's.  The modal, rhythmic profile of this one makes me think (in an entirely flattering way) of The Lion in Winter.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 15, 2014, 12:26:05 AM
Epitaph, op.68 (1956)



Again, as this disc is a relatively recent purchase I don't know this piece so well yet, but I'm finding I like it a great deal. It seems a very varied and colourful score. It certainly has some big dramatic moments but I wouldn't say this was a dark work. To me it feels like it is constantly flowing and changing, so living up to the 'metamorphosis' name.

If I'm interpreting the CD liner notes correctly, it appears to be officially in a single movement, but the points where it has been split into tracks certainly feel apt as there are clear pauses (especially between the first and second sections). It could be somewhat like Symphony No.7, in being one movement but quite sectional.

In any case I find it to be a very engaging and interesting piece of music, well up to Holmboe's usual standards. In fact I'd be inclined to point to this as a pretty good example of his 'typical' mature style.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 16, 2014, 03:09:11 AM
Chamber Symphony No.1, op.53 (1951)



Well, the first chamber symphony does manage to sound smaller in size and scale at least some of the time, unlike the second one!

To me this music is... I was going to say simpler, but that sounds like it could be a bad thing. It's clearer and cleaner than a lot of works, with more readily discernible lines. There's still a lot going on at times, for example the second movement is a whirling scherzo. But on the whole it feels like a work that's easier to grasp than some.

One of the things that strikes me is the use of pedal points. Most prominently in the first movement, but there are many spots where there are long, static bass lines over which the other parts move.

A very nice, enjoyable work. Not as grand as many others on this listening survey, but grand isn't the only effect to aim for!

Also... how good are these recent Da Capo recordings!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 17, 2014, 04:16:13 AM
Symphony No.4, 'Sinfonia Sacra', op.29 (1941, revised 1945)



Well, a small miracle happened tonight. I put the symphony on in my headphones (as I've been doing with all of this listening project), and made a point of doing things while listening (which actually tends to work for me better than just sitting/standing and listening)...

...and I wasn't thoroughly bored by the first movement.

Which I was yesterday. I still wouldn't say "wow, you've got to listen to this", but I stayed engaged.

For me, this remains a rare instance of Holmboe not hitting the mark. I just saw an Amazon review that says this symphony is bombastic, and I think that's a good description, certainly of that first movement. The 4th symphony is audibly cut from similar cloth to the 3rd and 5th, with the same sense of rhythmic pulse, but in the 4th there isn't enough variation in the details and it tends to push into being unattractive. I think that's partly because the 4th is wanting to say "look how serious I am". Look, I'm wartime and filled with angst. Or something. It tends to be the louder and angstier passages that are the least successful. I also don't know if some it is caused by wishing to fit the vocal parts in.

I'm making it sound horrible. It's not, and it gets better as it goes. The 4th movement, where the mood of the words turns to peace, is good, and the 5th movement 'Gloria' is bright and catchy and extremely approachable.

But on the whole I think this is one of Holmboe's lesser works. Oh well. Not even my favourite composers are perfect.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 19, 2014, 04:18:47 AM
Symphony No.9, op.95 (1967-68, revised 1969)



It's the semi-officially 'difficult' symphony.

This is eerie, unsettling and richly complex music. It probably isn't all that strange for those of you with more avant-garde tastes, but it's another one of those 1960s works where Holmboe is pushing his language about as far as he ever pushed it. And the results have a mesmerising quality.

There's a translucency to the first movement, and a weirdly pulsing quality. The first intermezzo is just ghostly. The music virtually stops, which makes the opening of the following Allegro con fuoco all the more effective as a release of pent-up energy. And every now and then those strange pulses come back. The second intermezzo is warmer and more lyrical, but still not entirely settled. It's also delicately scored with string solos.

The final Andante austero starts with another one of Holmboe's excellent pieces of brass-writing. It sounds like we're going to get on firmer ground here, but there are deviations along the way. Pulsing figures reappear again, but they're steadier and more insistent. Eventually the symphony does end on firm ground and in emphatic fashion.

This is wonderful stuff. I'd strongly urge people to explore this one. Yes, it's probably one of Holmboe's less approachable works but I think it also has rich rewards. In fact I'm beginning to think that the 1960s delivered not only some of his most complex works but also his most satisfying. Pieces like this, the 7th string quartet and the 3rd violin sonata have all made me eager to hear from this period of Holmboe's work because I think they're some of his very best.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 21, 2014, 04:47:32 AM
Symphony No.8, 'Sinfonia Boreale' op.56 (1951-52)



Well, here we have what seems to be Holmboe's most frequently praised and most popular symphony. With good reason. I think it's probably the most impressive of the earlier symphonies. And yes, it's no.8 out of the 13 numbered works, but in terms of Holmboe's composing career this IS still the first half. And it's the longest, most imposing work in the series. A full 4-movement symphony.

The funny thing is, hearing it so soon after nos.9 and 10 this time around, it didn't impress me as much as those two works. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but I think also that those symphonies are subtler, more complex works. The appeal of symphony no.8 tends to be somewhat more direct.

Coming back to it again today, though, it clicked again in full. What's impressive about this symphony is it's sense of dark power, and energy. The first movement is marked Allegro molto intensivo, and has this wonderful, churning 7/8 bass ostinato figure that feels like it's conjuring something out of the earth. And similar things happen in all the movements. The second movement starts with a dramatic figure that reminds me of something like The Firebird, and then also has a couple of passages of a rising ostinato that is finished off with a bang.

Then there's the Andante con moto 3rd movement, which almost immediately has yet another form of threatening bass in the strings, lurking with intent. The movement's climax is very powerful, with the low strings taking over. The finale is Allegro passionato, again an indication of the power of the music. There is some repose between the climaxes, but the end is grand and impressive.

When I first heard this symphony, I actually felt the urge to stand up and applaud at the end. In my living room. I don't remember that happening with any other work.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 21, 2014, 12:59:33 PM
I think No.8 is a very impressive work (though I wouldn't say more impressive than other Holmboe Symphonies). And Orfeo has identified what I think is the thing makes it stand out, it is a four-movement symphony where all the movements are fast (or fastish), which is quite unusual. (I know Holmboe doesn't often do 'slow movements', but he usually slows down in one or more).

I've been thinking about Holmboe and I know I'll have to go back and listen to all his symphonies again soon (after I've finished my complete Haydn symphonies project!). With other composers I have a pretty good mental picture of their oeuvre in my mind, but I realise that with H I barely 'know' the works.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 22, 2014, 05:32:25 AM
Sinfonia III, op.73c (1958-59)



It's taken until now for one of the Sinfonias for strings to turn up in my list. My memory could be playing tricks on me, but my recollection is that the 3rd Sinfonia is the only one that has a reasonably fast basic pulse.* Having said that, the couple of times that the tempo slows down are quite magical - the first one, almost halfway through, has a violin solo that is a lovely change of texture.

The opening dotted figure makes its presence felt quite frequently in various forms, in typical Holmboe fashion. Soon after there is a triplet rhythm which, while initially more subtle, also crops up quite a bit, sometimes competing with the dotted rhythm, sometimes joining with it in a longer phrase.

Throughout the work, Holmboe's contrapuntal lines can be heard clearly. To me this is excellent, satisfying music, never dull. I don't miss the colours of other instruments one bit during this piece.

*Interestingly, the Da Capo recording appears to be a bit faster than the BIS one that I have. It's rare to have an opportunity to compare!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2014, 04:25:18 AM
Symphony No.11, op.144 (1980-81)



An interesting one, this, because in terms of chronology it's quite isolated. When the only Holmboe works I knew were the symphonies, I didn't really notice this particular gap, but this is a symphonic work from a period where Holmboe was mostly writing concertante works.

It's not a particularly dramatic or showy symphony. Often it's quite delicately scored, like many of Holmboe's 1970s works.  I think it still has some common DNA with the 9th and 10th symphonies despite the gap of about a decade. Each of the 3 movements has internal changes of tempo, which is a feature it shares with the 13th symphony.

The very opening idea certainly sounds like the kind of musical cell that Holmboe would take and develop, but in fact it doesn't dominate proceedings. The following flute solo points the way forward - high, floating woodwind solos occur at many points, and the flute often takes the lead. But after that is the idea that really makes its presence felt in this symphony: an uneven, broken pulsing that to me is a little bit of magic. It gives much of the first movement a strange stately quality, even when the pace picks up a little bit. But then, as the pace accelerates again, the pulsing is there to drive the music forward and impose itself.

The second movement starts with a slightly different idea with the same basic characteristic - uneven rhythms with sudden pauses. The strings take some ideas and play with them, before providing some static support for the woodwinds, and then the brass crash in and try to firm things up. Without much success... after they leave again the strings embark on a fairly nebulous scherzo. But when the brass come back a second time, they bring the pulsing rhythm with them and the movement ends with a nice strong fanfare.

And then, the finale totally fails to feel like a finale after that. It starts delicately and subdued, with the pulsing again and a lovely touch of vibraphone. This is dreamy music. Even when the middle section of the movement speeds up and firms up a little, it never feels like we're going to get a grand finish. In the closing section, the pulsing has finally been banished, the opening flute comes back again and everything ends in quiet peace.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2014, 04:10:53 AM
Sinfonia II, op.73b (1957)



This is very pure, un-showy music. The different lines spend most of their time moving slowly, steadily, step-wise. The fastest-moving line often uses that particular kind of movement where the second quaver of one pair is the same note as the first quaver of the next pair (there's probably a specific name for that, but I can't think of it). Only twice in the music's 20-minute span does the pace increase.

That might sound a bit dull, but personally I think Holmboe is able to demonstrate his great skill in shaping the music, through changes of texture and register, and to some extent volume and tempo. Because this is lacking those 'wow' moments, you can concentrate on just how good he is at creating a musical argument and a sense of structure as the lines flow past each other. It certainly feels to me like this is music with shape and movement. It doesn't drag.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 28, 2014, 02:31:47 AM
Symphony No.2, op.15 (1938-39)



The prize-winning symphony. Arguably the key moment in Holmboe's career. And it nearly didn't happen... as the notes to the BIS recording (the only recording?) explain, it was eliminated in the first round of the competition, only for one juror to reinstate it. It won first prize.

This is big, impressive-sounding, colourful and dynamic music. This is Holmboe at the very beginning of handling a full-scale orchestra in his adult career - just before this in the catalogue are an incomplete 'concerto-symphony' for violin and orchestra (op.13b), and a violin concerto that apparently was never performed in Holmboe's lifetime (op.14). Before that, you have to go back a decade to the Concerto for Orchestra (believed to have been performed for the first time when it was recently recorded) to get a composition on this scale.  So just imagine the effect the success of this symphony had on the composer!

What I want to know is... why didn't it initially impress the other jurors? Was Holmboe's style just too subtle for them to grasp? Because so many Holmboe characteristics are already here. I say 'already' because this is early in the scheme of things, even though he was 29 years old.

There's the linkage between movements: instead of the 1st movement ending triumphantly, it suddenly quietens and flows more directly into the 2nd movement. 'Flow' being the operative word for so much of the music. It's interesting, having listened to the symphonies out of order, that Symphony No.2 is not as obsessive with its rhythms and motifs as symphonies 3 to 5. Instead there's a kind of freely evolving variation that arguably has more in common with the 'metamorphosis' technique of a later period.

This doesn't at all sound like a composer still finding his feet. It sounds like a young composer who's got a very good idea of what he wants to say musically and the skills to orchestrate it.

(PS Amazon has at least 3 different pages for this disc, I just picked the one with a good picture!)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 03, 2014, 04:26:05 AM
Sinfonia in Memoriam, op.65 (1954-55)



The 9th symphony that got un-symphonied... it's not entirely clear why. I wouldn't personally list this as one of Holmboe's top masterpieces, but it's still a strong work that is worthy of the composer and I think the match of many in the cycle. Perhaps he simply decided that it's association with a particular, memorial occasion was more important?

It's in 3 movements, with the fastest movement in the centre, which already gives you some idea of the nature of the work. Certainly the 1st movement is quite bleak much of the time, not quite Shostakovich-bleak but heading for that sort of mood. It starts with some unfriendly brass blares, which return at key points to add some power, but the movement never really reaches a big climax and it dies away uneasily.

The opening of the 2nd movement is all agitated strings with sharp percussive accents. In periods when the music calms down a little, there's arguably a slightly dance-like quality, but any repose tends to get interrupted. It's a highly dynamic movement that contrasts with the more static feel of the 1st. And it ends with a triumphant-sounding bang.

But then the opening of the 3rd immediately sounds unsettled again. The violins find a note and refuse to let go of it for a while as the lower strings engage in something like a recitative. When the violins finally start participating in the music, we reach what I think is my favourite part of the symphony, because there is a touch of warmth and passion that is so effective because it is different from what we've heard before in the work. This isn't happy music by any means, but it feels something in a way that the 1st movement didn't. And the close has a real grandeur.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 03, 2014, 12:06:07 PM
I guess it mirrors the Danish experience of Nazi occupation, grim, but not as horrific as elsewhere in Europe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 07, 2014, 11:38:36 AM
Also... how good are these recent Da Capo recordings!

This one was recorded at a whopping 352.8kHz sample rate (DXD).  I have the 192 kHz download.  I haven't decided yet whether it really sounds better than plain old 16-bit/44.1 kHz.  Maybe slighly warmer?

That said, it's a resonant recording in a large sounding space, and I tend to prefer a more close up recording.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 07, 2014, 12:58:01 PM
Holmboe's oeuvre is so big that I have a hard time appreciating it as a whole: by the time I reach the end of a multi-month listening project to hear it all, I've forgotten about the pieces I listened to at the beginning. This difficulty to remember what is what is aided by the fact that Holmboe maintained a fairly unchanging style over his entire career. Of course there are some subtle evolutions in his sound, but his music doesn't fall neatly into very distinct stylistic periods like e.g. Per Nørgård's or Wolfgang Rihm's. Everything tends to be jumbled in my memory into one big neo-classical mass.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 08, 2014, 06:58:00 AM
Takes a degree of familiarity, and then one's ears adjust (so to speak).  Consider the Haydn symphonies!  In cases like these where there is a lot of music (which is a great problem to have, the music being excellent), it takes a few circuits of the course.

In that way, it is just like applied music:  there is no substitute for practice time, and patience  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 11, 2014, 06:57:47 AM
Chamber Symphony No.3, 'Frieze', op.103a (1969-70)



An interesting one, this, with six relatively short movements (none over 6 minutes). It seems to be an exercise in different colourings. The first movement starts off sounding like it's going to be another string sinfonia, weaving lines of music together, before the brass finally come in. Then the second movement is quite different - fast, choppy, and with a xylophone and vibraphone making their presence felt very strongly. Then immediately in the third movement, the strings and brass re-assert their dominance. Towards the end of the movement, I'm fairly sure the strings return to their theme from the very beginning of the work.

The fourth movement, Grave con metamorfosi, uses all the different instrument groups over time, but the vibraphone is distinctive and often prominent. The brief 5th movement intermezzo takes some of the stranger sounds of the 4th - sliding strings, woodwind solos, the xylophone - and turns them into one of the most atmospheric bits of the work. The finale is fast, dynamic, almost a scherzo. The drums are prominent. After a pause, the movement ends emphatically but with the reverberations of the vibraphone continuing on ever so briefly.

To some extent the effect is, as the CD notes say, of a series of character pieces. A 'frieze' of different little works. It doesn't have the grandeur of some of the big symphonies, but it's a neat package of Holmboe's orchestral skills.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 11, 2014, 07:06:10 AM
Holmboe's oeuvre is so big that I have a hard time appreciating it as a whole: by the time I reach the end of a multi-month listening project to hear it all, I've forgotten about the pieces I listened to at the beginning. This difficulty to remember what is what is aided by the fact that Holmboe maintained a fairly unchanging style over his entire career. Of course there are some subtle evolutions in his sound, but his music doesn't fall neatly into very distinct stylistic periods like e.g. Per Nørgård's or Wolfgang Rihm's. Everything tends to be jumbled in my memory into one big neo-classical mass.

I suspect that, as much as anything else, the discipline of writing notes about these works is meant to help me concentrate on what I'm listening to and get a better grip of it. Certainly that was happening with the string quartets.

I'm sufficiently interested in Holmboe's music to really want to know it a lot better than I previously felt I did.  And I think the effort is paying off for me - I've no idea, really, whether it's paying off much for any of the people reading my notes!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 13, 2014, 06:34:45 AM
Sinfonia I, op.73a (1957)



Gosh, it's interesting coming back to the string sinfonias and really listening to them as separate works (even though they all ended up relatively close in my shuffled list).

So this is the 'original' one, although written only a short time before the 2nd and 3rd sinfonias it was for a different group. It's not that long a work - about 11 or 12 minutes on both recordings (which makes it the shortest on the BIS recording, but not on the Da Capo one). What struck me about it this time around was its sense of colour, even though the only forces are strings.  There's often a beautiful warmth to the harmonies when the textures become thicker and richer.

Whereas the 2nd sinfonia is mostly a large, slow arch, and the 3rd sinfonia is mostly Allegro con brio, this 1st sinfonia changes pace a number of times. The first third of it is slow, and a little mysterious, but after that there are several changes of gear within what is marked as an Allegro leggiero. The music slows down at the end, but without a sense of definite conclusion. I'm not listening to the whole combined 'Kairos' this time around, but I imagine the lack of closure works quite well in the context where this sinfonia is the first main 'movement' of the larger work.  On its own, it still makes for an engaging piece that is on a manageable scale for someone who wants to give Holmboe a try.  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: HIPster on March 13, 2014, 03:27:36 PM
I suspect that, as much as anything else, the discipline of writing notes about these works is meant to help me concentrate on what I'm listening to and get a better grip of it. Certainly that was happening with the string quartets.

I'm sufficiently interested in Holmboe's music to really want to know it a lot better than I previously felt I did.  And I think the effort is paying off for me - I've no idea, really, whether it's paying off much for any of the people reading my notes!

It is for me, orfeo!  Thank you for your posts here.  This is a very rich and rewarding thread and your recent posts have me purchasing and wish listing many recordings here!

Thanks!

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 17, 2014, 04:12:57 AM
Dear me, I'm getting slightly remiss in my 'duties' lately...

Symphony No.7, op.50 (1950)



This symphony is officially in one movement, although it does fall into a number of distinct sections. There are an Allegro con fuoco, an Adagio, a Presto and an Andante coda, separated by 3 shorter 'Intermedios' that share a common theme (and strong hints of that theme appear in some of the larger sections). The single movement doesn't actually feel very long as a result, and this is one of the shorter symphonies.

Stylistically this symphony definitely slots in nicely to the overall cycle. There's a passage in the first section that reminds me of the 5th symphony, and elsewhere I hear slight parallels to the 6th and foreshadowings of the 8th.

Personally, I find the second half of the symphony a fraction weaker than the first half. I very much like the lean, athletic Allegro con fuoco, and the first 'Intermedio' has a nice change of colour. The transitions in and out of the Adagio are seamless. After that, the Presto takes off as a soft scurry, but it's the louder sections that feel to me a tiny bit bombastic, at least in this performance. Others may differ. One interesting effect of this, though, is that the symphony practically ends here. After the rousing conclusion of the Presto, there is a complete pause before the music starts again, with the conclusion repeated again more softly weaving into the final 'Intermedio'. The coda begins with the brass getting a bit rowdy again, but after that most of the last several minutes are actually quite subdued. Not for the first time there's a recall of the very beginning of the symphony, but its attempt at drama is soothed away.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 17, 2014, 05:34:50 AM
Sinfonia IV, op.73d (1962)



Whoa. I knew this was coming, but still, after not having heard it for a while...

This might share an opus number with the other string sinfonias, and even be combined with them into a single work, but this is a completely different sound world. In its form as a separate piece it's actually a little hard to imagine it could be integrated with the other three. And arguably it's not integrated, as in 'Kairos' it's used to punctuate and frame the others, separating them from each other by being different.

And of critical importance to that difference is the date of composition. We've shifted from the late 1950s into the early 1960s, and while the gap is only a few years we have, as far as I can tell, crossed into a unique period for Holmboe's compositions. The first half of the 1960s is when his music pushes into something more avant garde. We're in the world now of things like the 6th and 8th string quartets, and (from what I've heard of it) the Requiem for Nietzsche.

This is certainly a fair way away from 'normal' Holmboe. Beautiful flowing counterpoint is rare. This music is filled with quivering trills, slides, semitonal clusters, strange pizzicatos and odd bowing techniques. The textures are also thinner than is generally the case in the other sinfonias, with a considerable number of solos. Well worth a listen, but if you know Holmboe from, say, the first 8 symphonies, you might be rather surprised by how this sounds.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 21, 2014, 04:51:27 AM
Monolith, op.76 (1960)



This is the shortest piece in my list of 'symphonic' works, but it's taken a number of listens to get a handle on it. It packs a lot of colour and action into less than 9 minutes. Being 'colourful' seems to be a bit of a characteristic of the metamorphoses on this disc - which might be one reason a number of GMG'ers seem to quite like them.

Within what is on some level a ternary fast-slow-fast structure, Holmboe is engaging in his typical 'metamorphosing' of a small number of recurring motifs. In the early stages there's a slightly jagged dotted figure, a rather 'blocky' one, and an unstable triplet figuration.  It's the triplets that take over much of the first fast section before the other figures return at the end. The slower section seems to be characterised by 'dots' of different musical instruments for a while, before the triplets start making their presence felt again. It's the 'blocky' figure that heralds the return to a faster tempo and gradually increasing intensity. By the end the drums are hammering away, but the end is quite a surprise. There's no sense of resolution, just a sudden end.

Not a large-scale masterpiece, but a good bit of bite-sized Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on March 21, 2014, 05:01:02 AM
Very late thanks for all the Holmboe listening notes, orfeo.  I've revisited a few pieces already after reading, and they are new creatures for it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 21, 2014, 05:28:26 AM
Symphony No.1, op.4 (1935)



What a cracker of a little piece the 1st symphony is!

I say that for a number of reasons. One reason for saying 'little' is that this is in fact a 'chamber symphony' without that name.  In terms of the instrumental scoring, it uses an orchestra that is far closer to the ones used in 3 later chamber symphonies than to the orchestras used for the other 12 'regular' symphonies. I suppose at this stage, with his first mature effort, he didn't know he would want to distinguish later on between the two types.

As for saying it's a cracker, well... the first movement is a delight from the very beginning. It's a mixture of neoclassical and folk influences, with some similarity to the 3rd symphony but in some ways more interesting because it seems to be using fragments of a number of different 'folk tunes' rather than just obsessing over one.  The changes of pace in some sections, as one fragment gets interrupted by another, are masterfully handled by conductor Owain Arwel Hughes.

The longer second movement is in a similar vein, but it starts off in a subdued fashion and tends to hold onto each of its musical ideas for longer. There's more of a steady tick-tocking pace, until the music seems to get a little 'stuck'. By the time it transitions from Andante to Allegro energico (according to the BIS track divisions, although there's not much of an audible tempo change at that moment), the rhythm becomes more 'broken' and syncopated.

The whole thing is, to my ears, thoroughly convincing and constructed with great skill. It's a great introduction to Holmboe's 'early' style (when he was in his mid-20s, but taking into account that 1935 was the very year that he first wrote works that he decided were worthy of opus numbers). It already has 'Holmboesque' traits such as the sense of line and counterpoint, and his enjoyment of percussion. He might have gone on to write more sophisticated or complex music, but this is a fine piece in its own right.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 21, 2014, 05:33:44 AM
Very late thanks for all the Holmboe listening notes, orfeo.  I've revisited a few pieces already after reading, and they are new creatures for it.

Thanks! A labour of love on my part. Only one more entry to go now...

...and then I'll have to figure out what else I can do.  ;) Seriously, I've considered whether at some point I'd comment on the concertos, but first I have to purchase them all, and second they're not all recorded. Out of 24 concertos with opus numbers, 3 of them haven't made an appearance yet as far as I know. Here's hoping.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: HIPster on March 22, 2014, 12:09:26 PM
Symphony No.1, op.4 (1935)



What a cracker of a little piece the 1st symphony is!

I say that for a number of reasons. One reason for saying 'little' is that this is in fact a 'chamber symphony' without that name.  In terms of the instrumental scoring, it uses an orchestra that is far closer to the ones used in 3 later chamber symphonies than to the orchestras used for the other 12 'regular' symphonies. I suppose at this stage, with his first mature effort, he didn't know he would want to distinguish later on between the two types.

As for saying it's a cracker, well... the first movement is a delight from the very beginning. It's a mixture of neoclassical and folk influences, with some similarity to the 3rd symphony but in some ways more interesting because it seems to be using fragments of a number of different 'folk tunes' rather than just obsessing over one.  The changes of pace in some sections, as one fragment gets interrupted by another, are masterfully handled by conductor Owain Arwel Hughes.

The longer second movement is in a similar vein, but it starts off in a subdued fashion and tends to hold onto each of its musical ideas for longer. There's more of a steady tick-tocking pace, until the music seems to get a little 'stuck'. By the time it transitions from Andante to Allegro energico (according to the BIS track divisions, although there's not much of an audible tempo change at that moment), the rhythm becomes more 'broken' and syncopated.

The whole thing is, to my ears, thoroughly convincing and constructed with great skill. It's a great introduction to Holmboe's 'early' style (when he was in his mid-20s, but taking into account that 1935 was the very year that he first wrote works that he decided were worthy of opus numbers). It already has 'Holmboesque' traits such as the sense of line and counterpoint, and his enjoyment of percussion. He might have gone on to write more sophisticated or complex music, but this is a fine piece in its own right.

Just ordered from the amazon mp.  I have fallen for the '4 Symphonic Metamorphoses' disc hard and this new one is my 2nd Holmboe purchase.

Hat tip to orfeo for the excellent reviews!   ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 22, 2014, 02:54:46 PM
An excellent choice, Sir! Two fine early symphonies coupled with what is, at this moment, my favourite of the later ones.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Octave on March 22, 2014, 11:11:10 PM
Are there strong preferences for a recording of Chamber Concerto No. 10 (Wood-Brass-Gut)?

Among commercial recordings, I only know of (but haven't heard) the Hannu Koivula (Marco Polo) and the Owain Arwel Hughes (Bis).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 23, 2014, 02:51:50 AM
Are there strong preferences for a recording of Chamber Concerto No. 10 (Wood-Brass-Gut)?

Among commercial recordings, I only know of (but haven't heard) the Hannu Koivula (Marco Polo) and the Owain Arwel Hughes (Bis).

I can't help you out with that one a great deal. My own feeling, just from sampling rather than owning, is that BIS might have the edge in some of the concertos where a direct comparison is possible (eg Concerto No.1 for piano), but I don't remember having a strong preference in Concerto No.10.

I've ended up deciding that I'm going to get hold of both series (Da Capo's complete numbered concertos 1-13, and BIS's partial set of numbered concertos with some other works) because I listened to the unique couplings and decided I wanted them all... next on the shopping list!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 23, 2014, 04:11:33 AM
Tempo variabile, op.108 (1971-72)


This symphonic metamorphosis is a decade later than the others, and much of it has the more translucent texture found in Holmboe's works from around the 1970s.  Not that all the music is delicate - for example the second of the four main sections gets a bit wild!

Now is a good time to talk about Holmboe's occasional habit of amusing himself with his tempo instructions (which I first encountered with a couple of the string quartets), because here he plays with the dual meaning of 'tempo'.  In the musical world we're used to thinking of it meaning 'time', but in Italian it also means 'weather'. The main catalogue of Holmboe's works translates this title in two ways - it's either "Variable Tempo" (not a lot of translating really) or "Changeable Weather".

And while it's a continuous piece of music, it does fall into 4 very distinct sections: Tempo incostante, Tempesta, Tempo calmo and Tempo piovoso e sereno. 'Piovoso' means 'rainy', and while the 'incostante' does change a fair bit the speed is fairly steady, so these are not your normal speed markings. And yes, the start of the 'piovoso' section, with xylophone and pizzicato strings, absolutely  does sound like a shower has appeared...

I've yet to hear any clear recurring motifs in this work other than the string of repeated notes/beats that not only join the sections together (as mentioned in the liner notes) but begin the whole work, and a cluster note figure. This seems to be primarily an exercise in creating lots of different colours and moods, as befits its 'weather' title.  And it succeeds in holding interest throughout, as none of the sections are terribly long. If you don't like a passage, just wait a while and it will be replaced by another one.  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 23, 2014, 04:33:21 AM
Right, that's that then! I thought, having scattered works all over the place at you, I might round this off just by listing these works in the order they were written, because that would be the way to listen to them that would actually show Holmboe's evolving style (if you're anything like me and find things like that interesting).

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 04, 2014, 02:41:39 PM
I've started to listen to the Holmboe orchestral works in chronological order now (the list on Wikipeida, which I believe is the work of Orfeo, is indispensible).

I would have added the string quartets in, but I had listened to them in order last year, and I didn't think of it till too late. However it is interesting how late the numbered sqs begin, 1 isn't until until after the 6th symphony, 10 until after the 9th.

Anyway, I am up to the 1st Chamber Symphony now, and what I have gleaned is that Holmboe's 'neo-classical' style is no such thing. He writes in his early works reasonably short pieces usually in familiar forms such as three movements, fast-slow-fast, and the music is not too dissonant, and contrapuntal. But in these works, and between movements, there is continuous development of themes, which is the exact opposite of neo-classical.

However in the Symphonies, as opposed to the series of 'chamber concertos', space opens up. This begins with the second symphony, is less marked in the third, the fifth returns to a more compact form, but after the sixth, the symphonies really open up, have longer spans with more contrasting moods and textures.

Relying on memory here, I believe what happens later is that the later symphonies and the other orchestral works, including the later concertos, continue with this opening up in scale (even though he can always write compact movements at any stage of his career).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 06, 2014, 11:56:41 AM
The things you notice when you listen chronologically, in two works of the early 50s, the 1st Chamber Symphony and the 8th Symphony there is a sudden appearance of overt Sibelian references, which then are not found in subsequent works.

Also, just a one-off observation, has anyone how the last movement of the Symphony In Memoriam in place sounds remarkably like Rubbra in one of his funereal moods, complete with thumping timpani?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on April 06, 2014, 01:08:07 PM
The things you notice when you listen chronologically, in two works of the early 50s, the 1st Chamber Symphony and the 8th Symphony there is a sudden appearance of overt Sibelian references, which then are not found in subsequent works.

Interestingly, Per Norgard, who was studying with Holmboe at this time and who had deep conversations with his teacher about the "metamorphosis" approach, said that Holmboe never mentioned Sibelius. And yet, the connection seems so obvious.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 07, 2014, 11:30:39 AM
'Nother chronological observation, I've already noted the discontinuity in VH's music where in the 6th Symphony suddenly a new scale to the music happens.

Well, I've just passed another one: this is between the third Sinfonia for Strings and the 'metamorphosis' piece Monolith. After this, following on with the piece Epilogue and then the fourth String Sinfonia ('Kairos') we get a more more spare, modernist sound, with more discontinuities.

Just about to listen to the Ninth now!

(One pedantic footnote, I see that after the Eighth Holmboe toyed with the idea of called his Sinfonia in Memoriam his Ninth and then Epilogue. Was he superstitious of writing a Ninth like Mahler, and tried to get over the line with a non traditional one, or was he just undecided?)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 07, 2014, 06:26:28 PM
Well, I've just passed another one: this is between the third Sinfonia for Strings and the 'metamorphosis' piece Monolith. After this, following on with the piece Epilogue and then the fourth String Sinfonia ('Kairos') we get a more more spare, modernist sound, with more discontinuities.

Absolutely. There is a real change in sound around that point. Some of the CD liner notes, when referring to this period, suggest that Holmboe felt challenged by some of his more modernist pupils.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 08, 2014, 09:52:16 PM
And so another break in Holmboe’s style, the modernist phase lasts through Monolith, Epilogue, the fourth Sinfonia for Strings and the 9th and 10th Symphonies (the 2nd and 3rd Chamber Symphonies have aspects of this but also refer back to an earlier style in Holmboe’s work, the ‘neo-classical’).

With Tempo Variable, though it also has modernist aspects, we begin to get into a nature phase in Holmboe’s work, and the next few works (the Cello and Tuba Concertos and the Violin Concerto No.2) mix these two aspects. For example the Tuba Concerto has passages that are spare and almost aleatory all with those that have stylised bird song! Certain passages in the Symphony No.11 could almost have been written by the Vaughan Williams  late in his career.

These are remarkable fresh, beautiful works for someone who was now in his 70s, almost as though he was looking to a pastoral style to effect a rejuvenation.

Of course, I’m cheating a bit here because I know how the story ends, only a few more works to go to the very last works, including the orchestral Preludes, those beautiful tone-poems. But I also know that the modernist side doesn’t let up at all in this final phase.

The thing I find remarkable about Holmboe is that his music goes through four stylistic phases, but one doesn’t replace the other, it’s merely that another stylistic layer is added, so different styles can co-exist within the same work, or you can have later works that hark back to earlier phases. Listening to his music is like living and travelling beneath a mountain range: there are different views and there are different rocks and different faces and peaks, and sometimes the mist lifts to reveal this area or that area, or you enter a valley and get a whole new vista, but it’s all the same mountain range.

It is obvious that some works are a little bit less inspired than others, but I’ve been surprised how, in listening to the works through in order how many pieces have opened up and shown new features as I’ve been listening.

I guess my absolute favourite pieces so far would be:

Symphony 2
Clarinet Concerto (3)
Viola and Oboe Concerto (13)
Symphony 8
Sinfonia in Memoriam
Sinfonia II for Strings
Epilogue
Symphony 9
Symphony 10
Tuba Concerto
Symphony 11
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on July 29, 2014, 04:43:25 PM
Just going through the list of compositions from Wikipedia and seeing what pieces I haven't heard and would like to. I managed to snaffle a few chamber pieces from YouTube I hadn't heard before.

I was intrigued by Holmboe's last completed work, the Concerto for String Quartet. I hope Bis or DA Capo decide to record this. Such an unusual combination, I can't think of another work for the same forces.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on July 30, 2014, 01:09:09 AM
Martinu has one.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 30, 2014, 01:11:51 AM
Just going through the list of compositions from Wikipedia and seeing what pieces I haven't heard and would like to. I managed to snaffle a few chamber pieces from YouTube I hadn't heard before.

I was intrigued by Holmboe's last completed work, the Concerto for String Quartet. I hope Bis or DA Capo decide to record this. Such an unusual combination, I can't think of another work for the same forces.

Working out what pieces were out there, and that I hadn't heard, was pretty much the reason for creating the list in the first place!  ;D

It's very pleasing to see that these days, for the works with opus numbers at least, the works that are recorded far outnumber the ones that aren't (to my knowledge) recorded, but there's still quite a few for which I'm not aware of any recording. The Concerto for String Quartet is one of them.

If you stumble across any recordings of opuses 1, 3, 5-11, 13, 14, 18, 22-24, 26, 28, 41, 42, 45, 51, 58, 62, 74, 75, 82, 83, 88, 91, 94, 97, 99, 104, 106, 107, 109, 112, 113, 118, 119, 128, 130, 131, 134, 137, 145, 150, 151, 161-163, 165, 169, 173, 177, 178, 181-183, 194-196, let me know!

Mind you, some of those works are simply missing or incomplete. But there are others that I look at and think someone really should record them. There are two chief gaps that stand out for me at the moment.

First, there are 3 concertos apparently yet to be recorded: the Violin Concerto op.14, the Louisiana Concerto for Strings op.131, and the String Quartet Concerto op.195. That sure looks to me like an opportunity for another disc similar to the excellent 2013 Da Capo disc with viola/violin/orchestral concertos.

Second, there's a disc or two worth of accompanied choral music begging to be made. Put Skoven (The Forest) op.74 with Traeet (The Tree) op.62 and you've got the makings of something. Or combine Ordet (The Word) op.134 (brass and organ, biblical text), the Biblical Cantata op.150 (brass and strings), and Ode to the Soul, op.161 (brass and organ). Somewhere in there you could throw in Die Erfullung (The Fulfilment) op.183 (wind and brass).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 30, 2014, 02:52:07 AM

Just going through the list of compositions from Wikipedia and seeing what pieces I haven't heard and would like to. I managed to snaffle a few chamber pieces from YouTube I hadn't heard before.

I was intrigued by Holmboe's last completed work, the Concerto for String Quartet. I hope Bis or DA Capo decide to record this. Such an unusual combination, I can't think of another work for the same forces.

Martinu has one.

Also (although it is an arrangement of Handel), Schoenberg.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on July 30, 2014, 02:56:41 AM
And Benjamin Lees.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 30, 2014, 03:07:21 AM
And Benjamin Lees.

Not to strain the tangent o'ermuch  8) . . . I'm not sure I've heard of Lees at all . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: North Star on July 30, 2014, 03:28:31 AM
Not to strain the tangent o'ermuch  8) . . . I'm not sure I've heard of Lees at all . . . .

Quote from: Bret Johnson, on The Guardian
Benjamin Lees, who has died aged 86, was one of the most important American composers of the generation born in the 1920s. (http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/jun/07/benjamin-lees-obituary)
OK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Lees)
I guess Crumb, Feldman & al. will have to make room for him.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on July 31, 2014, 12:28:17 AM
Schoenberg, Martinu, Lees

I'd sooner hear Holmboe's

 ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 31, 2014, 03:19:21 AM
The Schoenberg is good fun;  if you haven't heard his 'adaptive' pieces, give it a go!  And, even if you have heard his scoring of the Brahms piano quartet . . . the pieces after Handel (this string quartet concerto) and Monn (the cello concerto) are, as befits the different source era, quite different.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 05, 2014, 05:04:11 AM
4 discs worth of Holmboe from the BIS label arrived today: the piano/clarinet/oboe concertos disc, the brass concertos one, the orchestral concertos one and the cello concerto one (which is so old Owain Arwel Hughes isn't the conductor!  :D)

I haven't checked, but I have a suspicion I might now own every all-Holmboe disc that BIS has produced. Where's the challenge in that?

EDIT: Yep. And in fact, because a couple of performances are duplicated on different discs, there are a grand total of 2 performances issued by BIS that I don't own. The Notturno wind quintet, op.19, and the Concerto for Brass, op.157.

Still a bit of Da Capo to go, though...

SECOND EDIT: Wow. It turns out the BIS recording of the Cello Concerto is from the world premiere in 1975. Can't wait to try that one.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: cilgwyn on August 05, 2014, 07:44:52 AM
More Vagn Holmboe sales! Thanks to calyptorhyncus (love the way that trips off the tongue!) I am now hooked on Holmboe symphonies! More expense,but a couple came through the letterbox this morning. Currently listening to 8 & 9. I listened to 6 & 7 earlier. No's 1,2 & 3 again later. Hopefully No's 4,5 & 11-13 will arrive tomorrow! If the Landlord ask for the rent I'll have to pay him in Holmboe!! ??? ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on August 06, 2014, 12:22:57 AM
More Vagn Holmboe sales! Thanks to calyptorhyncus (love the way that trips off the tongue!) I am now hooked on Holmboe symphonies! More expense,but a couple came through the letterbox this morning. Currently listening to 8 & 9. I listened to 6 & 7 earlier. No's 1,2 & 3 again later. Hopefully No's 4,5 & 11-13 will arrive tomorrow! If the Landlord ask for the rent I'll have to pay him in Holmboe!! ??? ;D

Yes, he was a very fine composer. 6,7,8 and 10 are my favourites. I wish that the LP versions of 8 and 10 had been reissued on CD. The Turnabout LP of No.8 was my introduction to Holmboe.




Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 21, 2015, 12:56:18 AM
No activity on here for a while...

I just put String Quartet No.6 on. It wasn't one of the ones that made a specific impression on me when I was listening to the whole cycle. Well, that's not entirely true, as I remembered that (with 7 and 8) it was one of the more 'modern' sounding quartets and had a bit of a violent mood at times.

But golly, it was absolutely what I was looking for today. A really dynamic work, with highly propulsive sections offset by haunting slow sections.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 21, 2015, 07:49:03 AM
Weren't you listen to the Cello Concerto earlier, orfeo? Tell us your impressions of this work. Inquiring minds want to know. ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 21, 2015, 01:47:23 PM
Weren't you listen to the Cello Concerto earlier, orfeo? Tell us your impressions of this work. Inquiring minds want to know. ;)

Ha. That actually came after the quartet...

I'm not sure yet. Holmboe just isn't ever about quick first impressions for me. It's all in one movement, and one very interesting thing is that there's a quite a lengthy solo (cadenza?) at the end. I almost forgot the orchestra existed until it came back in the very final bars.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 21, 2015, 02:48:27 PM
PS In the back of my mind I plan to do a concerto survey, the way I did one for symphonic works. I'm inclined to think, though, that I should wait until I've got hold of the 4 volumes of the Da Capo chamber concerto series.

I do now have all of the later concertos that have been recorded (as far as I know, no-one's done the String Quartet Concerto or the Louisiana Concerto for string).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on February 21, 2015, 11:38:42 PM
PS In the back of my mind I plan to do a concerto survey, the way I did one for symphonic works. 

Will be appreciated highly!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2015, 12:36:18 AM
Well, I can provide an instant reaction to the Tuba Concerto which I'm listening to for the third time today. Love it!



I can't compare it to any other concerto for the tuba because I've never heard one before, but this piece seems to capture the instrument perfectly.

I haven't tried the shorter Intermezzo Concertante yet, that'll be for another day.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2015, 01:13:54 AM
Hmm...

Having just uncovered a couple of recordings I didn't know about in an iTunes search (on mixed CDs, not Holmboe-exclusive ones), I'm seriously considering creating a Holmboe discography. The recording history is extensive enough to make a survey useful, but not so big as to make the task impossible.

The question would be, though, where to put it? It's not really suitable for Wikipedia. I could create a blog post just for it... or a whole new blog?

It's the kind of thing that would belong on a dedicated website, but I don't know enough about such things.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 25, 2015, 11:10:16 PM
I'm going to do it. I'm going to build a Holmboe discography. Link in my signature but also right here: http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/

Obviously I'm completely insane for taking this on, but over the last few days I've acquired all the raw data I could want. Now it's a question of presenting it in a way that will be readable and helpful.

Comments most definitely welcome, either here or on the blog.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2015, 01:55:45 AM
Having made a few introductory posts which will eventually be useful, I've made my first concrete effort. Let me know whether it reads okay.

The Symphonies. (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/the-symphonies.html)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on February 26, 2015, 02:25:19 AM
Having made a few introductory posts which will eventually be useful, I've made my first concrete effort. Let me know whether it reads okay.

The Symphonies. (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/the-symphonies.html)

Great job, many thanks! Maybe you could add that e.g. Youtube contains some of these other recordings, e.g. the Semkov here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz8PuRo8Xyo and that Leon Botstein's can be found on Spotify? 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2015, 03:08:03 AM
Great job, many thanks! Maybe you could add that e.g. Youtube contains some of these other recordings, e.g. the Semkov here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz8PuRo8Xyo and that Leon Botstein's can be found on Spotify?

Yes, I've been thinking about that, so thanks for suggesting it. I've done a general introductory post about recordings and their availability  here  (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/an-introduction-some-notes-on-record.html)(which I've just edited a little - just found out about the Semkov myself today!). I'm not sure yet how far I want to get into trying to say where to find things, as opposed to saying that they exist. The problem with saying where to find something is it's more liable to change.

I will keep thinking about it though. I think for things like the Botstein recording I need a succinct way of saying "pretty much available on all your regular download and streaming services".
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on February 26, 2015, 03:17:23 AM
I will keep thinking about it though. I think for things like the Botstein recording I need a succinct way of saying "pretty much available on all your regular download and streaming services".

Exactly. That diminishes the risk of referring to places where they're no longer available, yet makes it easy to trace those recordings for yourselves. Perhaps adding something like 'for example Youtube, Spotify or Musicweb' - or similar wordings. (I'm not familiar with all of them myself, I only use Youtube and Spotify). Thanks!  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2015, 04:08:58 AM
While I was on a roll I decided to pick off some low-hanging fruit with  the chamber symphonies and symphonic metamorphoses (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/chamber-symphonies-and-symphonic.html).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on February 26, 2015, 05:47:18 AM
I'm going to do it. I'm going to build a Holmboe discography. Link in my signature but also right here: http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/

Obviously I'm completely insane for taking this on, but over the last few days I've acquired all the raw data I could want. Now it's a question of presenting it in a way that will be readable and helpful.

Comments most definitely welcome, either here or on the blog.

Nostalgia trip to see that Semkow LP of Symphony 8 on the Turnabout label - my introduction to the composer, bought in a record shop in Notting Hill Gate, London - also the Ehrling LP of Symphony 10; two great discoveries for me. A pity that neither performance is on CD.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 27, 2015, 06:33:09 PM
Added an entry to the discography for Kairos (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/sinfonias-for-strings-kairos.html).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on February 27, 2015, 07:02:59 PM
Excellent work. 
But speaking of Tuba Concertos, there is one by RVW.
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516d43iP10L.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 27, 2015, 07:34:13 PM
Worth knowing, as RVW is on my 'get-to-know' list.

Meanwhile, I've added an entry to the discography for the Preludes (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/preludes.html). I don't know if I'll keep up this pace. To be honest, starting with orchestral works meant that I did a lot of the easiest entries first. Now, if I head into the concertos, it becomes harder to work out how to arrange the material so that it's comprehensible.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on February 27, 2015, 07:59:53 PM
Vagn Williams?

Today's VH: Chamber Symphony No. 1, a whopping 192/24 download from eClassical.  Absolutely gorgeous.  And the Symphony No. 6, ripped from CD, but certainly not embarassing itself soundwise compared to the Dacapo hi-rez recording.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 01, 2015, 04:59:48 AM
Added an entry to the discography for the Numbered Concertos (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/concertos-part-1-numbered-concerto.html).  This is where things got complicated - not least because you can't even rely on everyone to name the works in the same way! Rather difficult to make it readable, hope it's okay.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 01, 2015, 12:42:03 PM
Thanks very much for your discographical work Orfeo, I'll look forward to reading the Concertos page this evening.

I think things are going to get very lengthy when you get to the chamber works. Not only did VH write an incredible number for all sorts of combinations, and not all are recorded, but many that are recorded are found as single works on "Trombone Music from Denmark and Norway" type disks along with the works by 3 or 4 other composers. Good luck!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 01, 2015, 01:33:59 PM
Actually, the chamber music isn't that bad. It's the unaccompanied choral music that's the killer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 03, 2015, 08:02:39 PM
I can't remember whether I've said this before here but I was reading a biography of Robert Simpson recently and there it was stated that Simpson, when asked who, in his opinion, the greatest living composer was, would always reply "Holmboe".

Simpson said that he was always amazed by how prolific Holmboe was, and yet each of his works embodied successfully musical movement, which Simposn regarded as the highest skill of a composer.

Simpson used to visit Denmark regularly in the 1950s mainly to visit Nielsen's family and other Danish musicians and composers. This included Holmboe and he visited the Holmboes regularly at their home.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 03, 2015, 11:26:59 PM
I can't remember whether I've said this before here but I was reading a biography of Robert Simpson recently and there it was stated that Simpson, when asked who, in his opinion, the greatest living composer was, would always reply "Holmboe".

Simpson said that he was always amazed by how prolific Holmboe was, and yet each of his works embodied successfully musical movement, which Simposn regarded as the highest skill of a composer.

Simpson used to visit Denmark regularly in the 1950s mainly to visit Nielsen's family and other Danish musicians and composers. This included Holmboe and he visited the Holmboes regularly at their home.

I stayed a whole afternoon with the Holmboes (officially for an 'interview' for the Dutch Radio), concluded with a walk through the garden - actually a 'park' with a small forest they had planted themselves when they bought this plot of land with the prize money Holmboe won with his Second Symphony in the late 1930s - in August 1995, when he had completed his Thirteenth Symphony (the manuscript was on the piano, he showed it) and was more or less recovering from an even worse health in the year before.

It was indeed Robert Simpson who brought Holmboe to our attention. In my case in the second volume of 'The Symphony' 'Elgar to the Present Day', edited by him. I used it as a guide to many 'new' symphonists in the 1980s. The chapter on Vagn Holmboe was however written Robert Layton, the British specialist in Nordic composers.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on March 04, 2015, 12:19:12 AM
That book was seminal for me as well !
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 04, 2015, 02:35:53 AM
That book was seminal for me as well !

Great to learn! We share a similar background then.  ;) The Penguin Vol. 2 of 'The Symphony', clearly led by Robert Simpson's view on the modern symphony, guided me through my musical 1980s. I think I explored all the symphonists it praises and I almost always complied, and still do. Without it, I wouldn't have known Holmboe, I think. And be less impressed by Havergal Brian, Martinu or Franz Schmidt.

Only later I began to see how many were still missing in the Penguin Guide: Tubin, Melartin, Englund, Braga Santos, Langgaard, Koppel, Vermeulen, Saygun, and so on. Who are you missing?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on March 04, 2015, 03:09:11 AM
That book was thumbed to death in the late 70ies, but to check who is missing I would need to check the contents. It really put me on the track to some 8at the time) seldom heard music. I would guess Sallinen weren't in it, but that is only a very rough guess (the book are still on my shelves at home, but I'm at work now). Koppel and Englund are on my favorite list as well, and I see you mention them as missing. Vermeulen I don't know, and I've never quite come to grips with Tubin.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 04, 2015, 03:47:29 AM
That book was thumbed to death in the late 70ies, but to check who is missing I would need to check the contents. It really put me on the track to some 8at the time) seldom heard music. I would guess Sallinen weren't in it, but that is only a very rough guess (the book are still on my shelves at home, but I'm at work now). Koppel and Englund are on my favorite list as well, and I see you mention them as missing. Vermeulen I don't know, and I've never quite come to grips with Tubin.

I'm lucky - working at home today (at least ought to  ;) ). My copy of the Penguin/Pelican guide to The Symphony - a present by a friend in 1982 - is only complete because I glued it all together again, but is otherwise completely corrupt, caused by a similar use. Haha!

Sallinen is mentioned, in the closing paragraph of the chapter on 'Vagn Holmboe and the Later Scandinavians', as one of the promising newbies. But my own first response was: WHO's this Holmboe - the only name in the chapter titles I had never heard of before? To be honest: the first I heard of him were Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7, on the release of the BIS CD somewhere around 1990. I still remember how the opening bars of the Sixth felt: WOW!!! Spelbound.  :)

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 04, 2015, 04:14:52 AM
My introduction to Holmboe praise was the Penguin CD guide. Remarks about the music tended to dominate the Holmboe reviews in there (back 10-15 years ago when they were a decent length) because there usually wasn't a comparison to be made between recordings.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 04, 2015, 05:23:53 AM
I've added a post to the discography for the other concertos (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/concertos-part-2-early-and-late-works.html).

I'll have to think about what I tackle next. I think it's going to be the string quartets, then other chamber music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 04, 2015, 06:06:31 AM
Cool;  I should re-survey the string quartets!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 06, 2015, 06:23:50 PM
I added the string quartets (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/string-quartets.html).  There's an old recording of SQ No.3 in a new Decca box set of mono recordings. Looks like it's only available on disc, not download, which means you have to get all 53 discs to get anything you want? Ugh.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on March 06, 2015, 08:00:10 PM
You would think individual SQs would get some attention...
I admit that at first glance I mistook the artwork on those Copenhagen Quartet LPs for some sort of anime monster.

You are doing yoeman's work here.   Thank you for it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 06, 2015, 08:53:34 PM
You would think individual SQs would get some attention...
I admit that at first glance I mistook the artwork on those Copenhagen Quartet LPs for some sort of anime monster.

You are doing yoeman's work here.   Thank you for it.

1. Absolutely. This exercise is simultaneously making me think "gee, look how many old recordings there are, buried away" and "gee, look how many of these works only have one readily available version". And there are still mature works with no recordings at all. The Kontra Quartet ought to be roundly thanked for taking up the quartets, because there's little other evidence of any modern group so much as touching what many commentators say is one of the best quartet cycles of the 20th century. Approach your local quartet and get them involved today!  ;)

2. I can totally understand why you'd think it was some sort of anime monster.

3. Thanks. It's a labour of love/obsession, but some portions of it are quite difficult so it's nice to know that other people are getting something out of it. Trying to wrestle the other chamber music into submission now...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 06, 2015, 10:35:00 PM
Well, um, that took a long while. I knew it would take a while, but it turned to be probably the most complicated task so far. I do hope it's reasonably readable.

I've made two more entries on chamber music.  Part 1 (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/chamber-music-part-1-strings-with-or.html) deals with piano trios, a piano quartet, a string trio, works for violin and piano and the solo cello sonata.

The chamber music with woodwinds and brass is in  Part 2  (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/chamber-music-part-2-music-including.html).  There's a Youtube clip and download link buried in there, on the grounds that the only recording of the op.18 Serenade is unlikely to get to you any other way!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 07, 2015, 01:37:20 AM
That book was thumbed to death in the late 70ies, but to check who is missing I would need to check the contents. It really put me on the track to some 8at the time) seldom heard music. I would guess Sallinen weren't in it, but that is only a very rough guess (the book are still on my shelves at home, but I'm at work now). Koppel and Englund are on my favorite list as well, and I see you mention them as missing. Vermeulen I don't know, and I've never quite come to grips with Tubin.

Yes, that book was a huge influence on me - in the 70s I guess. It is excellent, although I never agreed with Robert Layton's snooty remarks about Pettersson.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 07, 2015, 02:35:09 AM
I don't know why it is that everyone seems to think they can denigrate Pettersson, in a much ruder way than they would anyone else. I guess it's just that he depicts a particular way of feeling the agony of modernity (literally in his case) and many people feel uncomfortable about this.

As for me I bought the CPO boxed set of the symphonies a few years ago and have loved his works ever since; I think if you can depict existential experience in such a stark, raw way this is a kind of victory over the pain.

Pretty different from Holmboe's modus operandi though!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 07, 2015, 03:00:39 AM
I did another entry, of the music for brass (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/music-for-brass-ensemble.html) which is an area that I personally definitely want to explore and haven't yet. Holmboe's brass writing in works like the symphonies really stands out to me.

I don't actually have much instrumental music to go. There are works for guitar, recorder, piano, organ and accordion.  Then there's choral music, and there won't be much left then - there's a fair bit left to record, which might be a blog post in itself (biggest wishlist item: more accompanied choral works!)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 07, 2015, 02:01:28 PM
eClassical deal of the day is Holmboe's String Sinfonias:

http://www.eclassical.com/pages/daily-deal.html?cache=purge

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on March 07, 2015, 02:29:03 PM
I never agreed with Robert Layton's snooty remarks about Pettersson.

I don't know why it is that everyone seems to think they can denigrate Pettersson, in a much ruder way than they would anyone else. I guess it's just that he depicts a particular way of feeling the agony of modernity (literally in his case) and many people feel uncomfortable about this.

Interesting remarks. Initially I liked Pettersson, then I hated him, now I'm back to liking him, with some qualifications. I do think the in-yer-face pain and suffering in his music is what puts people off. I had to learn to appreciate it from a more aesthetically grounded standpoint in order to engage positively with his work again.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 07, 2015, 03:44:40 PM
Did a few more entries. One on piano music (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/piano-music.html) (when is anyone going to have a crack at the later works?).

One on music for organ or accordion (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/organ-and-accordion-music.html). Because, well, you know, let's just through "odd keyboards" together.

And one on guitar and recorder (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/guitar-and-recorder-music.html) because Holmboe did actually use them together and combining them in the discography made things slightly easier.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 08, 2015, 02:05:01 AM
Of course Orfeo's discography  has made me realise there is another disc I 'can't' do without. Just downloading the Dacapo Chamber Works 2 disc.

 ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 08, 2015, 02:07:52 AM
Of course!

Just popping in right as you say that to announce two more entries done.

1. An entry for  solo vocal music (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/solo-vocal-works.html), which is woefully under-represented.

2. An entry for the great choral collection Liber Canticorum (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/choral-works-liber-canticorum.html), certain bits of which are quite well represented in the catalogue! This was another entry that was fairly complex. But I know calyptorhynchus is fine, he's already got the whole thing.

Not actually that much left to go. The other choral works are the big chunk still left to deal with. I think there's a stray or two after that.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 08, 2015, 06:01:16 PM
The madness is very nearly at an end...

The choral works with orchestra (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/choral-works-works-with-orchestra.html) got their own, sadly rather small, entry.

And then all the other choral works (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/other-choral-works.html) got put in one rather large, hard to organise entry. The most useful stuff is at the top, but then comes all the bits and pieces that you're most unlikely to ever find. Self-released LPs. School choirs. The scary thing is that I can verify almost all of it is out there somewhere, buried in Danish city libraries and the like.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 08, 2015, 06:59:18 PM
Right. Finished. Can I get on with my life now... :D

A very small entry for Stage music (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/stage-and-screen.html) because there's only one relevant recording.

And then it's all over until there are more recordings, preferably something from this list (http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/and-now-unrecorded-music.html)! Accompanied works for choir, please.

Any questions, mistakes or, heaven forbid, omissions, do let me know in some way. I really want to maintain/update this as a quality resource.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 27, 2015, 07:44:30 AM
Hello, you might have noticed I haven't been posting. This has been because I'm travelling.

Right now I'm in Copenhagen. Guess who raided a couple of CD shops this morning, gasping in delight at the sheer number of Holmboe CDs available?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 27, 2015, 08:03:40 AM
Buon viaggio!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on April 27, 2015, 09:06:55 PM
Hello, you might have noticed I haven't been posting. This has been because I'm travelling.

Right now I'm in Copenhagen. Guess who raided a couple of CD shops this morning, gasping in delight at the sheer number of Holmboe CDs available?

Tell us. #who?  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: The new erato on April 28, 2015, 06:40:48 AM
The suspense is killing me as well.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 29, 2015, 05:35:14 AM
Ha.

At Copenhagen Airport now, flush with Holmboe booty. Will post the list from my PC rather than struggling with my iPhone.

Hot titbit, though: Da Capo are looking at recording the symphonies, creating competition with the BIS set. Planning stages only, I understand, but something to look forward to.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 29, 2015, 05:56:00 AM
Sweet!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 29, 2015, 03:32:10 PM
It's good news about the Da Capo recordings of the symphonies. I'll look forward to hearing them. I find it extraordinary that a composer of Holmboe's stature only has one recording of most of his symphonies. There are more recordings of the some of the Havergal Brian symphonies than Holmboe's.

Having said that I recently listened on YouTube to Jerzy Semkow conducting the Royal Danish Orchestra in the Symphony No.8 (an LP that never got issued as a CD). I then listened to the Bis recording and was mildly perplexed when I found they sounded quite similar. Perhaps Homlboe's music doesn't lend itself to 'interpretations'?

Hope Da Capo also look at the unrecorded works too, particularly (my choices from the Unrecorded Works section of Orfeo's discography).

Opus 82: Sonata for solo double bass
Opus 137: Trio for clarinet, cello and piano
Opus 165: String Quintet
Opus 195: Concerto for string quartet and orchestra
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 02, 2015, 04:33:36 AM
Hope Da Capo also look at the unrecorded works too, particularly (my choices from the Unrecorded Works section of Orfeo's discography).

Opus 82: Sonata for solo double bass
Opus 137: Trio for clarinet, cello and piano
Opus 165: String Quintet
Opus 195: Concerto for string quartet and orchestra

My own special request is that they get onto the accompanied choral music.  There's a whole pile of interesting looking works there.

Opus 62: Træet (The Tree) - chamber orchestra
Opus 74: Skoven (The Forest) - orchestra
Opus 134: Ordet (The Word) - brass and organ
Opus 150: Bibelsk Kantate (Biblical Cantata) - brass and strings
Opus 161: Ode til sjælen (Ode to the soul) - brass and organ
Opus 183: Die Erfüllung (The Fulfilment) - woodwinds and brass

EDIT: I've just realised I said much the same thing last year. I'm just neater in my presentation now! There's a definitely a CDs worth there, as many of them are multi-movement pieces that are fairly substantial. According to the printed catalogue I have, op.74 is about 27 minutes long and op.183 about 25 minutes long.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 07, 2015, 06:05:23 PM
Okay, I'm now curious to know whether anyone has heard the Requiem for Nietzsche.



I had listened to it online a couple of times, but now that I've got hold of a CD... it's a rather fascinating work for a couple of reasons. First, it's one of Holmboe's largest-scale works. 11 movements (for 11 sonnets), and about 51 minutes long on the sole recording. Second, it's from his most 'modern' period in the 1960s.

I'm liking it a lot, but it really doesn't sound that much like a typical Holmboe work and I think people who know him from the symphonies would be quite surprised by this.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 14, 2015, 03:27:04 AM
I've decided I definitely am going to do reviews for the concertos the way that I did for the symphonic works. I really want to get to know them better. There's 23 recorded works... and this time I'm even going to have recordings to choose from in some cases!

There's still two recordings I haven't even heard once yet (concertos 9 and 13), so I'm going to give them a whirl in the normal course of things before shuffling 'em all together and listening with a view to writing about them.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 14, 2015, 04:20:50 PM
Okay, I'm now curious to know whether anyone has heard the Requiem for Nietzsche.



I had listened to it online a couple of times, but now that I've got hold of a CD... it's a rather fascinating work for a couple of reasons. First, it's one of Holmboe's largest-scale works. 11 movements (for 11 sonnets), and about 51 minutes long on the sole recording. Second, it's from his most 'modern' period in the 1960s.

I'm liking it a lot, but it really doesn't sound that much like a typical Holmboe work and I think people who know him from the symphonies would be quite surprised by this.

Sorry to drop the ball.  Haven't listened to it . . . but you've got me wondering if I've reeled the CD in, but have yet to listen to it.  (That sometimes happens by me . . . .)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 15, 2015, 02:38:42 AM
Spotted on Dacapo's website:

"VAGN HOLMBOE
The Complete Chamber Concertos

Released: Jan 2016

Danish National Chamber Orchestra
Hannu Koivula, conductor

Vagn Holmboe, composer"

http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-vagn-holmboe--the-complete-chamber-concertos.aspx
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2015, 03:06:06 AM
Spotted on Dacapo's website:

"VAGN HOLMBOE
The Complete Chamber Concertos

Released: Jan 2016

Danish National Chamber Orchestra
Hannu Koivula, conductor

Vagn Holmboe, composer"

http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/recording-vagn-holmboe--the-complete-chamber-concertos.aspx

HA!

They talked about releasing this years ago!

You know why, don't you? It's because I bought their very last copy of one of the separate volumes.  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 15, 2015, 03:18:43 AM
Aye;  I gave up on the reissue, and wound up fetching in used copies of the original releases  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 15, 2015, 03:29:56 AM
HA!

They talked about releasing this years ago!

You know why, don't you? It's because I bought their very last copy of one of the separate volumes.  ;D

 :laugh: Thanks for your cunning maneuver!  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2015, 03:54:31 AM
You're welcome.

Only cost me about 100 kroner per disc...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 15, 2015, 04:14:38 AM
You're welcome.

Only cost me about 100 kroner per disc...

These things can be quite frustating, especially when a label puts a lot of effort in the box set design as Dacapo seems to do. Which in itself is laudable, of course.
At least they usually don't add some music to make the box set truly indispensable to collectors.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2015, 04:36:38 AM
I'm not really that bothered. Yes, the individual volumes were probably more expensive than a box will be, but the price wasn't outrageous and the circumstances of buying them direct from Da Capo's office (ie, actually standing in their office) will always be something a little bit special.

And no shipping costs.  ;)

I suppose I'd better make sure I get my concerto survey done before January. It's going to be genuinely interesting to compare the works where the Da Capo recordings come into competition with the BIS recordings, but there's no doubt this box will be a good deal because it will still be the only way to hear the complete series.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2015, 05:34:55 AM
Maybe I'm just clutching at straws here (per usual with me ;) ), but it would be really nice to see Dacapo record a symphony cycle.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 15, 2015, 07:39:41 AM
I'm not really that bothered. Yes, the individual volumes were probably more expensive than a box will be, but the price wasn't outrageous and the circumstances of buying them direct from Da Capo's office (ie, actually standing in their office) will always be something a little bit special.

And no shipping costs.  ;)

I suppose I'd better make sure I get my concerto survey done before January. It's going to be genuinely interesting to compare the works where the Da Capo recordings come into competition with the BIS recordings, but there's no doubt this box will be a good deal because it will still be the only way to hear the complete series.

You're absolutely right not to be bothered. Circumstances of buying make all the difference here. Besides, the release is six months away.

Once I'm in the way of listening to all these concertos, it will no doubt be a pleasure to
read your posts in this thread concerning them.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 15, 2015, 03:39:13 PM
Maybe I'm just clutching at straws here (per usual with me ;) ), but it would be really nice to see Dacapo record a symphony cycle.

Didn't you see me mention this? They told me in April it was on the cards.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2015, 05:59:54 PM
Didn't you see me mention this? They told me in April it was on the cards.

Sorry, I don't read everything that's posted in this thread. ::)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on August 30, 2015, 03:47:14 PM
Great thread! :)

One recording I didn't see mentioned here (maybe I missed it) is the three Chamber Symphonies on the Da Capo label. These are really symphonies despite the name, especially the first two; the third feels more like a divertimento or suite for chamber orchestra perhaps. But they each have the sound of Holmboe's orchestral music during the period he wrote it, even if the forces are reduced.

The first is roughly contemporary with the 8th symphony and is solid middle-period Holmboe; the second is one of his most profound works, dating from a year or two after he finished the 9th symphony and I think it's in a similar style to the 9th though the sound world is entirely different. The third (subtitled "Frieze") leans stylistically more towards the language of Tempo Variabile and the 10th Symphony. Somewhere around then Holmboe started to pull away from his "modernist" experiments and evolved a mellower, softer harmonic language and orchestral sound. I think Frieze might just be the turning point, at least in his writing for larger ensembles (larger than string quartets, anyway).

As these works have never been recorded before there is nothing to compare this release against, but the performances are certainly solid from a technical standpoint and it all sounds and feels like genuine Holmboe, at least to my ears. Has anyone else heard this?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on August 30, 2015, 04:15:27 PM
Okay, I'm now curious to know whether anyone has heard the Requiem for Nietzsche.

Yes! The disc in your picture was unobtainium when I was trying to find a recording of the work, and the only way I could get it was on an anthology disc called "Holmboe: The Key Masterpieces" or some such inane title. But I'm pretty sure it's the same performance.

I like it too, though with some reservations, and I agree that it's an unusual work for Holmboe. There are one or two details that seem hackneyed to me, e.g. the Wagner quotation on "Wagner". But most of it is shattering, powerful stuff, like the chorus's repeated "He would no longer Nietzsche be", which gives me goose bumps every time. And I love the ending, the setting so simple, almost like plainchant, but it's perfect for the text:

"At last let his pugnacious charity,
which unrequited in his grave laments,
invulnerable spread its mighty wings,
and by Genoa reach the open sea,
and where the greatest storm wears out and ends,
arrive victorious and rest in God."

Of course it's all sung in Danish, which I don't speak a word of... thank g_d for translations. :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on August 30, 2015, 06:20:53 PM
A new reissue of disparate recordings that includes Holmboe(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1664888.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on September 15, 2015, 04:39:09 AM
But I'm pretty sure it's the same performance.

Yes, it's the same performance.

Also, I did include the Chamber Symphonies in my symphony overview which is one of the many occasions where I've tried to basically take over this thread...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on September 25, 2015, 09:00:56 AM
Apparently the reissue of the complete Chamber Concertos has disappeared from Da Capo's release schedule up to March 2016.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) ???????CELLO CONCERTO???????
Post by: snyprrr on October 01, 2015, 01:55:19 PM
Cello Concerto (1975)

Can someone please give me five paragraphs about this, and the disc it's on? Aho's CC, of similar vintage, is just too noisy for me; I suspect Holmboe's is a work I may actually enjoy of his.I've looked through the Thread, and there's just some "dark, powerful" verbiage,... can I please have some more? You know, I just can't seem to get into Holmboe, and maybe this is my only option...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) ???????CELLO CONCERTO???????
Post by: Daverz on October 01, 2015, 03:39:25 PM
Cello Concerto (1975)

Can someone please give me five paragraphs about this, and the disc it's on? Aho's CC, of similar vintage, is just too noisy for me; I suspect Holmboe's is a work I may actually enjoy of his.I've looked through the Thread, and there's just some "dark, powerful" verbiage,... can I please have some more? You know, I just can't seem to get into Holmboe, and maybe this is my only option...

The Holmboe concerto is a fine work in a conservative neoclassical idiom which should be easy to assimilate.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) ???????CELLO CONCERTO???????
Post by: snyprrr on October 02, 2015, 01:45:17 PM
The Holmboe concerto is a fine work in a conservative neoclassical idiom which should be easy to assimilate.

see? that's exactly what I didn't want to hear...mmm... this will be difficult... How does it compare with the Sallinen?-in your estimation...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) ???????CELLO CONCERTO???????
Post by: Daverz on October 05, 2015, 03:08:07 AM
see? that's exactly what I didn't want to hear...mmm... this will be difficult... How does it compare with the Sallinen?-in your estimation...

The Sallinen is very different: rhapsodic, even cinematic, with echoes of Shostakovich.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) ???????CELLO CONCERTO???????
Post by: snyprrr on October 10, 2015, 01:30:32 PM
The Sallinen is very different: rhapsodic, even cinematic, with echoes of Shostakovich.

and that's exactly what i waaanted to hear!! :)... hmm,... might be it right thar...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 17, 2015, 05:08:35 AM
I've decided I definitely am going to do reviews for the concertos the way that I did for the symphonic works. I really want to get to know them better. There's 23 recorded works... and this time I'm even going to have recordings to choose from in some cases!

There's still two recordings I haven't even heard once yet (concertos 9 and 13), so I'm going to give them a whirl in the normal course of things before shuffling 'em all together and listening with a view to writing about them.

I said I would shuffle... now I'm not going to, because after finally listening to every scrap of Holmboe I got hold of in Copenhagen, I've decided I want to listen to everything I have in chronological order.

Which means the first concerto to turn up is the Concerto for Orchestra from 1929.



And look... honestly, it's not really a "concerto" at all. It's not just me saying this, it's the liner notes of the CD as well. It's more like an overture, scored for an orchestra that often ends up behaving like a brass band. I've always greatly admired Holmboe's use of brass, but in this early work it ends up being overdone.

It's not a bad piece of music by any means (one of the quieter sections is particularly effective), but it is a very early piece and there's not much of his mature musical personality on display. Perhaps some sections show his fondness for linear counterpoint, but the piece as a whole is broken up into sections that don't quite hang together yet.

Still, not bad for a teenager. And the quality of the recording is first class.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on December 17, 2015, 01:11:38 PM
I said I would shuffle... now I'm not going to, because after finally listening to every scrap of Holmboe I got hold of in Copenhagen, I've decided I want to listen to everything I have in chronological order.

Which means the first concerto to turn up is the Concerto for Orchestra from 1929.



And look... honestly, it's not really a "concerto" at all. It's not just me saying this, it's the liner notes of the CD as well. It's more like an overture, scored for an orchestra that often ends up behaving like a brass band. I've always greatly admired Holmboe's use of brass, but in this early work it ends up being overdone.

It's not a bad piece of music by any means (one of the quieter sections is particularly effective), but it is a very early piece and there's not much of his mature musical personality on display. Perhaps some sections show his fondness for linear counterpoint, but the piece as a whole is broken up into sections that don't quite hang together yet.

Still, not bad for a teenager. And the quality of the recording is first class.

It's an early work and a bit of a tub thumper.  I probably wouldn't have bothered listening a second time if I wasn't comparing compositions titled Concerto for Orchestra.  I think the best pre-war concertos for orchestra were by Hindemith, Casella and Kodaly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 18, 2015, 11:08:03 PM
Jumping forward a whole decade, one gets to Concerto No.1 (for piano), op.17. That's Concerto No.1 which happens to be for piano, not the 1st piano concerto...

The orchestra consists of just strings and timpani. A comparison that gets wide currency (even in a review of the premiere) is Bartok, although personally I don't know the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (written 3 years before the Holmboe) so I can't comment on just how similar the works might be.

And goodness me, I actually have two versions to compare.



There are 2 movements, and the first noticeable point of difference between the 2 recordings is that the long 1st movement Molto Moderato is 22 minutes on Da Capo vs 18 minutes on BIS.

The movement is very dark and mellow on the Da Capo version - definitely a lot of molto in the moderato. Much of the time it feels much more about the long flowing string lines than it does about the piano, and there's a solo violin part that takes prominence a couple of times. It's often highly lyrical. The 2nd movement is a contrast, still darkly toned but all pulsating rhythms and peasant dances.

The 1st movement on BIS immediately has more momentum in the strings, playing up the lyricism. When the piano arrives, it's perhaps placed a bit further forward and is more colourful. It's percussive qualities provide a more emphatic contrast to the strings in this performance I think. Nevertheless, this work is still not a full-on piano showpiece to the extent of many concertos. The 2nd movements of the performances are more similar, though perhaps the BIS remains slightly more colourful, either from the performance or the recording quality.

So, if I had to recommend one I'd say the BIS is the performance more likely to hold people's attention. However I still think the moodiness of the Da Capo version is effective. Either way it's good music worth hearing and a really satisfying example of Holmboe's folk-influenced style in this period.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on December 19, 2015, 01:42:27 AM
Jumping forward a whole decade, one gets to Concerto No.1 (for piano), op.17. That's Concerto No.1 which happens to be for piano, not the 1st piano concerto...

The orchestra consists of just strings and timpani. A comparison that gets wide currency (even in a review of the premiere) is Bartok, although personally I don't know the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (written 3 years before the Holmboe) so I can't comment on just how similar the works might be.

And goodness me, I actually have two versions to compare.



There are 2 movements, and the first noticeable point of difference between the 2 recordings is that the long 1st movement Molto Moderato is 22 minutes on Da Capo vs 18 minutes on BIS.

The movement is very dark and mellow on the Da Capo version - definitely a lot of molto in the moderato. Much of the time it feels much more about the long flowing string lines than it does about the piano, and there's a solo violin part that takes prominence a couple of times. It's often highly lyrical. The 2nd movement is a contrast, still darkly toned but all pulsating rhythms and peasant dances.

The 1st movement on BIS immediately has more momentum in the strings, playing up the lyricism. When the piano arrives, it's perhaps placed a bit further forward and is more colourful. It's percussive qualities provide a more emphatic contrast to the strings in this performance I think. Nevertheless, this work is still not a full-on piano showpiece to the extent of many concertos. The 2nd movements of the performances are more similar, though perhaps the BIS remains slightly more colourful, either from the performance or the recording quality.

So, if I had to recommend one I'd say the BIS is the performance more likely to hold people's attention. However I still think the moodiness of the Da Capo version is effective. Either way it's good music worth hearing and a really satisfying example of Holmboe's folk-influenced style in this period.

Thanks for your enlightening comments, Orfeo! I've been considering the BIS cd for a while; might just purchase it one of these days.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 19, 2015, 02:22:14 PM
Thanks for your enlightening comments, Orfeo! I've been considering the BIS cd for a while; might just purchase it one of these days.

Hey, thanks. I do this as much for my own benefit/enjoyment as anyone else's, but it's nice to know others get something out of it.

Concerto No.2, op.20 is a double concerto for flute and violin.  Only one recording this time, the Koivula on Da Capo.



One of the things that fascinates me about Holmboe is that it often takes me multiple listens to get into a piece. It's almost as if I have to ignore individual notes and take a bigger, structural view of what's going on.

This piece is a case in point. For a while I've been put off by the rather plodding, square material that the orchestra insists on multiple times in the first movement, but I'm now beginning to feel that the fact that it is plodding and square is quite intentional. Because this is more overtly a concertante work, and in the 1st movement the role of the soloists is to gradually win an argument with the strings-and-percussion orchestra.

The flute comes in first, contrasting against the plodding orchestra with a wandering, freeform solo. Then the violin does the same, then the two of them start working together, gradually persuading the orchestra over to their way of thinking. A bit over halfway through the movement, the orchestra is fully silenced,  and then the music slows down for a magical passage where the flute takes the lead with the violin in support. After that, when the orchestra comes back in it's gentler, a bit more lyrical... tamed!

The 2nd movement is a brief and bright scherzo, and the 3rd is an adagio where the orchestra often just accompanies the soloists with little more than a steady pulse. The finale is dance-like, with the orchestra and the soloists now tending to work together. The orchestra has a theme, but now it's willing for that to be an accompaniment to the soloists rather than trying to fight them.

So, while I wouldn't yet say that this is among my favourite works, it turns out yet again that this is a lot better than I thought it was! Good stuff, well worth a listen.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on December 19, 2015, 02:41:34 PM
personally I don't know the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Are you in for a treat.  My favorite on CD is Ormandy:

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 20, 2015, 10:04:41 AM
Hey, thanks. I do this as much for my own benefit/enjoyment as anyone else's, but it's nice to know others get something out of it.

Concerto No.2, op.20 is a double concerto for flute and violin.  Only one recording this time, the Koivula on Da Capo.



Late to the party, but I'm in here!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 20, 2015, 10:54:23 AM
Better late than never, Karl!

On a related Holmboian note, I listened to his Symphony No. 3 "Sinfonia Rustica" again last night and I'm still coming away from this symphony like it's one of the best things I've heard from him. I'm a complete sucker for folk-infused pieces and this symphony certainly doesn't disappoint here. Is it mature Holmboe? Probably (errr...most definitely) not, but I still love it anyway. I imagine Bartok would have as well. 8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 20, 2015, 01:10:33 PM
Better late than never, Karl!

On a related Holmboian note, I listened to his Symphony No. 3 "Sinfonia Rustica" again last night and I'm still coming away from this symphony like it's one of the best things I've heard from him. I'm a complete sucker for folk-infused pieces and this symphony certainly doesn't disappoint here. Is it mature Holmboe? Probably (errr...most definitely) not, but I still love it anyway. I imagine Bartok would have as well. 8)

Well, it's the same era as the pieces I'm talking about at the moment, so let's say "early maturity". First phase of the good stuff.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 20, 2015, 04:57:14 PM
Concerto No.3, op.21 is for clarinet. There's the same two options as there were for the piano concerto (the BIS performance with Martin Frost has also been repackaged on his own disc of clarinet concertos).



Well, I've had to completely rewrite this post while listening to the two performances. I still perhaps don't find this quite as characterful as the 1st (piano) and 2nd (flute/violin) concertos, but one of these performances finally made me appreciate the music much more.

Martin Frost on BIS is undoubtedly the more magnetic and charismatic soloist, and better recorded. But in my view, the work in his hands ends up being nothing more than a pleasant clarinet showpiece. On Da Capo (with Niels Thomsen), the music ends up making more sense as a whole.

The brass give a bit of a martial tone to the 1st movement whenever they turn up. On BIS, not a lot comes of that, and overall it feels like there's a lot of melodious clarinet noodling, followed in the 2nd movement by not-quite-perpetual motion noodling... okay, that isn't quite fair. There is in fact quite a bit of variety and interest.

But on Da Capo, after the martial opening, the clarinet comes in nervier, edgier. Every time the brass come back it feels like a reinforcement of the prevailing mood. After that the brighter 2nd movement feels like a relative relaxation, although it's still perhaps a fraction edgier than the BIS.

So yeah, sorry everyone for saying I prefer BIS in no.1 and Da Capo in no.3, but that's the truth. BIS has the better recording, and the better soloists, but in the clarinet concerto Da Capo makes better sense of the music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 21, 2015, 05:33:46 PM
After producing 3 concertos in 1939/40, Holmboe took a slight breather and then produced 3 more in 1942/43 (all of which have only been recorded once).

Starting with Concerto No.4, op.30, for piano trio.



I find this to be light, relatively uncomplicated music, a bit folksy. Dare I say it... in mood it reminds me a bit of the 3rd symphony, although it doesn't use folk tunes in the same overt way.

In the 1st movement the piano is a nearly unstoppable motoring force, brightly bubbling along whenever it can until it eventually it gets to take the lead in the cadenza. Everything is crisp and rhythmic.

The 2nd movement has first the cello and then the violin intoning mournful melodies over the barest of accompaniments. The piano and the rest of the orchestra eventually come in with light, delicate music, but fade away again for a reprise of the original material.

The finale is again light and crisp, with the soloists both working together and taking turns in the spotlight.

A charming work, one of Holmboe's most approachable.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on December 21, 2015, 05:38:44 PM
So yeah, sorry everyone for saying I prefer BIS in no.1 and Da Capo in no.3, but that's the truth. BIS has the better recording, and the better soloists, but in the clarinet concerto Da Capo makes better sense of the music.

No problem.   I have both recordings, of course! 

They are also both on Spotify and Tidal.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 22, 2015, 05:03:51 AM
Methodical listening, concentrating on a piece, makes such a difference for me! Some of these pieces are really making much more of an impression compared to my first listen in a haze of new music.

Concerto No.5 (op.31) is for viola.

The 1st movement is a fast dance, peasant-like and a little spiky. The soloist and orchestra often share material, one echoing the other.

The 2nd movement starts off in a very similar way to concerto no.4, with the viola lamenting over a static accompaniment. The difference is that here the bleak mood never lifts, instead it gets bleaker. The accompaniment shifts to somewhat menacing pizzicati, and eventually swells into a truly menacing pulse. It's powerful stuff. The viola ends the movement on its own.

The finale is another dance, just a fraction lighter in tone than the 1st, and this time in triple time instead of duple. The solo line is more independent of the orchestra, but both are on the move most of the time.

This is again pretty approachable music, but consistently darker in tone than no.4. They make rather good companions for each other. I'll definitely be returning to this viola concerto on a regular basis!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 22, 2015, 05:25:59 AM
Reading, and appreciating, thanks.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on December 22, 2015, 12:33:32 PM
Thanks for listening to the concertos and reporting on them Orfeo. I have been listening to each of them after reading your report, and I think pretty much our opinions coincide.

One thing I did notice of re-listening to them is that 1 & 2 (piano and flute and violin) seem to have a duality between softer "Danish" type music and wilder "Rumanian" type music. This disappears in 3 (clarinet) and is replaced by a tougher Danish type music. 4 (piano trio) is more neo-classical.

That's my take.

On to 5.....
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on December 24, 2015, 06:10:14 PM
In my never-ending quest to find new works by Holmboe I haven't heard before I found this:

(http://i.prs.to/t_200/730099974325.jpg)

containing the Sonatina for Oboe and Piano.

This is a 12 minute work dating from 1966, though it is decidedly not modernist and I suspect it was an earlier work revised by Holmboe. In fact it is a pastoral composition (fast slow fast), but it seems to have an emotional and aesthetic depth of a work about twice as long. The slow movement is particularly beautiful.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 25, 2015, 02:09:53 AM
I suspect it was an earlier work revised by Holmboe.

Written in 1966 as op.93, now op.93a. That recording, though, is the 1990 revision op.93b. So in fact what you're listening to is likely to have been de-modernised to some degree given the trajectory of Holmboe's composing style.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on December 25, 2015, 04:41:32 PM
 Right instinct, wrong data.

 ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 26, 2015, 06:35:11 PM
After having a couple of days off, it's time for Concerto No.6 (op.33) for violin.



The first movement starts with a 5-chord cadence in Andante tempo before the main Allegro con brio starts. The cadence figure reappears 3 more times during the movement, helping to give it a clear structure. The music is quite similar in feel to the opening movement of the (viola) Concerto No.5, but a little lighter, a bit more mercurial. The solo violin goes a bit wild in its two cadenzas.

The slow movement begins with the solo violin weaving an arabesque, before the lower strings contribute a slower, sombre melody and then the two join forces. It's beautiful stuff. In other passages the woodwinds lead the accompaniment, providing a delicate touch. The finale is generally light and rhythmic, perhaps not as memorable but I think the intention is to provide an opportunity for some virtuoso display.

Overall it's really clear that this sits emotionally in between the generally bright concerto no.4 and the darker concerto no.5. They form a natural triptych, with a lot of similarities in form and style but differing emotional content. Together I think they form a really excellent introduction to Holmboe's style of the period, along with the 5th symphony which came just after.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 28, 2015, 04:07:24 AM
Holmboe took a brief break from concerto writing (mainly to compose the 5th symphony), and then from late 1944 to early 1946 he was at it again, producing another four.

Starting with Concerto No.7 (op.37) for oboe. Apparently this was a work that had a little success. I have recordings to compare again!



There are some similarities between this and Concerto No.1 (for piano). A longer first movement followed by a brisker finale. And they start with a similar mood and the same tempo, molto moderato.  And, exactly as with Concerto No.1, the Da Capo recording is considerably more molto than the BIS recording.

The 1st movement is in fact, as both recordings tell me, in the 'arch' form associated with Bartok, ABCBA. One of them claims that the 'BCB' section is in fact a sonata form with exposition, development and recapitulation. I'm not entirely sure about that, but it's very clear that the 'BCB' which is an allegro stands out from the slower and sparser 'A' section. It's a surprising movement, and I'm not sure Holmboe's done something quite like this before - I feel as if this piece marks the beginning of the next phase of his musical language. The 2nd movement is yet another one of Holmboe's perpetual motion finales, although this one is only allegretto con moto so it comes across in a somewhat stately and dignified way.

To my ears the BIS recording is the winner here. The 'A' section of the 1st movement pulses attractively at its faster pace - not just because it's faster, but because Owain Arwel Hughes emphasises the pulsing rhythm that is written in the strings. That effect is totally flattened out by Koivula on Da Capo, and while the extremely mournful quality of his 'A' section is a different take, it's not as engaging. It's just a bit too static.

In the rest of the music, everything on BIS benefits from the greater colour and clearer recording. In particular, some important contributions from other solo instruments come across far better. Everything on Da Capo is just a little flat and featureless in comparison. Arguably that's true in terms of recordings across the whole of the respective sets, but I think this particular piece really benefits from the greater sense of colour on BIS.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 28, 2015, 10:06:52 PM
Another day, another concerto. I'll slow down soon because Holmboe will.  ;)

Concerto No.8, op.38 is subtitled Sinfonia Concertante. It's a concerto for orchestra.



Two movements again, but this time the 1st movement is the shorter, an allegro con brio which the recordings tell me is in sonata form (but Da Capo notes the themes are closely related, not unlike Haydn who was one of Holmboe's heroes).  The 2nd movement is a theme and variations, not dissimilar to the one in the 3rd symphony, with an emphasis on contrasting different sections of the orchestra.

To me there's a bit more evidence here of Holmboe's developing style. The 1st movement in particular has a slightly skewed sense of tonality and ends abruptly on the 'wrong' chord.

Both performances are pretty good, but this time I think it's Koivula on Da Capo that has the edge. The rhythms of the 1st movement are just slightly more pointed, but the greater difference is in the 2nd movement where he gets more atmosphere out of the variations, especially some of the slower ones in the middle. The BIS version is overall smoother, and I think in the variations in particular Hughes is aiming to present a more flowing move from one variation to the next. To me, he misses just a little of the character of some of them. 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 29, 2015, 07:46:25 PM
Concerto No.9 (op.39) is a double concerto for violin and viola. The only recording I have is the Da Capo disc above. There is in fact a recording from way back in 1969 but I don't have that one.

I have to admit I find this one not easy to grasp... it shows more signs of Holmboe's evolving style, and we are getting further away from recognisable folk music.

The 1st movement has a lot of sliding chromatic passages in the orchestra, and it almost feels as if the job of the soloists is to bring some stability to some proceedings and calm the orchestra down. This reminds me a bit of what I said about Concerto No.2, the previous 'double concerto', although it may equally apply to some others... it certainly is interesting that sometimes Holmboe treats the concerto form as an opportunity for contrast, and sometimes more as an opportunity for mirroring/reinforcement.

Anyway... the 1st movement is full of scales and stepwise passages. The woodwinds tend to destabilise the music, and the soloists tend to stabilise it. I can't describe it much better than that. It ends quietly and calmly, with the soloists in control, and in the 2nd movement the orchestra is completely silent. It's just the solo violin and viola. It's very intimate and meditative, and the liner notes suggest it's even quite Romantic by Holmboe's standards which isn't unreasonable.

The finale begins with a brass fanfare, and then the soloists (particularly the violin) launch into some fiddling! This movement is rather more folk/dance-like. There's some use of glissandi.

All in all it's interesting, but at this stage I haven't warmed to it as much as most in the numbered series thus far.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on December 31, 2015, 04:29:09 PM
Concerning the old LP recording of the Suono da Bardo piano suite, and Orfeo´s discography project - here´s a photo of the cover.

IMO, Blyme´s playing is even more engaged than in the later CD version, and adds more mysticism to the quieter sections. The sound, however, is not particularly good.


Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 31, 2015, 04:45:41 PM
Concerning the old LP recording of the Suono da Bardo piano suite, and Orfeo´s discography project - here´s a photo of the cover.

IMO, Blyme´s playing is even more engaged than in the later CD version, and adds more mysticism to the quieter sections. The sound, however, is not particularly good.

Thank you!!

Duly adding image to the discography now!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 01, 2016, 04:21:18 PM
Well, the 4th in this set of concertos Holmboe wrote in quick succession is Concerto No.10 (op.40), another concerto for orchestra subtitled 'Træ-messing-tarm' (Wood-Brass-Gut)



Sorry, that picture of volume 4 of the Da Capo series is rather awful.

This is a slightly curious one in one respect. It sounds like a theme and variations - in fact it sounds very much like the same concept as the 2nd movement of Concerto No.8 - but it's not presented as a theme and variations by Holmboe. It's presented as an "Introduction" followed by 8 fairly brief numbered movements. The total length is around 18 to 20 minutes depending on the recording.

The liner notes for Da Capo hint that maybe this is Holmboe in the early stages of his 'metamorphosis' technique. Perhaps. Or perhaps he didn't want to call an entire piece, as opposed to a movement, a theme and variations. The original theme is detectable quite often, and this is a relatively straightforward piece to listen to with clear, direct lines. It's also highly enjoyable. Some of the transitions from one movement to the next are particularly delightful, such as when one ends with a bold orchestral figure and the next begins with a solo violin imitating the same.

In terms of the recordings, they're both decent but this time I think BIS is the winner. In this work the slight extra punch and dynamism (sometimes from speed, sometimes just from recording quality) gives them the edge in places where the music is bold and rhythmic. And this time I don't find that Da Capo compensates with greater atmosphere in the slow music. Having said that, the differences between the 2 recordings aren't all that great.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 03, 2016, 04:10:33 PM
Over at the Art Music Forum someone has posted a radio broadcast of Holmboe's 5th Symphony (a good performance, but the recording has distortion in the loud passages). This set me thinking whether I shouldn't be monitoring Danish radio for broadcasts of Holmboe's music.

This would only work for me if there is a dedicated classical music station in Denmark which plays a reasonable amount of Holmboe and which has the facility to listen to the programs via Internet streaming after the broadcast, oh, and a convenient schedule document so I could skim quickly through a week's scheduling.

I suspect that one or other of these elements may be lacking, but would appreciate advice as it may be difficult for me to wade through Danish language pages unassisted.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 04, 2016, 12:31:03 AM
Over at the Art Music Forum someone has posted a radio broadcast of Holmboe's 5th Symphony (a good performance, but the recording has distortion in the loud passages). This set me thinking whether I shouldn't be monitoring Danish radio for broadcasts of Holmboe's music.

This would only work for me if there is a dedicated classical music station in Denmark which plays a reasonable amount of Holmboe and which has the facility to listen to the programs via Internet streaming after the broadcast, oh, and a convenient schedule document so I could skim quickly through a week's scheduling.

I suspect that one or other of these elements may be lacking, but would appreciate advice as it may be difficult for me to wade through Danish language pages unassisted.

A Google challenge if ever there was one. The Danish national broadcaster's classical station is P2.  Wikipedia article is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DR_P2

The DR website appears to have playlists for all the stations. This morning's playlist for P2 is here: http://www.dr.dk/playlister/p2/2016-1-4  I can't yet find you a simple straightforward link that will always work... I mean, I can find myself one, but that's because I've been learning Danish.

EDIT: I believe this should open up the radio station directly: http://www.dr.dk/radio/live/p2/  and will give you the short-term playlist of what is being played and has been played. But no use for planning ahead. I, on the other hand, may well start listening to Danish radio just to practise hearing the language.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on January 04, 2016, 12:50:39 AM
In addition, this link leads to a broadcast by France Musique of Danish music. The first music to be heard is Holmboe's clarinet concerto; just the recording by Fröst though. The broadcast will be available for some time.

http://www.francemusique.fr/emission/france-musique-la-nuit-l-heure-bleue/2014-2015/equipee-danoise-03-18-2015-05-00
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 05, 2016, 05:12:32 AM
Move forward just a couple of years to get to Concerto No.11 (op.44) for trumpet.

This appears to be one of Holmboe's more popular works (arguably in keeping with the general quality/reputation of his writing for brass). There have been at least 4 recordings, which is a veritable feast by this composer's standards. I have the "usual" two.




I find it a genuinely interesting work. The orchestration is highly effective, just strings apart from 2 horns that are sparingly used and come across as distant echoes of the trumpet soloist. There's less of the "folk music" style in this piece compared to the earlier concertos. A shift is definitely occurring.

There are 3 movements, though the concerto is one of the shorter ones in the series. The first movement starts with a largo introduction, switches to an allegro just before the trumpet's entry*, but later on it winds right back to largo again. That central allegro is marvellously dynamic, full of shifting rhythmic pulses and a real sense of flow and motion. When it slows down again, the music is completely transformed.

After that is a fairly brief poco lento movement, which doesn't actually feel slow after the close of the 1st movement. The finale is allegretto, ma vivace, and starts off sounding like a bit like a scherzo with the trumpet contributing short and sharp accents as the strings scurry. But then, as the trumpet starts piecing together longer strands of music, a surprisingly grand and soaring melody ends up emerging.

In terms of the BIS and Da Capo recordings, I really don't have much of a preference. There are places where the slightly leaner, edgier sound of the Da Capo seems more suitable than the smoother BIS sound with a more heroic trumpet, but then at certain points the BIS flares with drama that the more recessed sonics on Da Capo can't quite match.

As much as anything it's a function of how the soloist is placed. You get slightly more trumpet on BIS, you get slightly more strings on Da Capo. But I think they both work and I'm inclined to call my first draw. I don't think you'd be let down by either version. I've certainly enjoyed both a lot over the last couple of days.


* The recordings can't actually agree whether the allegro is con fuoco or con forza, which turns out to be because the published score can't even agree with itself!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 05, 2016, 12:45:56 PM
I haven't had a chance to follow the link that Orfeo posted to Danish Radio, however a thought about Holmboe on the radio occurred to me. I've been following BBC Radio 3 for about a year now and have been listening to pieces that interest me, and I have made some recordings of non-copyright performances off the streaming audio which I have posted to the Art Music Forum.

I have to say that BBC Radio, whilst being streets ahead of the awful Australian Classic FM channel*, isn't that great and there often aren't any programmes I want to listen to in a week. They (Radio 3) are having at the moment a series called Northern Lights, focusing on Scandinavian composers. Whilst featuring much Sibelius, Nielsen, and earlier and more recent Scandinavian composers, I can't think of a single Holmboe work they have featured.... inexplicable, and annoying.

* musical schmaltz of all ages in five minute chunks with presenters who don't know anything about music and sound like smarmy 15 years olds addressing elderly Alzheimer's sufferers.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 06, 2016, 01:48:31 PM
Popping up for a non-concerto aside.

Having reached, in my chronological listening approach, the first string quartets (not "early" as Holmboe is 39 years old), I'm being struck by how different they sound even from the concertos only a short while before.

There's just something about the medium that's making everything sound more severe and intellectual. Though I think it's still possible to make a connection to the 6th symphony and that last concerto for trumpet, all of the more explicit 'folk' and dance-like elements from before that feel quite distant.

I find myself intensely curious as to whether it's just a string quartet thing - whether, when I reach symphony no.7 and concerto no.12, I'll feel in any way that I've gone back to more familiar territory. From what I can remember of the symphony off the top of my head, I suspect not.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 10, 2016, 06:45:40 PM
I've been listening to the Chamber Concerto 13, for viola and oboe, which I think is my favourite of the series.

I had a thought though, this concerto is very far from being Neo-baroque, but a few moments in it remind me of Bach's BWV 1060 (concerto for two harpsichords, reconstructed as a violin and oboe concerto). My question is when did this reconstruction start being played and would Holmboe have been likely to have heard it and been influenced by it?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 11, 2016, 01:11:39 AM
I've been listening to the Chamber Concerto 13, for viola and oboe, which I think is my favourite of the series.

Spoilers! I'm 5 years away from no.13.

Quote
I had a thought though, this concerto is very far from being Neo-baroque, but a few moments in it remind me of Bach's BWV 1060 (concerto for two harpsichords, reconstructed as a violin and oboe concerto). My question is when did this reconstruction start being played and would Holmboe have been likely to have heard it and been influenced by it?

A couple of bits of googling suggests that BWV 1060R, as it's known, dates from 1921.  Another bit of googling suggests 1970, but then it's perfectly possible there may actually have been more than one reconstruction and these are talking about different ones.

Minor detail, the Bach is violin/oboe, the Holmboe is viola/oboe. Also a violin/oboe combination is not unique to Bach.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 11, 2016, 04:42:56 AM
Concerto No.12 (op.52) is for trombone. There have been at least 3 recordings of this one. The 2 that I own are the same discs as for the trumpet concerto above. BIS (Christian Lindberg soloist) and Da Capo (Jacques Mauger soloist).



The 3rd recording I know about is also on Da Capo, with Jesper Juul as soloist.**

There are some interesting features of this one. First of all, the two recordings can't actually agree how many movements there are! Da Capo says there are 3, but (after discovering the score is viewable online) I think BIS is closer to the mark when they say there's technically 1, but with a rather strong 3-movement feel. Basically, in the score the "movements" are connected only by the solo trombone while there's a general pause.

Another interesting feature is that this is the only one of the series of numbered concertos for which Holmboe left space for a cadenza. Lindberg uses a slightly truncated version of the cadenza written by the original soloist (Traulsen), whereas Mauger uses one composed by Per Nørgård, which has some fancy harmonics in it.

It's also perhaps worth mentioning that this is one of the works that demonstrates why Holmboe shifted from calling these "chamber concertos" to just "concertos" - a shift that the Da Capo recording series doesn't reflect. The liner notes helpfully inform you that this "chamber concerto" is for a full orchestra including percussion!

The 1st "movement" is, according to those liner notes, in an arch form ABCBA, but I have to admit I don't hear it, especially not when the music slows down significantly for the latter part of the movement after being allegro moderato in the first half. To me it feels like a continuous unfolding, with a bright and bustling start, which winds down as it runs out of energy. The basic pulse is 3/4 but with plenty of cross-currents. On Da Capo, this is strongly rhythmic, whereas on BIS the mood is slightly grander, a little stately.

The opening of the 2nd "movement" is a really lovely string passage that gradually swells, and the music is rather romantic-sounding by Holmboe's standards.

The 3rd "movement" mostly has a 5/4 pulse, which breaks up for the cadenza, quietly restarts after that, and then the music starts accelerating just a little. The mood is quite bright and cheery.

In terms of which recording I prefer, well... I did have to think about it a bit. I think both performances convey the charm of this music pretty well. The 1st movement is arguably more invigorating on Da Capo, whereas the BIS performance really makes the most of the 2nd movement and has more sparkle in the 3rd. So, I'll say BIS is my pick, but neither will disappoint. I'd rate this composition as good as any in the series.

** The only thing I'll say about the 3rd recording is that it appears from the timings the 2nd movement is taken quite slowly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 11, 2016, 05:19:13 AM
As that's the last time there's a choice in the series, I thought I'd summarise my preferences - and of course they're my preferences only. This is for my convenience as much as anyone else's.

No.1 - prefer BIS recording
No.2 - Da Capo is only choice
No.3 - prefer Da Capo recording
No.4 - Da Capo is only choice
No.5 - Da Capo is only choice
No.6 - Da Capo is only choice
No.7 - prefer BIS recording
No.8 - prefer Da Capo recording
No.9 - Da Capo is only choice*
No.10 - prefer BIS recording
No.11 - draw*
No.12 - prefer BIS recording*
No.13 - Da Capo is only choice


* Means other recordings exist besides the two series I've been comparing.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on January 11, 2016, 12:08:12 PM
This is for my convenience as much as anyone else's.

Quoted slightly out of context  ;), but thanks for the comparisons and writings. Very helpful and a pleasure to read.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 13, 2016, 12:04:59 PM
I really liked doing that write-up of the Tubin cycle, even if didn't always like the actual music. So, here we go again.

These are the Holmboe symphonies I've heard before: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Concerto for Orchestra. This one's familiar to me too. It's a very, very early work, and can't be taken as "vintage Holmboe". But, in a 13-minute span, he really does cycle through everybody in the orchestra, with the brassy fanfares at the start, a slow passage relying on solo woodwinds, big ol' timpani rolls, and an ending that hearkens back to the start. Hard to pin down what the musical language is, or who it resembles. It's conservative, for 1929, certainly. Maybe you could compare to Nielsen, early (Firebird) Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky even.

Symphony No. 1. This is so short and so "light" that it almost ends before you have time to collect thoughts. It's not light as in waltzy - more like one great big scherzo, rhythmically propulsive and buoyant, with generous but not excessive percussion. (Chamber orchestra scoring.) A bassoon solo to kick off the slow movement makes you briefly wonder if there will be an excursion to the world of Sibelian legend, but not so. This is splashier, more optimistic music than you'll find in the Tubin box, but it feels more like an appetizer than a proper symphony.

Symphony No. 2. The opening is like getting doused with an Ice Bucket Challenge: a shock series of chords, like Nielsen's Third plus cymbal crashes. Then the ideas start coming, and although I find some of them banal or humdrum, there are just so darn many of them that the piece flows forward anyway. Great climax with snare drum towards the end of the first movement, though I love the calming coda most of all, with a flow of strings-only melody that brings to mind Shostakovich in his more conservative, melancholy moods.

The second movement, "Lamentazione" (each of these has an Italian title), is extraordinary. It is an elegy, with a brief percussive climax at the end that I wasn't wild about but otherwise supremely atmospheric and beautifully scored. Surely, Holmboe is in full command of orchestral sound. The brief finale is loud and bombastic, though - not a great transition, although the last 30 seconds are f'in' awesome. Going forward, I really like the fact that Holmboe knows how to pull off a good ending.

Chamber Concertos Nos. 1 (piano), 2 (flute and violin), and 3 (EDIT: forgot to add here: clarinet). These are with a smaller orchestra, and with smaller ambitions too. I wasn't too keen on No. 1, although it's bold to open with a 20-minute slow movement. No. 2, with its flute-violin-celesta (!) interplay, has a graceful quality that reminds me of the smaller Martinu concertos. It's not quite as catchy or jovial as, say, the Martinu concerto for two violins, but I found it a very enjoyable, stimulating listen.

By the way, at this point I should note that I'm trying to go in something like chronological order. This is aided by the Wikipedia list:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe
I am ALSO going through every page of this thread, and have discovered that the Wikipedia list is the work of our very own orfeo! (orfeo may be the world's leading expert on Vagn Holmboe.)

Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia rustica." What a major leap forward. This is extremely good stuff. Two cheery, chipper outer movements, bursting with "alla rustica" folk dancing, bookend a powerful, solemn set of variations on a slow, somewhat mournful theme. The effect is much like a funeral march, in fact. And you could say that this symphony has a connection, in its stark pairing of the funereal and the rustic/celebratory, with Dvorak's Third Symphony. Brilliant scoring (the trumpets at 10:50 in the slow movement...). Also: remember the clumsy lament-finale transition in Symphony No. 2? Holmboe fixes the problem this time, beginning his finale quietly. In fact, there's a bit of a parallel with the transition out of the funeral march in Beethoven's Third!

Now, I guess I should say that, like Tubin, Holmboe is not writing the catchiest tunes in the universe (aside from one played in this symphony's finale by the piccolo). But he knows how to develop them, how to make them evolve - he has a much firmer sense of structure and argument and narrative.

It's possible to imagine a more sharply-conducted performance of this symphony. Owain Arwel Hughes is a fourth-rate conductor in mainstream repertoire, but so far, he's doing an adequate job letting the music speak for itself.

Symphony No. 4, "Sacra." Wow, this is a martial first movement, reminds me of the Soviets - feels like the insistent timpani beat is driving this movement forward. That motif is carried over, in a variant form, to the adagio movement - an example of Holmboe learning how to be economic with material. As orfeo wrote: "What I love about Holmboe is that flow, from one movement to another and across a whole work." Yes - the timpani are still leading the way to the serene ending, a rather remarkable symphonic journey. Having said that, I'm not really convinced by all the choral bits here. Musically this is a strong, super-impressive conception for a symphony, but the use that framework has been put to is kinda weird.

The Ill-Tempered Turk. This is probably minor Holmboe, but as a Turkish person, I obviously needed to hear it. There aren't any "exotica" or "Turkisms" here, so it doesn't really sound Turkish. (The final dance does have a Scottish bagpipe imitation, though.) But there is a slight influence of being Ill-Tempered - or at least, the music isn't fun like a Khachaturian score might be. You get the general sense, here, that being surrounded by Turks is a slightly alarming state to be in.

More to follow...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 13, 2016, 12:11:19 PM
Delighted to read your play-by-play, Brian.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 13, 2016, 12:27:18 PM
BTW I must add that orfeo's notes earlier in the thread are an absolutely essential guide for me, too. And, of course, his work on Wikipedia.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 13, 2016, 12:33:58 PM
BTW I must add that orfeo's notes earlier in the thread are an absolutely essential guide for me, too. And, of course, his work on Wikipedia.

Aye, I do not mean to slight at all the considerable work our orfeo does, here and elsewhere!

Symphony No. 4, "Sacra." Wow, this is a martial first movement, reminds me of the Soviets - feels like the insistent timpani beat is driving this movement forward. That motif is carried over, in a variant form, to the adagio movement - an example of Holmboe learning how to be economic with material. As orfeo wrote: "What I love about Holmboe is that flow, from one movement to another and across a whole work." Yes - the timpani are still leading the way to the serene ending, a rather remarkable symphonic journey. Having said that, I'm not really convinced by all the choral bits here. Musically this is a strong, super-impressive conception for a symphony, but the use that framework has been put to is kinda weird.

These notes would have had interesting resonance in the cannot cope thread:

Quote from: Knud Ketting
The symphony is dedicated to the memory of the composer’s younger brother, Ebbe Holmboe, who died in the German concentration camp Porta Westphalica in December 1944, aged only 22.  Its six movements are based on texts by Holmboe himself, translated into Latin by Poul Johannes Jensen.  It would be accurate to identify Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (1930) as a source of inspiration.  We should not doubt that Holmboe knew and treasured that work:  this is clearly evident fomr his excellent, perceptive analysis of it, published in the periodical Levende Musik (Living Music) in 1943.  His words about Stravinsky describe his own symphony equally well:

‘For a modern composer it is natural that music cannot describe emotion and its manner, or in other words:  emotion is not the purpose.  One can, however, say that emotion is the driving force, the reason why composers express themselves in the material with which they feel at home:  music.  This emotion-based cause, of whatever kind it may be, can be of no significance for the listener when he is dealing with the work of art.  That must be able to stand alone, with neither explanation nor justification, like a synthesis of emotional tension, compositional power and technical mastery.’

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 13, 2016, 12:38:18 PM

These notes would have had interesting resonance in the cannot cope thread:
Thank you so much! 1. What an excellent quotation from the composer; 2. The background there would have been awfully useful for me to know before listening to the symphony. Pity NML does not have the booklet PDFs posted.

Holmboe was, beyond being a good composer, a very self-aware composer who explained his artistic process in an illuminating way.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: amw on January 13, 2016, 12:54:00 PM
Thank you so much! 1. What an excellent quotation from the composer; 2. The background there would have been awfully useful for me to know before listening to the symphony. Pity NML does not have the booklet PDFs posted.
I think you can get the booklets of BIS releases for free from eClassical, as a rule. And Dacapo might supply partial notes on their website (dacapo-records.dk, iirc) though they don't do PDFs as far as I know.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 13, 2016, 01:34:40 PM
Aye, I do not mean to slight at all the considerable work our orfeo does, here and elsewhere!

Not feeling at all slighted. If anything, it's extremely interesting to read another person's reactions.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 13, 2016, 01:36:36 PM
(orfeo may be the world's leading expert on Vagn Holmboe.)

I prefer the term "scarily obsessed amateur".

PS If you have access to all the BIS and Da Capo recordings, as seems may be the case, you could be here for a fair while. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 13, 2016, 02:55:38 PM
Chamber Concerto No. 4 (for viola). This one really didn't do too much for me, so I've decided to suspend my Chamber Concerto adventures until orfeo can suggest which ones might be the best starting points. I'm familiar with No. 12 (for trombone) and have heard that No. 11 (for trumpet) is pretty great, so will return for those. In the meantime...

Symphony No. 5. orfeo is right, this is a very rhythm-driven symphony, and although the first movement takes a while to connect with me, the last 2 minutes are just awe-inspiring - extraordinary. Could bear comparison to Shostakovich 7 and 8, in terms of the sheer power being built up. The orchestra is really being tested, however. How great it would be to hear, say, LPO/V. Jurowski in this passage! The slow movement is a step up again, with Holmboe here approaching the raw elemental power of the best Nielsen. Actually, there are bits that sound a bit like military music from TV/movies - though not Holmboe's fault, as he got there first. The finale returns to those hard-driving rhythms, and this is probably the most "challenging" Holmboe piece I've heard yet. Or, at any rate, the most aloof.

Symphony No. 6. Something unusual happened when I was listening to this one. I got caught up in working while listening, and 6 minutes in, the music got so interesting I rewound back to the start and started over.

The beginning is actually not that promising. But, again, Holmboe sets out a rhythmic motif and begins to weave stuff around it, leading in a fairly straightish line to the big climax around 10 minutes in. The first movement ends with another adagio episode. Unfortunately, at 13:30ish, I got called away to a 15-minute meeting. Will need to listen again, to really have a chance with this.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 13, 2016, 06:43:15 PM
Chamber Concerto No. 4 (for viola). This one really didn't do too much for me, so I've decided to suspend my Chamber Concerto adventures until orfeo can suggest which ones might be the best starting points.

Erm, now I'm wondering which one you listened to, because No.4 is for piano trio, and No.5 is for viola... No.4 is pretty light, I do enjoy it but it's not a major piece. Whereas I think No.5 is excellent, the slow movement is really powerful.

Recommendations: Well, you've already done No.2 (flute/violin). I'd say No.5 (viola) and No.6 (violin) if in fact you didn't already do No.5.

No.8 (sinfonia concertante) is very good if you're using the Da Capo set. Nos 11 and 12 yes... and I'd better say No.13 (oboe/viola) even though I haven't got to it again recently, I kind of remember feeling positive about it, calyptorhynchus recommends it and I imagine it would actually be stylistically rather distinct from the others.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: amw on January 14, 2016, 03:27:23 AM
Symphony No. 6. Something unusual happened when I was listening to this one. I got caught up in working while listening, and 6 minutes in, the music got so interesting I rewound back to the start and started over.
This one was probably my favourite before the last three. I'll need to listen to it again to remember why, though. Hmm.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 14, 2016, 07:18:44 AM
Erm, now I'm wondering which one you listened to, because No.4 is for piano trio, and No.5 is for viola... No.4 is pretty light, I do enjoy it but it's not a major piece. Whereas I think No.5 is excellent, the slow movement is really powerful.

Recommendations: Well, you've already done No.2 (flute/violin). I'd say No.5 (viola) and No.6 (violin) if in fact you didn't already do No.5.

No.8 (sinfonia concertante) is very good if you're using the Da Capo set. Nos 11 and 12 yes... and I'd better say No.13 (oboe/viola) even though I haven't got to it again recently, I kind of remember feeling positive about it, calyptorhynchus recommends it and I imagine it would actually be stylistically rather distinct from the others.
Thanks for these picks. Will be delving into some today. It was No. 5, by the way - forgot that I had passed over No. 4.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 14, 2016, 07:34:53 AM
I like the Symphony № 7 a great deal, but I have to question the premise that it is a symphony in one movement; in the first place because the close of the Presto certainly feels like An Ending; and in the second, because the composer himself designates the Intermedi I, II & III — if that does not break the grand structure up into discrete movements, I don't know how one would do so any clearer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 14, 2016, 07:35:20 AM
Excellent piece, though!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on January 14, 2016, 10:56:24 AM
Symphony No. 6. Do-over! The beginning - with a spotlight shining on the violas - is mysterious - maybe like walking in the fog. The music is built up slowly and carefully, instruments added to the mix when the time is right. The tempo change to allegro is a little more abrupt, but the mind easily adjusts. This time, I'm more impressed by the gigantic arc that this first movement is, partly because I didn't get interrupted. And while we usually mean "arc" in a metaphorical sense, here it's more geometric. You know...like a parenthesis ( . Purely in terms of "when it's loud and when it's quiet", this movement is like the first of Shostakovich's Tenth. Now, on a second listen, I recognize that right after the climax, around 13:30, the violas start to play a major role again, in bringing this movement back to where it started.

The finale is stranger - structurally, it's a bit like a Bruckner finale, but tonally more Shosty-like (xylophone! snare drum!), and in general quite dramatic. You can imagine another conductor putting in a bit more 'fuoco'. This is a harder nut to crack, but man, that ending with the strings fading away - brilliant touch.

Trumpet Concerto (Chamber Concerto No. 11). Dave Hurwitz has called this the best trumpet concerto since Haydn's, and I'm not familiar enough with the repertoire to disagree. (Does Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto count? Probably not.) It certainly is extremely good, one of the best pieces I've heard yet. Rarely for a concerto, there are quite a few slow passages. Someone earlier in this thread commented on how a Holmboe piece seems to be reaching some kind of tonality-destination, and this piece illuminates what they were talking about, with the sudden but exquisitely prepared-for major-key landing at the end. This might be a "light" piece but it's a very, very good one. (BTW: I listened to Hardenberger's version on BIS. We're lucky that the BIS and Dacapo recordings both feature some of the world's very greatest trumpet soloists, and to have Christian Lindberg for the Trombone Concerto is the definition of luxury, too.)

String Quartet No. 2. Using the awesome notes taken by both orfeo and kentel (a former GMGer I never had the pleasure of talking to), I am going to dip into the string quartets selectively, just going by what sounds most to my taste. kentel wrote that this one is "softly disonnant, more vivid than the previous one, a little bit Prokofiew-like". I find the first and last parts remarkably accurate, and you might also draw a comparison with Pavel Haas, the Czech composer whose 1930s and 1940s quartets showed a flair for combining folk inspiration, modern rhythmic emphasis, soft dissonance, lots of trills, and a lyrical voice. I will definitely continue to explore the quartets. This one is very good.

Symphony No. 7. Karl wrote a couple posts about this symphony while I was writing this one. I actually like the first two interludes - they complement the preceding material and sort of comment on it, bringing about a logical transition to the next material. The exception is, as Karl says, the Presto. That does end very final-ly, although again, the intermedio which follows is a direct commentary/variation on the melodic material. I would organize the symphony like this:

I. Allegro con fuoco - andantino -
II. Adagio - andantino -
III. Presto
IV. Andantino - Andante

For, as a multi-movement piece, this holds up just fine. And it is a very good symphony, as Karl says. The adagio, with its fugal hints, is a highlight, and the presto is kind of like a Mendelssohn scherzo dragged forward 120 years and exposed to terrors Felix didn't know. (The work dates from 1950.)

Trombone Concerto (Chamber Concerto No. 12). I think I might like this more than the Trumpet Concerto, but in structure and tone, they are very similar pieces. This is my third listen to the work, which probably makes it the one I'm most familiar with. It's terrific, and over in 15 minutes. Christian Lindberg is probably (?) the best active trombone player. What more couldja want?

Chamber Symphony No. 1. We're in 1951, and Holmboe's voice is already taking on more acerbic qualities. The scherzo is scored like you'd score a fun light peppy neo-classical piece, and the slow movement focuses on plaintive dialogue between the woodwind soloists, but the actual voice makes these moments very different from how they sound on paper. The tone is like if Alice stepped down the rabbit-hole and found a place where everything is two colors over on the color wheel.

Especially from the description of the string quartets, it seems Holmboe is often preoccupied with music of sadness, gloom, and the wistfulness of foiled expectations. That is the case here. I'm more of a happy soul, I guess (like '30s Roussel and Martinu), but I respect the craftsmanship here. Truly striking ending, as well, which seems to be trying to bust out of the "chamber" confines and enter into Big Boy Symphony territory.

Speaking of Big Boy Symphonies...

Symphony No. 8, "Boreale." First listen to this! Wow - it's like Nielsen's Third's Evil Twin. General comment: I love the way that Holmboe uses timpani in all these works, and I love the performance of the Aarhus SO timpanist in particular. This work is a powerful one, and a remarkably compact one (until the finale, though the ending more than makes up for a momentum-stalling episode earlier). I'm not ready after one listen to call this a masterpiece, but it has a strong sense of purpose and is shot through with fire and ice - in fact, being up close and personal with a glacier seems more apt than Northern Lights, descriptively. Safe to say I enjoyed this more than any of Tubin's symphonies. Just not yet ready to fall in love.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on January 14, 2016, 12:10:36 PM

Symphony No. 8, "Boreale." First listen to this! Wow - it's like Nielsen's Third's Evil Twin.

That is one of the few Holmboe works I own. I'll have to give it another listen soon.

Sarge
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 14, 2016, 01:13:20 PM
I like the Symphony № 7 a great deal, but I have to question the premise that it is a symphony in one movement; in the first place because the close of the Presto certainly feels like An Ending; and in the second, because the composer himself designates the Intermedi I, II & III — if that does not break the grand structure up into discrete movements, I don't know how one would do so any clearer.

Looking at the score online, it is presented as "1. Allegro con fuoco - intermezzo I - adagio - intermezzo II - presto - intermezzo III - coda". There is no movement "2."

There are double bar lines at the breaks but no gap in the printing. There is a marked long pause at the end of the presto (page 120), and the only people who are supposed to be playing a note on that pause are the cellos and double basses.

http://issuu.com/scoresondemand/docs/symphony_no_7_21940.pdc

It's very like the situation for the Trombone Concerto, from much the same era. It seems that Holmboe was playing with things being "in one movement" but still putting distinct markers of the joins.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 15, 2016, 05:13:33 AM
Well, here's a surprise. I've just discovered that there is a recording of the Sonata for double bass, op.82, on Youtube!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz6ZWI3H_5w

I can't find any sign that this is a commercially available recording, thought Frank Reinecke is indeed a prominent double bass player.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on January 15, 2016, 07:14:35 PM
  :)

Some odd things on YouTube, like the first movement of the Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano op 97, but apparently not the other movements.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 01, 2016, 03:41:27 PM
My Holmboe chronological listening stalled for a little bit halfway through the four main books of the choral Liber Canticorum (opp. 54, 59, 60 and 61), but I'm starting up again now, and I feel like I'm beginning to appreciate more the individual pieces in that set. Even though it does all tend to sound quite medieval, the ones with texts of praise from the Psalms are in fact distinctly happier in tone than the ones with glum texts about the pointlessness of existence from Ecclesiastes!

Right now, it's Dedique cor meum, op.60a, which as far as I know is only available in the one complete recording of all the books. It starts with this long, haunting male solo, which is sung superbly.

It's on streaming sites, so worth checking out.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 13, 2016, 04:49:06 PM
Okay okay, so I'm dominating the thread as usual, but...

Having slowed down a fair bit and spent recent weeks only with books II, III and IV of Liber Canticorum, reaching String Quartet No.4 has been a total revelation.



Partly because the very opening of the quartet absolutely sounds like a gesture from Liber Canticorum. I don't know, something about the harmony carries across that pseudo-mediaeval feel for me.

Of course, it doesn't take long before the music starts doing things that are only possible in instrumental music. But right now, however irrationally I can't help feeling like this piece has been affected by being the first fully instrumental work composed in about two years. The last one was Symphony No.8. Opuses 57 to 62 are all vocal!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on February 14, 2016, 12:45:44 PM
Okay okay, so I'm dominating the thread as usual, but...

Having slowed down a fair bit and spent recent weeks only with books II, III and IV of Liber Canticorum, reaching String Quartet No.4 has been a total revelation.



Partly because the very opening of the quartet absolutely sounds like a gesture from Liber Canticorum. I don't know, something about the harmony carries across that pseudo-mediaeval feel for me.

Of course, it doesn't take long before the music starts doing things that are only possible in instrumental music. But right now, however irrationally I can't help feeling like this piece has been affected by being the first fully instrumental work composed in about two years. The last one was Symphony No.8. Opuses 57 to 62 are all vocal!

Not that I have anything actual to contribute to this thread, but....
My copy of the SQs arrived yesterday.  Is starting with CD 1 the best way to go, or is there another jumping off point you might suggest?

Nota bene:  this won't happen immediately, since there are some other things ahead of it in the queue,  including the BIS set of VH's symphonies.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 14, 2016, 01:09:52 PM
Not that I have anything actual to contribute to this thread, but....
My copy of the SQs arrived yesterday.  Is starting with CD 1 the best way to go, or is there another jumping off point you might suggest?

Nota bene:  this won't happen immediately, since there are some other things ahead of it in the queue,  including the BIS set of VH's symphonies.

There's nothing wrong with just starting at the beginning. Going chronologically will tend to get you groups of 2 or 3 works that have something stylistically in common. It's up to you whether you'd prefer to mix it up.

I haven't listened THAT recently but I'd describe 6 to 8 as relatively avant garde, 13/14 as dreamy and delicate, and a lot of people seem to find 17 to 20 a bit difficult.

The only other thing I'd note is that to me the sound on CD1 is a tiny bit "thinner" than the others.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 14, 2016, 02:26:13 PM
 Yesterday I went through the list of VH's works (on Wikipedia). I had thought that there were lots of works unrecorded, and that is true, but most are smaller scale, vocal, piano &c works.

I found to my surprise that two CDs would probably do for the unrecorded VH I want to hear:

1. A string quintet disk with M206 Tropos and M326 String Quintet (the former has two violas, the latter two cellos).
2. A concerto disk with M286 Louisiana Concerto for Strings and M368 String Quartet Concerto

Plus it would be nice to have a disk of some of the unnumbered string quartets (VH's SQs 0, 00, 000  :) ). The numbered series starts so powerfully (and so late in VH's list of compositions) that some of the earlier ones must be worth listening to.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 15, 2016, 04:28:04 AM
It's been over a month since I wrote about a concerto. It's finally time for...

Concerto No.13 (op.67) for oboe and viola.



It's kind of worth reiterating what an outlier this last in the numbered concerto series is. Concerto no.1 was in 1939. Concertos 4 through 10 were whipped through from 1942 to 1946. Then we had 11 (1948) and 12 (1950). This last one wasn't completed until 1956, so it's a decade after most of the series.

And that's important because Holmboe's style has moved on in a big way. The strong folk influences, and the rhythmic pulse that came with them, has practically dissolved here. Often this music hovers, with one or both of the soloists weaving their way over an accompaniment that is static or, if it does move, doesn't have much sense of direction.

The 1st movement starts in this static fashion, with the viola appearing over an orchestra that gets stuck on the same ambiguous chord several times (a chord which recurs a number of times in the movement). When the oboe comes in, it seems to be doing quite different things to its companion. It's not so much that they're arguing, it's more that they happen to be performing at the same time in their own separate spheres of influence, only half-conscious of each other. Once the movement becomes more animated, traces of both can be found in the orchestra. There are times when the oboe and viola do work together, but the general impression is of music that pulses and flows in a tangled fashion. It's not chaotic, but it's hard to predict.

The 2nd movement has many of the same qualities. The orchestra supplies a single chord, and then the oboe and viola both play, often in ways that only half-acknowledge each other. It's like... two half-concertos playing at once! In the middle there's more of a sense of everything coming together, but then the orchestra starts fading out again, supplying isolated chords as the soloists carry the music, slightly more unified than when they started.

The finale starts with rapid strings and flowing woodwinds, before the oboe takes charge for a while. But it doesn't take very long at all before there's that same sense of everybody talking - oboe, viola and orchestra - and each doing a semi-independent thing. It's not dissonant, but it's very busy. The texture thins out, and then the viola takes the lead for a bit with the oboe supporting. After that, for the second half of the movement it starts feeling like just possibly everyone is trying to play the same piece at the same time and the conclusion is thoroughly orderly!

It's all very strange and I'm doing an absolutely terrible job of explaining it. But it's fascinating stuff. It's a very amorphous piece in some ways but it always feels as if the composer, at least, knows how he's shaping the material.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 22, 2016, 06:50:53 PM
Requiem for Nietzsche was last major recorded work by Holmboe I hadn’t heard. Listened to it today. My reaction:

1.       The Short Version: brilliant music, listen to it if you like listening to choral music without bothering what the words mean.
2.       The Long Version: in the CD booklet notes to the recording Holmboe expert Paul Rapoport writes very politely about the words as a parable of Nietzsche as a suffering artist and thinker. In actual fact the libretto is a poorly thought-out and poorly-informed Christian strawman argument about Nietzsche exceeding the bounds of permitted thought and being stricken with madness (at the end of Part 2 (of 5), so clearly he doesn’t get much of chance; medical biography is of the opinion that Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse in 1889 as a result of a brain tumour, not intellectual overreach). I find the libretto in quite extraordinary bad taste and think that it’s a pity that Holmboe wasted so much great music on it.

It doesn’t bother me that Holmboe was some sort of Christian (hence the Symphony No.4 and the Liber Canticorum), I’m fine with listening to those works because I understand he is writing in a particular tradition, which I understand, even if I don’t belong to. What I object to in this work is the libretto appropriating Nietzsche for Christian purposes. If you want to critique Nietzsche then by all means do it, but only in terms of his own philosophy, or the history of philosophy or sociology, not in terms of a religion he never belonged to.
One curious thing in the music is this: in the First Part Nietzsche is conflated with Faust, as pursuer of forbidden knowledge. There is a passage which refers to ‘Wagner’ and at this point in the music Holmboe introduces a theme from Tristan und Isolde. However the reference is clearly to Faust’s servant Wagner, not Richard Wagner. Rapoport explains this as the music dealing with a period in Nietzsche’s life when he wrote extensively about Wagner’s music. However, to introduce the quotation at the same moment as a reference to a different Wagner is just plain confusing.
Anyway, it has always surprised me that Holmboe’s music isn’t more widely played, but I think obscurity is a reasonable fate for this score.
 
 
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 22, 2016, 09:19:31 PM
ps if anyone wants the disk, I'll send it to them.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2016, 01:52:06 AM
I know almost nothing about Nietzsche. I can't say I got the notion of some conservative Christian "wasn't Nietzsche awful" agenda out of the libretto at all. To me the main reason there are references to God is simply because dealing with God is one of the things Nietzsche is famous for.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 23, 2016, 04:11:47 AM
Who wrote the libretto?  (I have the disc somewhere, though I am not sure I've yet listened to it . . . .)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2016, 04:29:38 AM
Who wrote the libretto?  (I have the disc somewhere, though I am not sure I've yet listened to it . . . .)

A poet named Thorkild Bjørnvig. Holmboe had worked with him on one of his cantatas (no opus number). If I understand the liner notes correctly, the text was published as poetry and not specifically as a libretto.
Title: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 23, 2016, 04:39:41 AM
Thanks.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 23, 2016, 12:40:15 PM
I know almost nothing about Nietzsche. I can't say I got the notion of some conservative Christian "wasn't Nietzsche awful" agenda out of the libretto at all. To me the main reason there are references to God is simply because dealing with God is one of the things Nietzsche is famous for.

True, but when Nietzsche was writing Christianity was the reference point for almost all western thought, he could hardly ignore it. What Nietzsche never did was take a famous Christian and say they were a bad Nietzschian; the libretto of this work says, basically, Nietzsche was a clever man but a bad one because he transgressed the boundaries of permitted thought, God smote him and his madness and all its symptoms were proof of this. I find it very Ted Cruz/Fred Nile type stuff.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on February 23, 2016, 01:00:37 PM
A poet named Thorkild Bjørnvig. Holmboe had worked with him on one of his cantatas (no opus number). If I understand the liner notes correctly, the text was published as poetry and not specifically as a libretto.

Bjørnvig´s 11 Nietzsche sonnets were published in 1959, as a part of the poetry collection "Figur og Ild / Figure and Fire". Holmboe I think worked with his piece in 1963-64.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 23, 2016, 01:12:06 PM
True, but when Nietzsche was writing Christianity was the reference point for almost all western thought, he could hardly ignore it. What Nietzsche never did was take a famous Christian and say they were a bad Nietzschian; the libretto of this work says, basically, Nietzsche was a clever man but a bad one because he transgressed the boundaries of permitted thought, God smote him and his madness and all its symptoms were proof of this. I find it very Ted Cruz/Fred Nile type stuff.

That's what I mean, I don't get that vibe from it. It would be profoundly odd to write a "requiem" (Holmboe's own title) for someone you were trying to gloat over.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 23, 2016, 07:26:33 PM
Well, I think it's offensive to write a Requiem for someone who was never a Christian, pretty much like the Mormons posthumously rebaptising people into the LDS.

The sonnet sequence reimagines Nietszche in Christian terms and appropriates him for Christianity, I find that contemptible.

Having said that I reserve the contempt for the poet, I hope that Holmboe simply got cornered into agreeing to set the words without reading them, and didn't pay very much attention to them when he was setting it. The confusion over Wagner and Wagner I mentioned earlier might be a sign of this.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2016, 01:00:55 AM
*shrug* I'm not going to continue discussing our differing reactions to the text because at the end of the day there's inevitably a subjective element to it.

I do think, though, that any suggestion that Holmboe disliked the text involves a very high degree of wishful thinking.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 02:35:17 AM
I do think, though, that any suggestion that Holmboe disliked the text involves a very high degree of wishful thinking.

Word.  Why would any composer invest the time to write an hourlong piece setting a text he didn't like?  Life is too short.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2016, 02:39:43 AM
Word.  Why would any composer invest the time to write an hourlong piece setting a text he didn't like?  Life is too short.

Well, such things might happen in, say, Stalinist Russia. But not in 1960s Denmark.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 02:47:42 AM
Well, such things might happen in, say, Stalinist Russia. But not in 1960s Denmark.

Point taken.  And it doesn't interfere at all with my finding the Prokofiev Op.74 cracking good fun.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 06:00:45 AM
Quote from: Paul Rapoport
Bjørnvig published his cycle of eleven sonnets under the simple title “Nietzsche” in his collection Figur og ild (Figure and Fire) in 1959.  He himself once suggested what may have interested Holmboe in these poems:  the endeavor to maintain one’s convictions and develop higher orders of artistic totalities and truths in a time of confusion, disruption, even despair.  The combination of the sonnets’ dispassionate formal control with their stark imagery and network of allusions might also have attracted Holmboe;  for these features, or their musical counterparts, are characteristic of so much of his music.

Bjørnvig also wrote, “In Vagn Holmboe I found the ruthless intellectual curiosity, the firsthand relationship to phenomena, the unfailing aim for the heart of problems from no matter what angle, which characterize significant artists as well as philosophers and scientists, and which are features they have in common” (DMT, vol. 45, no. 7, 1969).  Certainly Holmboe’s deep creative and human sensibility found a spiritual counterpart in Thorkild Bjørnvig.

The sonnets make vivid use of events and ideas from the life of one of the most influential German writers, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).  They create a symbolic interpretation of Nietzsche – his expectations, aspirations, discoveries, conflicts, and tragic decline.  The cycle does not tell Nietzsche’s life story, nor does it proceed straightforwardly, but rather integrates references to Nietzsche’s life into an imaginative recreation of his struggles.

From that, I get nothing like this:

Well, I think it's offensive to write a Requiem for someone who was never a Christian, pretty much like the Mormons posthumously rebaptising people into the LDS.

The sonnet sequence reimagines Nietszche in Christian terms and appropriates him for Christianity, I find that contemptible.

By the way, Nietzsche lived in a predominantly Christian society; that is history, not “reimagination.”
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2016, 06:11:22 AM
I'm about to listen to the thing as it happens. Nothing to do with this discussion, it's simply where I'm up to in my chronological listening.

It's been a bit over 9 months since my initial listen so I don't remember much of it clearly, only that I was quite taken with it. It's certainly an exceptionally large-scale work by Holmboe's standards.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 06:29:08 AM
The sonnet sequence reimagines Nietszche in Christian terms and appropriates him for Christianity, I find that contemptible.

How peculiar that the final sonnet is titled Asgaardsreien, then.  No Christian theology that I am aware of refers to Asgard . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 06:35:21 AM
There is a passage which refers to ‘Wagner’ and at this point in the music Holmboe introduces a theme from Tristan und Isolde. However the reference is clearly to Faust’s servant Wagner, not Richard Wagner. Rapoport explains this as the music dealing with a period in Nietzsche’s life when he wrote extensively about Wagner’s music. However, to introduce the quotation at the same moment as a reference to a different Wagner is just plain confusing.

I'd call it a pun, rather than just plain confusing.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 10:42:45 AM
Cross-post

Quite possibly a first listen . . .

Holmboe
Requiem for Nietzsche, Op.84 / M.219 (1963–4)


I paced this, taking breaks between tracks/Parts.  Overall, I think it excellent music, thoroughly engaging to listen to.

That said, a non-fatal quibble.  I don’t absolutely fault Holmboe for it, any more than I do Игорь Фëдорович for the comparable use in his Libera me) but each time I hear a choir speaking a text in rhythm, I think, Okay, that was kind of interesting the very first time I heard it, decades ago.  It’s a technique which IMO does not rise to the level of a legitimate reusable item.  It just makes me wonder, Gee, could the composer not think of notes here, then? (that thought crosses my mind, even though I know perfectly well that both Holmboe & Игорь Фëдорович, e.g., never lacked for excellent notes). I just get impatient for the next actually musical passage to get started.

As I say, that is a mere footnote.  I hope someday to write a choral piece as fine and substantial as this ’un;  it is certainly a piece I shall revisit from time to time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 10:48:50 AM
. . . and a gorgeous, Stravinskyan coda, by the way.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 24, 2016, 12:00:03 PM


By the way, Nietzsche lived in a predominantly Christian society; that is history, not “reimagination.”

So one who lives in a predominantly Christian society is ever allowed to be anything other than Christian? Sounds like the Spanish Inquisition to me.

It is a reimagination, a rewriting of history, to write a Requiem (=eternal rest) for someone who wrote extensively of the idea of eternal recurrence.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 12:58:16 PM


So one who lives in a predominantly Christian society is ever allowed to be anything other than Christian? Sounds like the Spanish Inquisition to me.

Your wilfully tendentious non sequiturs don't really invite discussion, do they?

If anything, your insistently hostile caricature of the composer's designating this as a "requiem" is more of an homage to those intolerant Spaniards.
Title: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 01:01:28 PM
Comparing a Danish artist in the 1960s to Torquemada? Do you even listen to yourself?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) - ah, the days of vinyl LP covers
Post by: Scion7 on February 24, 2016, 01:07:30 PM
(https://cdn.discogs.com/y0lq_th4pLdfzPmdj-oajWqP3Dc=/fit-in/600x604/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(96)/discogs-images/R-6837266-1427974244-9158.jpeg.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2016, 01:26:03 PM
*Quietly shelves proposal for Requiem honouring Gandhi, on the grounds it may deeply offend Hindus*

Some random thoughts after having another listen to this Requiem:

- I really wish that Da Capo had done 1 track per sonnet, rather than 1 track per 'Part'. There's enough of a clear change of music from one to the next to warrant it and it would have made study a little easier.

- Knowing a lot more Danish now than I did 9 months ago, I'm not totally in love with the translation. I can't read word-for-word yet, but it does irritate me a little when word/phrase order is switched for no good reason or a slightly different expression is used when the original was perfectly translatable. I don't feel that the English really changes the sense of it, but still literal is better in a musical context. The more literal the translation, the more you a reader in a different language can still understand exactly how the composer has worked.

- At one point the text refers to the gentle Nazarene's poison. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Christianity.

- I can understand Karl's dislike of rhythmic text. Some of the less rhythmic spoken text in the Requiem is amazing, though. Solhymne is a fractionally earlier Holmboe work using similar techniques.

- I still don't feel like I've got a great grasp of the work as a whole (listening without reading may be better for that), but there are very powerful passages in there. One of the ones that really struck me this time around is in Sonnet VIII - the first line as translated is "In hospital, in darkness, sounds of shots" and the music certainly evoked gunfire for me.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 24, 2016, 10:07:07 PM
Karl, you sound like a very stupid person, (you don't even recognise Monty Python references, for example), so I won't respond to any more of your posts.

Orfeo, the Nazerene's poison an opinion attributed to Nietzsche in the libretto, and, in the scheme of the sonnets, it is one more indictment amongst the others.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) - ah, the days of vinyl LP covers
Post by: ptr on February 24, 2016, 11:31:43 PM
(https://cdn.discogs.com/y0lq_th4pLdfzPmdj-oajWqP3Dc=/fit-in/600x604/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(96)/discogs-images/R-6837266-1427974244-9158.jpeg.jpg)

I have that incomplete set of string quartets on Fona LPs, the CSQ (Copehagen String Quartet) play very good, some of then even superior to the Kontra Quartet on DaCapo. Well worth to look for! (Fona is/was a chain of Record/HiFi stores in Denmark, who released a number of LPs of contemporary Danish music up till the beginning of the 80's, many very worth while to pursue if one is into Danish music)

/ptr
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 24, 2016, 11:49:24 PM
Okay, look, this is now getting into ridiculous territory where confirmation bias is running riot.

If there's something about Christianity it's bad because Nietzsche wasn't Christian. If we point out something doesn't endorse Christianity, then it's bad because the libretto is attacking Nietzsche for attacking Christianity. Fundamentally it's becoming utterly wrong in your eyes for the libretto to deal with Christianity or God in any way.

Which is ridiculous because dealing with God and Christianity is EXACTLY what Nietzsche is famous for. No one is going to write a text on Nietzsche that makes no reference to religion and focuses on the contents of his vegetable garden, for exactly the reason that no one is going to talk about Monet and not mention art or discuss Beethoven without referencing music or deafness.

You're basically upset that the text focuses on the tragic aspects of Nietzsche and are utterly determined to take it all as a Christian statement that he got what was coming to him for daring to dabble in such matters. For goodness sake it's poetry. Statements about the medical causes of brain tumours belong in medical textbooks, and to the extent that you want to deny ANY connection between mind and body you're flat out wrong anyway, and science says you're wrong.

The text is thoroughly ambiguous as to the merits or otherwise of Nietzsche's views, and quite deliberately so in my opinion as it's all about allusions and imagery. Your lashing out at anything and anyone who doesn't immediately hop on your interpretation of the whole thing as a Christian Plot is really getting excessive. Karl is not a stupid person by any stretch of the imagination. And neither are you.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 25, 2016, 12:30:08 AM
And to be clear, it's not your dislike of the libretto I have a real problem with, it's the extraordinary vehemence with which you are expressing it.

You are actually putting me in mind of a fundamentalist dogmatic preacher, far more than the subjects of your attack have done.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Jo498 on February 25, 2016, 01:35:40 AM
I cannot quote chapter and verse ;) but the "poison" is very probably a literal allusion to or quotation from Nietzsche, not slander. Roughly (and simplified), one main strain of Nietzsche's criticism of Christianity (and Judaism and Socratic preference for rather suffering wrong than doing wrong) is that this is an attitude of resentful slaves, not of archaic aristocrats (like Homerian heroes) who do as they please.

Because most of us are not strong enough such a dogma is sweet poison for most of us, because we can fault the supermen for immorality instead of celebrating their powerful, life-affirming way. And of course most of us are not meek sufferers but sly bastards and hypocrites who only use such religious or moralist doctrines to keep the "natural aristocrats" down. So the main point is not a plea for a brutal domination of the weak by the strong (although this was part of it and might have dominated the popular reception around 1900) but the hypocrisy Nietzsche sees in those religions and moral systems.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scion7 on February 25, 2016, 02:15:16 AM
The book, New Music of the Nordic Countries by John David White and Jean Christensen, ç2002 has six pages on Holmboe - interesting info.  It briefly touches on his life during WW2.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scion7 on February 25, 2016, 02:16:59 AM
Karl, you sound like a very stupid person ...

You're out of line, mate.  Way out.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 25, 2016, 02:30:02 AM
Well, passions sometimes run high.  He's mistaken, but at the end of the day, I've been called (wrongly, I hope) much worse things than stupid  8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 25, 2016, 03:27:08 AM
I cannot quote chapter and verse ;) but the "poison" is very probably a literal allusion to or quotation from Nietzsche, not slander. Roughly (and simplified), one main strain of Nietzsche's criticism of Christianity (and Judaism and Socratic preference for rather suffering wrong than doing wrong) is that this is an attitude of resentful slaves, not of archaic aristocrats (like Homerian heroes) who do as they please.

This would make sense and fits very well with the material.

Nothing in the context, as far as I can see, would indicate a stance by the poet whether it's wrong or right to describe Christianity in those terms. It's merely an allusion to Nietzsche's thoughts. Let me set out the whole relevant sonnet (in its English translation):

Quote
He saw in wind of dawn the golden dice,
the fair-haired heroes' brisk and brutal deed
before the poison of the gentle Nazarene
could penetrate the marrow of the strong.

And be perceived a danger-laden tide,
that rose and levelled every tower off.

And full of wisdom he came down with word.
He stood now in the low and sultry land.
About him suddenly was purple air.
He saw a horse's head, a painful grin
so moving, suffering and strangely near
in cool air as in a sudarium,
he put his arms around a horse. And there
that winter two in Turin were made one.

Certainly, from what you've said the first part of the sonnet contains a description of Nietzsche's views. I honestly can't see how it contains a condemnation of them.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 25, 2016, 01:22:01 PM
Orfeo

"For goodness sake it's poetry." So therefore it would be expected to be nonsense?

You mentioned as a joke "Quietly shelves plans for a requiem for Gandhi because it would offend Hindus", yes it would offend Hindus.

I really don't know where a lot of the stuff and Karl are saying comes from, not from me.

Just to put the matter as simply as I can:

1. Nietzsche was a philosopher and historian who proclaimed "God is dead" and wrote voluminously (and I think rather sillily) about Christianity, attacking it.
2. In 1889 he had a mental breakdown as a result of some organic cause, possibly a brain tumour, and thereafter was completely incapacitated.
3. In the 1950s a Danish poet writes a sequence of sonnets which narrates details from the life of Nietzsche in a framework that implies his mental collapse was a result of thinking forbidden thoughts, which dwells tastelessly on details of Nietzsche's state after his breakdown, implying that the breakdown was a result of thinking those forbidden thoughts, and purports to tell people that Nietzsche after his death rested with God (whom he had declared to be dead).
4. Holmboe then, in a huge artistic mistake, dignifies these rubbish poems with some very good music and seems to go along with the author's intent, adding the title Requiem.

My vehemence about all this is that I am aware of many musical works which are not much good because of their poor words, but I don't know of such an artistic mistake by someone whose music is otherwise so excellent. My most charitable explanation is that Holmboe's choice to set the words comes out of an unthinking, insular Danish Lutheranism (where everything is seen through the spectacles of Lutheran piety). The poet, however, I believe was motivated by malice.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: (: premont :) on February 25, 2016, 03:11:39 PM
How peculiar that the final sonnet is titled Asgaardsreien, then.  No Christian theology that I am aware of refers to Asgard . . . .

I have to shudder.  :o :o :o

Asgaardsreien  quoted from
http://www.lexabc.dk/87/asg%C3%A5rdsreien =

Nocturnal rider crowd, which according to Danish folklore riding through the air Thursday night and especially on Christmas night. Headed by Guro Rysserova (Gudrun with ponytail), originally a death goddess who dragged the dead to the underworld. A meeting with Asgardsreia considered baleful and perceived often like a death notice.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 25, 2016, 05:19:53 PM
Calyptorhyncus, your 3rd point is a matter of interpretation. You're entitled to your interpretation. However I don't think the text is anything like as clear on those matters as you seem to think it is.

You see divine judgement where I only see tragedy.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) - ah, the days of vinyl LP covers
Post by: Scion7 on February 26, 2016, 12:04:53 AM
(Fona is/was a chain of Record/HiFi stores in Denmark, who released a number of LPs of contemporary Danish music up till the beginning of the 80's, many very worth while to pursue if one is into Danish music)

/ptr

I have a few Danish-pressed Jazz LP's, but never picked up anything Classical back in the day .... today you'd have to pay the big bucks for anything like that on eBay.  :o  I see some re-issues on CD by the Copenhagen String Quartet but not these.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Jo498 on February 26, 2016, 12:42:22 AM
The sonnet above hardly supports Calyptorhynchus thesis but without all the texts it is impossible to evaluate it.
I seriously doubt on the basis of the poem in #495 above that the texts have the simplistic "chick tract style" message (struck with madness 'cause forbidden thoughts) attributed to them in his point 3.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2016, 12:57:25 AM
I shall to have to do my own translation, because then I'll own the copyright on it!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 26, 2016, 02:29:19 AM
I shall to have to do my own translation, because then I'll own the copyright on it!

Winning!  As long as you secure permission to translate the source . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2016, 02:38:47 AM
Or wait until 2075...

By the way, having tried to find something on Thorkild Bjørnvig, I found a short biography describing him as a "religious atheist" - reportedly a term he came up with to describe someone else, but the author of this biography evidently found it appropriate for Bjørnvig.

Ambiguous, then.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Jo498 on February 26, 2016, 02:45:32 AM
As I said, I cannot really imagine even a halfway serious explicitly christian reception/evaluation from the 1950s to be on such a "Chick tract" level. (That's not to say that there might be quite a bit on that level, too...).
Bjornvig rather seems to see Nietzsche as a tragic figure. Which is not hard even on a superficial level: Very obviously he was not *physically" an Achillean superman even before his mental condition became worse. And don't forget that even most Homerian superheroes are tragic figures in the end.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2016, 02:53:03 AM
Well, I think it's offensive to write a Requiem for someone who was never a Christian, pretty much like the Mormons posthumously rebaptising people into the LDS.

It's taken me days to grasp this point...

Why on earth did you ever buy the CD in the first place? It's called "Requiem for Nietzsche", you knew that was the title, and now you're declaring the very idea offensive.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 26, 2016, 04:37:07 AM
It's a terribly fuzzy point, too.

Back to the music, though:  Listening to Kairos at last.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2016, 04:45:03 AM
I'm still thinking about the Requiem because I'm still listening to the Requiem. I actually used an audio editing program to create an 11-track version rather than 5-track one. I've pulled it apart, next I'll put it all back together again.

And then finally move on to opus 85!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 26, 2016, 04:51:57 AM
I'm still thinking about the Requiem because I'm still listening to the Requiem. I actually used an audio editing program to create an 11-track version rather than 5-track one. I've pulled it apart, next I'll put it all back together again.

And then finally move on to opus 85!

I admire your order!  :)

And the Requiem for Nietzsche is a piece worth dwelling upon.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 26, 2016, 02:02:34 PM
It's taken me days to grasp this point...

Why on earth did you ever buy the CD in the first place? It's called "Requiem for Nietzsche", you knew that was the title, and now you're declaring the very idea offensive.

Hoping for a postmodern exploration of Nietszche's thought, critiquing it in terms that weren't doctrinaire Christian.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 26, 2016, 06:31:27 PM
If you think that's "doctrinaire Christian", you really haven't been anywhere near a church in a very long time indeed.

But even if it was, it's still highly bemusing for you to now being saying that a 'Requiem' is inherently wrong, when that's the title of the piece. And it's not remotely a conventional Requiem, yet you still complain about it being a Requiem... so was there actually the slightest hope that a piece called 'Requiem' was going to meet your requirements? It seems most unlikely.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on February 26, 2016, 11:01:58 PM
If you think that's "doctrinaire Christian", you really haven't been anywhere near a church in a very long time indeed.

But even if it was, it's still highly bemusing for you to now being saying that a 'Requiem' is inherently wrong, when that's the title of the piece. And it's not remotely a conventional Requiem, yet you still complain about it being a Requiem... so was there actually the slightest hope that a piece called 'Requiem' was going to meet your requirements? It seems most unlikely.

No, I haven't been near a church for 30 years, however, I do know more about Christian theology and church history than most.

"Requiem" could have been used ironically.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scion7 on February 28, 2016, 04:57:42 PM
As far as I have been able to find, very little of Holmboe's piano music has been issued.  I'd like to hear the sonatas some time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on February 28, 2016, 10:03:49 PM
As far as I have been able to find, very little of Holmboe's piano music has been issued.  I'd like to hear the sonatas some time.

Hm - sonatas? The work list doesn´t comprise any, except a sonatina, recorded by Blyme

http://www.musicsalesclassical.com/composer/works/709/27

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/May02/Holmboe_piano.htm
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) - ah, the days of vinyl LP covers
Post by: ptr on February 28, 2016, 11:11:58 PM
I have a few Danish-pressed Jazz LP's, but never picked up anything Classical back in the day .... today you'd have to pay the big bucks for anything like that on eBay.  :o  I see some re-issues on CD by the Copenhagen String Quartet but not these.

I wouldn't know about prices, never buy anything of auction sites. Have bought most of my "Fona" LP's second-hand in Copenhagen, don't think I paid more then $2-3 each, even for factory sealed ones... There used to be a Danish site who listed all the classical releases on Fona, but my 15 year old bookmark don't seem to work any more...  :-\

/ptr
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Scion7 on February 29, 2016, 01:06:06 AM
Kbd:

Scherzo, pf, 1928;
Sonata pf, 1929;
Sonata, pf, 1930;
3 suites, pf, 1930–33;
.... etc.

- The Grove
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on February 29, 2016, 01:29:00 AM
Kbd:

Scherzo, pf, 1928;
Sonata pf, 1929;
Sonata, pf, 1930;
3 suites, pf, 1930–33;
.... etc.

- The Grove

Very, very early stuff. I'm not sure how characteristic it would be. To be honest, most of the stuff that Blyme fills his disc with is not all that memorable. He's got one towering craggy work, Suono da bardo, and then the rest is rather piecemeal.

It's actually rather surprising how little piano music Holmboe wrote once he got as far as opus numbers. There's this huge list in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but then it really peters out.

What I'd like to see is someone having a go at the two works from later on, Moto austero op.88 and I venti op.99.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 07, 2016, 07:12:02 AM
The second episode of the "P2 Koncerten" podcast (originally aired back on 9 April 2013) is all about the "Holmboe in Horsens" music festival.

I'm listening both for the music and for some Danish practice. And while my Danish is rudimentary, I swear, halfway through the episode they are interviewing Vagn Holmboe's son.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 20, 2016, 02:54:46 AM
A couple of hours ago, I came across not one but two previously unknown Holmboe recordings. One of them large.

So into the discography they go: http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/new-faroese-discoveries.html

For fans of choral music in Faroese!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 23, 2016, 06:58:54 AM
Hi there,

Remember when I said I was going to look at all the Holmboe concertos? Well, sorry about the delay, but it's nothing compared to the 18 or 19 years it took for Holmboe to write another one!

The Cello Concerto turned up in 1974.



The rather interesting thing about the only recording is that it coincided with the premiere in late 1975 - there are some extraneous noises that suggest this actually comes from the premiere and another performance the following day. Holmboe revised the concerto in 1979, so there isn't yet a recording of the revised version. The recording is not quite up to the best modern standards in my opinion, and I do feel it affects my enjoyment of the piece a little.

The long gap since the last concerto (the 13th and last in the numbered series) is significant, because we've entirely skipped one of the phases of Holmboe's musical development. There aren't any concertos from the relatively experimental period in the 1960s. Now, in the 1970s, he's arguably gone back to something a bit more similar to what he was doing a couple of decades earlier, but with a bit more lyricism and often a more translucent orchestral texture.

The piece itself is continuous, but there are a number of distinct tempo sections/movements: according to BIS it goes Moderato - Andante - Vivace - Tempo giusto - Vivace, though having seen the score there are tempo shifts within some of those main sections.

The orchestra starts with a strong 2-note downward motif that recurs at various points. The cello develops slightly more chromatic, sliding lines. After the opening exchanges there's a 5-note orchestral figure (rising until the last note falls) that also turns up quite a few times. For example, the 5-note figure turns up repeatedly towards the end of the "Andante", and then the 2-note figure returns with gusto for the "Vivace". There are some other repeating features as well.

What really jumps out is the strange turn the structure takes for the last third of the piece. There's an extensive purely orchestral section, with the grandest climax in the work, built around the 5-note figure, and then when the cello returns it completely takes over. The orchestra offers a couple of chords in answer to the cello's first phrase, falls silent for almost 5 minutes, returns near the very end to recall the opening 2-note motif and then lets the cello have the last say.

As much as I enjoy the solo, it does make the piece as a whole feel a little oddly balanced to me. I should emphasise, though, that I enjoyed the work a lot more once I paid closer attention to what was going on and the recurring motifs (including the ways the cello solo recalls a number of previous passages). It helped immensely in grasping the piece. Before that it felt a little aimless.

I do wonder, though, how much the recording has to do with that, and whether the piece would have a stronger musical profile if it was recorded as well as the later violin and viola concertos have been.

So, overall I have slightly mixed feelings about this one, but like so much Holmboe it did reward me more once I had more of a sense of the structure and I intend to get to know it better.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 24, 2016, 04:01:36 PM
Holmboe moved on so fast from the Cello Concerto that it's premiere was beaten by the premiere of the Recorder Concerto, op.122, written for the great Danish recorder virtuoso, Michala Petri, who was only a teenager at the time.



More specifically, the concerto is for recorder, strings, celesta and vibraphone. Which is fairly crucial. The music and structure of the concerto is relatively conventional, and finds Holmboe in a fairly neoclassical mood, but the sound world is very distinctive. The recorder, celesta and vibraphone create an eerie fairytale quality to the music.

As to what I think of that sound world and the piece... well it turns out that depends a great deal on the performance. I own the BIS recording with Dan Laurin, but took the opportunity to stream Petri's version, and I think Petri is clearly superior. The 1st movement Allegro inocente showcases the difference the most, with Petri and her accompaniment far crisper and with less wobble in her tone. She takes the 2nd movement faster (again, this means considerably less wobble and a greater flow to the music). The 3rd movement has less difference, but even here, Petri has more sparkle and manages to make the passage where the soloist must sing through their instrument more effective.

I did actually like the BIS recording a little more after I'd heard Petri's version and understood what the piece could sound like. It's not bad as such, but compared side-by-side I feel the recording by Petri has no drawbacks.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 25, 2016, 04:29:39 AM
More specifically, the concerto is for recorder, strings, celesta and vibraphone. Which is fairly crucial. The music and structure of the concerto is relatively conventional, and finds Holmboe in a fairly neoclassical mood, but the sound world is very distinctive. The recorder, celesta and vibraphone create an eerie fairytale quality to the music.

Very nice scoring!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 25, 2016, 06:32:41 AM
Very nice scoring!

The effect being a unique sound world that is most convincingly created by the Michala Petri / Okko Kamu recording, as Orfeo points out correctly. A magic recording that has been a personal favourite for long.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 25, 2016, 04:38:11 PM
The burst of concerto-writing activity continued about a year later, with Flute Concerto No.1, op.126 composed in 1975-6.



Though at the beginning, you might be forgiven for thinking you've accidentally stumbled into an oboe concerto. After a two-chord orchestral beginning (which, as with the cello concerto and many other Holmboe pieces, has a tendency to recur), it's the oboe that takes the lead and it takes a while to register that the flute has taken over. The two instruments are often in dialogue in the 1st movement, which is bright and crisp, and in general Holmboe weaves the soloist through the orchestral texture.

In the 2nd movement, the magical low registers of the alto flute are very much to the fore after a 2.5 minute introduction. This time it's the clarinet that gets some pieces of dialogue with the soloist.

The 3rd movmenet starts with bold brass statements in a slow tempo, then picks up a bit of speed for the flute's entry. Both the oboe and clarinet have a go at combining their lines with the flute, before the brass return and slow the music down again. There's a tendency to long, wandering horizontal lines in the music, and it's rather different in mood from what I would expect from the finale of a concerto. About two-thirds of the way through there's finally something of a breakthrough and the pace picks up again, but there's still a darker tone than there was in the 1st movement. The flute continues to dominate after its cadenza, though the piece ends with one firm, slightly ambiguous orchestral chord.

It's an effective piece. It seems it's going to be fairly conventional until that finale, but all of it is engaging. And this, the only recording, seems fit for purpose!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Rons_talking on March 26, 2016, 01:18:37 PM
I found this today:



These pieces are of a different sound-world of the composer's. VH uses the strings in a manner similar to Bartok in Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste with lengthy expansion of his motivic material. It is right on the border of tonality with few sections that are purely diatonic, yet amid all the chromaticism there is a kind of resolving harmonic event. In other words, it's more like Bartok, Hindemith and Malipiero rather than Sessions or Boulez.
Moving stuff...
(It his Kiaro, Sinfonias 1-4)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 26, 2016, 02:03:20 PM
It was raining concertos in the mid-70s: cello, recorder, flute and now the Tuba Concerto, op.127



This one tends to leave favourable memories. The length might have something to do with it (only 16.5 minutes, a single continuous movement with a number of distinct sections), but it's mostly the sheer interest of the solo instrument. Initially the pace is steady and the tone is melancholy and a little dark. Later on, though, there's some quite rapid playing and interesting effects like singing through the instrument. There's some delicate moments, and also some full-on blaring.

It really does come across as a showcase, designed to display all the things a tuba can do.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 26, 2016, 03:14:55 PM
It really does come across as a showcase, designed to display all the things a tuba can do.
Like (http://www.writingfordesigners.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/TUBA-Missile.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 26, 2016, 03:52:01 PM
All the musical things a tuba can do.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 26, 2016, 11:16:11 PM
1977 produced another two concertante works. First, the unrecorded Louisiana Concerto, op.131, which I've now realised thanks to a bit of googling was written for the new concert hall at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a significant Danish establishment.

Then, the Concerto giocondo e severo, op.132.



Cheerful and stern. It's only a touch over 10 minutes long, but that's plenty of time to go through a range of moods and lots of orchestral colours. I don't really want to try to break down the form of it other than to say that it has that sense of an ever-unfolding line so characteristic of the composer, and it lives up to its title perfectly. Brass slides are a perfect amusing touch to undercut, just a little, what is usually perceived as Holmboe's serious nature.

It's a little gem of a piece, really.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 27, 2016, 02:58:30 AM
1977 produced another two concertante works. First, the unrecorded Louisiana Concerto, op.131, which I've now realised thanks to a bit of googling was written for the new concert hall at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a significant Danish establishment.

Then, the Concerto giocondo e severo, op.132.



Cheerful and stern. It's only a touch over 10 minutes long, but that's plenty of time to go through a range of moods and lots of orchestral colours. I don't really want to try to break down the form of it other than to say that it has that sense of an ever-unfolding line so characteristic of the composer, and it lives up to its title perfectly. Brass slides are a perfect amusing touch to undercut, just a little, what is usually perceived as Holmboe's serious nature.

It's a little gem of a piece, really.

I'll bet!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 27, 2016, 08:04:26 AM
1977 produced another two concertante works. First, the unrecorded Louisiana Concerto, op.131, which I've now realised thanks to a bit of googling was written for the new concert hall at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a significant Danish establishment.

For fans of 20th-century Danish music, it's a famous place, because it was there on October 9, 1979 that Per Nørgård first encountered the art of Adolf Wölfi, which led to a drastic change in his own composing style. It would be interesting to see if Holmboe ever voiced his thoughts on the evolution of Nørgård’s career. I know that he felt challenged by his students in the late Fifties/early Sixties and briefly dabbled in atonality before deciding it wasn’t for him, but what did Holmboe think of the further course of Danish modernism in the subsequent decades, especially when it often re-embraced tradition?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 30, 2016, 03:26:37 AM
Still hot on the concerto trail, Holmboe completed the Violin Concerto No.2, op.139 in 1979.



It's a two movement work, the first movement containing a slightly slower central section and the second movement fusing together an Adagio and an Allegro.

The impression I tend to get is of a fairly free rhapsody unfolding. I do hear some recurring elements in the 1st movement (the semitone pulse in the orchestra being the most obvious), but the main takeaway for me is the way the solo violin weaves itself through and over the textures. It takes the lead more obviously in the slower central section. The liner notes speak of eastern European folk music and that seems apt enough. There's a slightly dark tone to the movement, until it dies away unexpectedly (well, not entirely unexpectedly when you consider Holmboe's fondness for linking movements in this way so that the changes occur not between movements, but within them).

The opening of the 2nd movement is almost a little romantic when it begins, with the horn given a prominent role. At one point later in the Adagio it's more severe and darkened by the other brass before regaining that romantic touch. A solo passage leads into the tempo change, and like everything else in this concerto the Allegro changes as it goes - initially quite dark and firm, later light and transparent then back to firmer again and a triumphant major key ending.

My attempts at describing Holmboe's music are becoming worse, because the forms are becoming looser and freer. What really needs to be singled out, though, as it has on this forum before, is how superb the recording on this hybrid SACD is. You really couldn't wish for a better platform for the music to shine through. I'm sure a major reason I find the solo part so mesmerising is because it is recorded so beautifully.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 04, 2016, 03:03:06 AM
The pace of concerto writing had slowed slightly, but Holmboe still had one more in him to complete the phase.

The Flute Concerto No.2, op.147 was composed in 1981-2.



I'll be up front and say I've been looking forward to this one because I remembered it as my favourite on this album (though as I've now noted, the alternative recording of the Recorder Concerto is better than the one here).

Certainly, nothing strikes me as problematic about the performance of the Flute Concerto. The music flows very pleasingly in the 1st movement, which has a somewhat open-air pastoral quality to it. The strings are frequently prominent and engage in a lot of dialogue with the flute. Increasingly there's a rapidly ascending figure that also appears in the brass.

The 2nd movement starts with fantastic colouring from the celesta and vibraphone, very apt to match with the lower tones of the flute and creating a bit of a fairytale atmosphere. Similar ascending figures continue to appear, especially in the solo part.

The finale starts delightfully with bassoons and pizzicato strings strumming out an almost Spanish rhythm. There's a lightness and delicacy in the music, a sense which is maintained even when it's in a minor key. It's not quite like any previous Holmboe, and I think one of my favourite movements because of that. After the cadenza the pace picks up and the music moves to a solid close.

This is definitely a piece I'd recommend: very approachable, clear outlines, a bit of a different character in each movement. All of that makes for an engaging listen in my book. Perhaps that's also my way of saying this is more conventional than some of Holmboe's other works? But if so, it still clearly bears the marks of his style.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on April 10, 2016, 03:59:04 AM
I didn't realize this (probably orfeo did), but according to BIS CEO Robert von Bahr, Holmboe's last symphony was written expressly for the CD cycle.

"Another one of BIS's discoveries, the Dane Vagn Holmboe, whose Complete Symphonies (and a lot of other things) we decided to record. Unlike with Tubin we decided that we wanted to involve the composer and involved he became. He died shortly after the recording of his last symphony (which he actually wrote for this cycle), a very happy man."

Text available today only here: http://www.eclassical.com/pages/daily-deal.html?cache=purge
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on April 10, 2016, 04:52:44 AM
I didn't realize this (probably orfeo did), but according to BIS CEO Robert von Bahr, Holmboe's last symphony was written expressly for the CD cycle.

"Another one of BIS's discoveries, the Dane Vagn Holmboe, whose Complete Symphonies (and a lot of other things) we decided to record. Unlike with Tubin we decided that we wanted to involve the composer and involved he became. He died shortly after the recording of his last symphony (which he actually wrote for this cycle), a very happy man."

Text available today only here: http://www.eclassical.com/pages/daily-deal.html?cache=purge

I actually paid him and his wife Meta May Graf (the artist) a visit in their country house at lake Arresø in northern Sealand, the Danish island where Copenhagen is also situated. (He had built in himself and also planted a modest forest around it which they showed me - on the land property he had bought with the prixe money he had won in the late 1930s with his Second Symphony BTW.) My visit (I was planning a radio documentary about his music) took place early August, 1995, a year before his death and he had just recovered from an disease and started composing again, he told me. He showed me the score of the Thirteenth Symphony on the piano and told me he had decided to dedicate it to conductor Owain Arwel Hughes. I can't remember if the conductor had already seen the score - I don't think so, but should play the tapes of our conversation to find out - but I'm almost sure he had already scheduled its recording for the completion of the BIS cycle.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 11, 2016, 02:03:43 AM
You credit me with much knowledge, Brian... PS What happened to your own Holmboe listening? It seemed to peter out around Symphony No.8. There's so much more to explore!

All I can say is that the BIS symphony box set says that Owain Arwel Hughes asked Holmboe, in January 1993, to write the 13th symphony. The first recordings in the set were in 1992 so it's certainly plausible.

I think I did see somewhere the idea that the 13th was written because there would a very short CD in the set otherwise. It wouldn't have been that hard to work out ahead of time that there was room for another work.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 03, 2016, 05:26:08 AM
I had a bit of a Holmboe lull - over a week off!

Which has extended further the time before arriving at the Intermezzo Concertante, op.171, for tuba and string orchestra (composed in 1987).



Still, it has been a few years in Holmboe's timeline since the last concerto, and this is only a short work of 7-8 minutes. It unfolds over that time at a fairly steady pace, though there are several different sections marking variations in theme and mood.

The tuba never quite gets the level of of prominence that it did in the Tuba Concerto. Its first entry is so subtle that you almost might miss it. The strings are a constant, darkly pulsing presence, at times sweeping over the tuba. In the central section they even have soloists of their own.

Not a major piece, but a very nicely constructed one that is up to this composer's standards.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 03, 2016, 05:51:38 AM
. . . Intermezzo Concertante, op.171, for tuba and string orchestra (composed in 1987).



Still, it has been a few years in Holmboe's timeline since the last concerto, and this is only a short work of 7-8 minutes. It unfolds over that time at a fairly steady pace, though there are several different sections marking variations in theme and mood.

The tuba never quite gets the level of of prominence that it did in the Tuba Concerto. Its first entry is so subtle that you almost might miss it. The strings are a constant, darkly pulsing presence, at times sweeping over the tuba. In the central section they even have soloists of their own.

Not a major piece, but a very nicely constructed one that is up to this composer's standards.

I believe I have that 'un . . . must dig.

I had a bit of a Holmboe lull - over a week off! — a break can be refreshing  8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on May 03, 2016, 06:13:29 AM
Yeah, it was time to see other people.  ;)

That, and work was so crazily insane last week that I couldn't handle the more intellectually-oriented music in my collection.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: kishnevi on May 03, 2016, 06:08:41 PM
I finished my first voyage through the symphonies set.  The only one I thought weak was the Fourth: Mahler without the neuroticism, Shostakovich without the angst.

This week I am going through the SQs.  The lack of track listings, or even identifying the quartets on the sleeve of each CD, is a bit annoying.  God help me if I ever lose the booklet!

Although, my workday today was a bit frazzling so I am not Holmboeing tonight.  Tomorrow....
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 04, 2016, 04:21:22 AM
I finished my first voyage through the symphonies set.  The only one I thought weak was the Fourth: Mahler without the neuroticism, Shostakovich without the angst.

This week I am going through the SQs.  The lack of track listings, or even identifying the quartets on the sleeve of each CD, is a bit annoying.  God help me if I ever lose the booklet!

Point taken!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 02, 2016, 05:19:47 AM
Concerto time again... for the last time.

Because the Viola Concerto op.189 is the last work in this form to be recorded.



And what a recording. The martial start, all pounding drums, leaps out of the speakers. The first entry of the viola is a long rhapsodic solo (introducing some of the figures that will recur in the rest of the movement), but then the orchestra reasserts its steady pulse and the 2nd time the viola agrees to join in, Allegro moderato ma con forza. The viola breaks free from the rhythm just a couple more times in the 1st movement, one of them being at the very end as the music quietens and decelerates in a typical Holmboe manoeuvre.

And then the 2nd movement starts just as forcefully, and faster, and they're off again in a rhythmic dance that's not dissimilar in mood to the 1st movement. But this time, it only lasts a few minutes before the viola has a big cadenza which leads into the central Andante section of the movement, far more lyrical. When the pace picks up again the music is light and slightly jaunty. It doesn't feel fast but there are occasional fast runs. The music slows down a bit again, then resumes its pace with the drums making their presence strongly felt. And that's how it goes to the end, with the last thumps failing to dislodge the viola from its final note.

The viola seems to have done darn well from Holmboe. One review of this disc described this as "one of the finest viola concertos ever penned", and the Chamber Concerto for viola was one of my favourites from that series. But the other thing this particular disc has is outstanding recorded sound.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 02, 2016, 05:21:09 AM
And that's the end of this grab-bag of concerto thoughts, because sadly the String Quartet Concerto hasn't been recorded by anyone. I kind of wish it had been put on that Da Capo disc instead of the early Concerto for Orchestra, but oh well. One day.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 02, 2016, 05:29:11 AM
Concerto time again... for the last time.

Because the Viola Concerto op.189 is the last work in this form to be recorded.



And what a recording. The martial start, all pounding drums, leaps out of the speakers. The first entry of the viola is a long rhapsodic solo (introducing some of the figures that will recur in the rest of the movement), but then the orchestra reasserts its steady pulse and the 2nd time the viola agrees to join in, Allegro moderato ma con forza. The viola breaks free from the rhythm just a couple more times in the 1st movement, one of them being at the very end as the music quietens and decelerates in a typical Holmboe manoeuvre.

And then the 2nd movement starts just as forcefully, and faster, and they're off again in a rhythmic dance that's not dissimilar in mood to the 1st movement. But this time, it only lasts a few minutes before the viola has a big cadenza which leads into the central Andante section of the movement, far more lyrical. When the pace picks up again the music is light and slightly jaunty. It doesn't feel fast but there are occasional fast runs. The music slows down a bit again, then resumes its pace with the drums making their presence strongly felt. And that's how it goes to the end, with the last thumps failing to dislodge the viola from its final note.

The viola seems to have done darn well from Holmboe. One review of this disc described this as "one of the finest viola concertos ever penned", and the Chamber Concerto for viola was one of my favourites from that series. But the other thing this particular disc has is outstanding recorded sound.

There is beautiful music on that disc!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on June 02, 2016, 08:39:54 AM
And that's the end of this grab-bag of concerto thoughts, because sadly the String Quartet Concerto hasn't been recorded by anyone. I kind of wish it had been put on that Da Capo disc instead of the early Concerto for Orchestra, but oh well. One day.

There's hope. Thanks for writing these observations. I've ordered some of the concertos disks (from the BIS series), and am looking forward to listening to them. Last year Da Capo announced on their website the release of a box set of the concertos, but after a short while the announcement was taken off again. Even so, I hope they will follow up on it in the near future.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on June 02, 2016, 02:12:48 PM
Let's hope Dacapo gets to recording the symphonies (not that I'm dissatisfied with Hughes in any way).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on June 02, 2016, 11:40:34 PM
Point taken!
I like the opening of No.4 although 6,7,8 and 10 are my favourites. Must get that Viola Concerto CD.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 06, 2016, 04:52:38 AM
orfeo, would you have any idea if an (apparently late, "by 1994") choral unaccompanied setting of Pludselig blev mørket lyst igen (Suddenly the darkness became light again) has been sung?  Where we might obtain choral scores?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2016, 05:11:51 AM
orfeo, would you have any idea if an (apparently late, "by 1994") choral unaccompanied setting of Pludselig blev mørket lyst igen (Suddenly the darkness became light again) has been sung?  Where we might obtain choral scores?

The catalogue info I have says that it was published in a book called "6 National Songs" (6 Folkelige sange), edited by Else Marie Okkels. That was published in 1994, hence the date.

There are apparently two versions of the book, one of which has the choral unaccompanied setting (the other is voice and piano).

So maybe it's only available in that book with other composers. Google provides library hits on the Danish title that prove the book exists, though I haven't spotted one for sale.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 06, 2016, 05:13:08 AM
The catalogue info I have says that it was published in a book called "6 National Songs" (6 Folkelige sange), edited by Else Marie Okkels. That was published in 1994, hence the date.

There are apparently two versions of the book, one of which has the choral unaccompanied setting (the other is voice and piano).

So maybe it's only available in that book with other composers. Google provides library hits on the Danish title that prove the book exists, though I haven't spotted one for sale.

Many thanks!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 06, 2016, 05:23:01 AM
It occurs to me that I know an organist from Denmark, and I should see what he might be able to tell me . . . .
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2016, 05:27:12 AM
It appears it was published by... an association for Danish high schools??

I believe these are the people: www.ffd.dk  but the site is only in Danish. If you can't track down a copy in a Danish library, at a pinch you could try writing to them (in English - chances are they speak it) and see what happens.

Heck, writing to people about obscure Holmboe recordings has netted me 4 free CDs this year...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 06, 2016, 05:30:28 AM
(in English - chances are they speak it)

Every Dane I have gotten to know yet, has spoken very good English.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2016, 05:32:50 AM
Every Dane I have gotten to know yet, has spoken very good English.

Yes, the only reason I hedged my bets was simply because there was no English version of the site.

Anyway, your local Danish organist can tackle the task for you, as well as investigating libraries.  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on June 09, 2016, 11:43:48 AM
Rereleased:

(http://www.forgottenrecords.com/images/covers/NIELSEN%20HOLMBOE%20SAUERMANN%20MUSICA%20VITALIS%20QUARTET%20front.jpg)

http://www.forgottenrecords.com/Sauermann-Musica-Vitalis-Quartet--Nielsen-Holmboe--969.html
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 01, 2016, 09:33:49 AM
New announcement of the collected chamber concertos by Da Capo (January 2017):

http://www.dacapo-records.dk/en/future-releases.aspx

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 01, 2016, 03:20:55 PM
Excellent. Let's hope it actually happens this time!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on July 13, 2016, 07:11:15 AM
Doubtful. It's been taken off again.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on July 13, 2016, 07:58:43 AM
The quality of the Dacapo Chamber Concertos (both in terms of performance and sound) is so inferior to those Chamber Concertos recorded on BIS, that I wish BIS had just completed their series. Unfortunately, after over a decade Robert von Bahr’s attention has probably wandered off elsewhere than Holmboe, and maybe Owain Arwel Hughes isn’t in a position to conduct more Holmboe with a Danish orchestra.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on July 13, 2016, 11:33:10 AM
The quality of the Dacapo Chamber Concertos (both in terms of performance and sound) is so inferior to those Chamber Concertos recorded on BIS, that I wish BIS had just completed their series. Unfortunately, after over a decade Robert von Bahr’s attention has probably wandered off elsewhere than Holmboe, and maybe Owain Arwel Hughes isn’t in a position to conduct more Holmboe with a Danish orchestra.

I'll have to compare with the Bis, but the Dacapo discs have excellent sonics to my ears.  Perhaps a matter of taste.  No complaints about the performances, either.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on July 13, 2016, 02:08:38 PM
The quality of the Dacapo Chamber Concertos (both in terms of performance and sound) is so inferior to those Chamber Concertos recorded on BIS, that I wish BIS had just completed their series. Unfortunately, after over a decade Robert von Bahr’s attention has probably wandered off elsewhere than Holmboe, and maybe Owain Arwel Hughes isn’t in a position to conduct more Holmboe with a Danish orchestra.

An opinion I don't entirely share. The BIS are often better, but there are at least two concertos where I think the Da Capo is the better performance - in one case (the clarinet concerto) by a considerable margin.

In any case, BIS didn't seem to have any interest in the double or triple concertos.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on August 19, 2016, 02:49:07 AM
I just did a casual search of iTunes to see if there was maybe a new Holmboe-related album. Turned out there were a hell of a lot of them.

Mostly old recordings, mostly bits and pieces, but... I've attempted to catalogue it all on the blog.

 http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/a-lot-of-new-old-discoveries.html

Now, does anyone know how to build a proper website for this stuff?...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Zeus on January 25, 2017, 07:35:49 AM
Boy oh boy. Threads like this cost me a lot of money and time.


I just recently got bitten by the Holmboe bug (that Viola Concerto album, on Dacapo).  Thanks to you guys, I fear the disease is going to spread.


 ???
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 25, 2017, 07:39:44 AM
Boy oh boy. Threads like this cost me a lot of money and time.


I just recently got bitten by the Holmboe bug (that Viola Concerto album, on Dacapo).  Thanks to you guys, I fear the disease is going to spread.


 ???

Excellent! Is that Holmboe recording (w/ the Viola Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra), etc.) the only one you own of his music so far? I would definitely recommend the symphony set next.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Zeus on January 25, 2017, 09:06:54 AM
Yep!  Picked up the Concertos just 12 days ago.  Giving it a second spin now.


I'm gonna try to listen to a bunch of stuff on Spotify next. Then after that make a second purchase.


Any thoughts on the curiously named "Holmboe: Key Masterpieces" from Dacapo? It seems to be a re-issue of a re-packaging, ironically missing several key masterpieces. But it does have that Requiem for Nietzsche....


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JYvwC6MmL.jpg)

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 25, 2017, 12:58:48 PM
Yep!  Picked up the Concertos just 12 days ago.  Giving it a second spin now.


I'm gonna try to listen to a bunch of stuff on Spotify next. Then after that make a second purchase.


Any thoughts on the curiously named "Holmboe: Key Masterpieces" from Dacapo? It seems to be a re-issue of a re-packaging, ironically missing several key masterpieces. But it does have that Requiem for Nietsche....


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JYvwC6MmL.jpg)

Yes, it is basically a sampler rather than a greatest hits.

And yes, by far the best reason to get it is the Requiem, if it's cheaper and easier than hunting down the single Requiem disc. Or if you want to dabble in other works at the same time. There's certainly nothing wrong with the chosen works, but they're not what I would consider landmarks, just representative of what you'll find on other Da Capo recordings.

Though I would double check that "Key Masterpieces" still gives you the text of the Requiem to read.

Keep in mind that Da Capo sells their albums directly. Their website is very good, and in my experience they answer email questions very readily in a way that puts larger labels to shame. I bought my single disc Requiem directly from them (though I did it in person not online, which is a bit unusual!).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 25, 2017, 01:01:24 PM
Oh, sorry. I just saw that the Da Capo website declares the single CD to be discontinued, they're only offering it for sale as a download.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 17, 2017, 08:16:08 PM
I have two thoghts (questions) about Holmboe right now:

1) Holmboe is a  mixture of his own mind and both of Nielsen and Shostakovich (?)
2) The Fourth Symphony (Sinfonia Sacra) is sister of Janácek's Glagolitic Mass and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (?)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on March 17, 2017, 09:42:43 PM
I have two thoghts (questions) about Holmboe right now:

1) Holmboe is a  mixture of his own mind and both of Nielsen and Shostakovich (?)
2) The Fourth Symphony (Sinfonia Sacra) is sister of Janácek's Glagolitic Mass and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (?)

Sounds good to me, though I thought there was also a bit of Orff in the 4th as well, only without the vulgarity.  (Not that I really object to vulgarity.)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 18, 2017, 06:14:02 AM
1) Holmboe is a  mixture of his own mind and both of Nielsen and Shostakovich (?)

And Sibelius and Hindemith and Bartok... and he loved Haydn...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 18, 2017, 09:09:33 PM
You're right, I also perceived some influences of them. Why had not I listened to this composer before? I'm not a musical expert, I just say that I was somehow transfigured by such rhythmic energy that I found in his impressive symphonies. It was an overwhelming experience. What power so great is displayed! (I still do not recover for all that music). Perhaps this commentary has been repeated a lot in this wonderful thread, but the 8th symphony was the most overwhelming of all, one of my favorite new symphonies and also a new favorite composer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 18, 2017, 10:58:25 PM
You're right, I also perceived some influences of them. Why had not I listened to this composer before? I'm not a musical expert, I just say that I was somehow transfigured by such rhythmic energy that I found in his impressive symphonies. It was an overwhelming experience. What power so great is displayed! (I still do not recover for all that music). Perhaps this commentary has been repeated a lot in this wonderful thread, but the 8th symphony was the most overwhelming of all, one of my favorite new symphonies and also a new favorite composer.
No.8 and 10 are my favourites but maybe this is because they were the ones I first knew on LP. I love the opening of No.4 dedicated, I think, to his brother who was killed in the War. 6 and 7 are my other favourites.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 18, 2017, 11:16:00 PM
Nos. 8 and 10 are among my favourites too (possibly even my top two), and I got them all in one go with the Hughes box.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on March 18, 2017, 11:50:19 PM
No.11 isn´t usually rated as one of the best, but there´s something very appealing and varied content in it that I really like.

A recording of the 7th with big sound and a broader playing style than Hughes, Chandos-wise, would be very welcome, I think. In that respect, I like the old Frandsen version on LP, but the sound there isn´t the best. Also, the 8th could benefit from that too, where the old Semkow LP, as an alternative to Hughes, likewise hasn´t got the best sound.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 19, 2017, 12:18:59 AM
No.11 isn´t usually rated as one of the best, but there´s something very appealing and varied content in it that I really like.

The 11th was one of the ones I was immediately able to get something out of, thanks to that weirdly pulsing rhythm that recurs through it. But really coming to grips with it is difficult. It's one of those pieces where Holmboe shows his habit of not placing the breaks between movements in the "right" places; he puts changes of tempo and mood in the middle of movements instead of between them.

EDIT: Listening to it now, of course...

SECOND EDIT: Turner, do you know Tempo variabile? Another piece with a somewhat similar texture.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 19, 2017, 12:24:46 AM
Nos. 8 and 10 are among my favourites too (possibly even my top two), and I got them all in one go with the Hughes box.
That's interesting. They are great works. No.10 has a kind of elemental power about it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 19, 2017, 12:27:05 AM
No.11 isn´t usually rated as one of the best, but there´s something very appealing and varied content in it that I really like.

A recording of the 7th with big sound and a broader playing style than Hughes, Chandos-wise, would be very welcome, I think. In that respect, I like the old Frandsen version on LP, but the sound there isn´t the best. Also, the 8th could benefit from that too, where the old Semkow LP, as an alternative to Hughes, likewise hasn´t got the best sound.
I wish that the Semkow was on CD and the Ehrling (I think) recording of No.10 that I had on LP too.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on March 19, 2017, 12:29:51 AM
The 11th ...

EDIT: Listening to it now, of course...

I don´t recall a listen where I got tired of it.

And then there´s this lovely, folkish & completely different 1st Symphony ...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Turner on March 19, 2017, 12:33:11 AM

SECOND EDIT: Turner, do you know Tempo variabile? Another piece with a somewhat similar texture.

I remember that disc of the 4 Symphonic Metamorphoses as symphonically grand and impressive, but not the music in details.
I might give it a listen later today.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 19, 2017, 07:31:21 PM
I found this in Youtube (it's in Danish, I guess). I don't know if someone had posted it before.

It seems an interview with this great composer and his wife:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=618aW0q3no4&t=418s
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 19, 2017, 10:58:49 PM
And Sibelius and Hindemith and Bartok... and he loved Haydn...

Correct. And folk music: Meta May Graf, his wife, helped him discover Romanian (she was a German speaking Romanian) and other Central-European (Hungarian a.o.) folk music in his student years and the influence of folk music is one of the vital elements throughout his long career I'd say.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 20, 2017, 12:52:58 AM
I found this in Youtube (it's in Danish, I guess). I don't know if someone had posted it before.

It seems an interview with this great composer and his wife:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=618aW0q3no4&t=418s

Yes, it's in Danish. If there was a transcript I'd be fine, but with spoken Danish I'm still struggling.

Still, I might try watching it. I knew it existed but I've only viewed tiny snippets. My Danish might be good enough now to get something out of it.

I also have a saved copy of a radio interview with their son, recorded about 3 years ago. In the hope that one day I'll know more of what he said!

EDIT: Of course, there are also a few native Danish speakers on the forum.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 20, 2017, 01:41:53 AM
I can tell you they spend a LOT of time talking about folk music, including the trip to Romania they took when they married. Also how they met while both looking at a Rembrandt picture...

They brought back a lot of stuff from Romania and had an exhibition of it.

Then he starts talking about Danish street cries (I know this partly because I know he wrote a book about them!) (oh okay, eventually they SHOW the book, hehe).

Meta talks about the photographs she takes in winter as the lake freezes. Then they talk about the massive number of trees they planted on their property.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 21, 2017, 05:22:08 PM
I can tell you they spend a LOT of time talking about folk music, including the trip to Romania they took when they married. Also how they met while both looking at a Rembrandt picture...

They brought back a lot of stuff from Romania and had an exhibition of it.

Then he starts talking about Danish street cries (I know this partly because I know he wrote a book about them!) (oh okay, eventually they SHOW the book, hehe).

Meta talks about the photographs she takes in winter as the lake freezes. Then they talk about the massive number of trees they planted on their property.

Very interesting information about them, so it's a more human interview and not so academic. Thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on September 22, 2017, 03:35:15 AM
Oh, sorry. I just saw that the Da Capo website declares the single CD to be discontinued, they're only offering it for sale as a download.
Unfortunately that's been the case for several years I think (unless they briefly revived it). I think it was around 2010 or 2011 that I went looking for the Requiem and was forced to buy the sampler. The text is certainly provided, but it's split into two at an awkward point, with a spread of "Quotes and Accolades" interpolated between the two parts.

Some of the choices seem a little strange for a "greatest hits" album - the Op. 20 concerto for flute, violin, percussion, and strings for example. I mean, I love the piece, but I wouldn't rate it as a masterpiece by any stretch.

It's definitely worth it for the Requiem though.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on September 22, 2017, 03:46:58 AM
Nos. 8 and 10 are among my favourites too (possibly even my top two), and I got them all in one go with the Hughes box.
I have a special fondness for the 10th, perhaps because I was at the world premiere in Detroit. That bleak ending is one of the most visionary things he ever composed. The 8th is a stirring, wonderful work, though I can't help feeling that some of the wilder passages in the last movement teeter on the verge of becoming unhinged.

My favorite is probably the 9th, which took me the longest to come to terms with. It's one of Holmboe's darkest works, and something of a stand-alone in terms of style, with its rather impressionistic palette of orchestral colors. Soon after the 9th, as soon as the Chamber Symphony No. 3 I think, his mellower, more diatonic (or at least less dissonant) late style starts to come to the fore, and he never went any further in the direction implied by the 9th, something I've always regretted.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on September 22, 2017, 03:55:59 AM
Yes, agree with everything you say about the 9th stylistically. It's a fabulous work once you come to grips with it.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 22, 2017, 05:33:02 AM
I need re-familiarize myself with Holmboe’s music again. He’s really an outstanding composer, but, goodness, there’s just so much music out there and so little time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 22, 2017, 05:37:32 AM
The good news:  Holmboe is a great “binge composer,” I find.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 22, 2017, 05:52:39 AM
The good news:  Holmboe is a great “binge composer,” I find.

Indeed. You listen to one work and you simply want to hear another one. I find this to be true with Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, the Second Viennese School, Mahler, among others. The key is to not overdose.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on September 22, 2017, 06:12:07 AM
The good news:  Holmboe is a great “binge composer,” I find.

Well I sure know I'm prone to binges. Holmboe and Faure are my 2 great ones for that in the classical world.

Partly that's because of the length of pieces I think. Most of Holmboe's works are compact.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 22, 2017, 06:14:17 AM
Indeed. You listen to one work and you simply want to hear another one. I find this to be true with Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, the Second Viennese School, Mahler, among others. The key is to not overdose.

Aye, Safety first!  8)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 22, 2017, 06:25:15 AM
Aye, Safety first!  8)

Indeed!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 22, 2017, 06:26:53 AM
Well I sure know I'm prone to binges. Holmboe and Faure are my 2 great ones for that in the classical world.

Partly that's because of the length of pieces I think. Most of Holmboe's works are compact.

Yes.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Zeus on April 10, 2018, 04:35:46 PM
Sometimes it's just plain fun to be a collector....

I picked up these first two albums in January '17:

1) Holmboe: Concertos; Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Dima Slobodeniouk; Dacapo



2) Holmboe: Key Masterpieces; Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen; Dacapo



Then I picked up another album in Sept 17:

3) Holmboe: Chamber Music, Vol. 2; Ensemble MidtVest; Dacapo



And a fourth album last month (Mar 18):

4) Holmboe: Concertos, Beatus Parvo; Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Owain Arwel Hughes; BIS



Now I've got my eye on yet another album:

5?) Holmboe: Kairos; Camerata Wales, Hughes; BIS



Plus I feel a need to re-listen to the stuff I already have.  Maybe with the works in chronological order -- I always like doing that.  Not too challenging when I just have a few albums.

Holmboe certainly is an intriguing composer.  And a lot of fun to collect ! 

Hmm....  What next?  Decisions, decisions.   :)

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Zeus on April 10, 2018, 05:00:39 PM
Change of plans....

I got this instead:



It cost me just $16 when downloaded from emusic.com.  Overlaps quite a bit with my #4 above, but also replaces #5 above. Plus I think the Dacapo versions might be considered a tad better, particularly the clarinet concerto (?).

Drats, that's six* five discs to digest (I'm not a box set kinda guy).  I guess I'm pregnant now!  I hope I'll survive.   :-[

* Kairos is repeated
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Daverz on April 10, 2018, 05:26:39 PM
Change of plans....

I got this instead:



It cost me just $16 when downloaded from emusic.com.  Overlaps quite a bit with my #4 above, but obviates my need for #5 above. Plus I think the Dacapo versions considered a tad better, particularly the clarinet concerto (?).

Drats, that's 6 discs to digest (I'm not a box set kinda guy).  I guess I'm pregnant now!  But somehow I'll survive.   :-[

They are short works, and it's kind of like eating chips (crisps for those in the U.K.).  I'm predicting you'll have no trouble working thru the set.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Zeus on April 10, 2018, 06:36:08 PM
So far, so good.  And I see what you mean about short and sweet.  CC #2 sounds a lot like Hovhaness.

Update: I'm very pleased with this latest purchase (as well as replays of the earlier purchases).  It all sounds terrific -- very accessible but not trite.  Holmboe is now officially ranked "very good".
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 11, 2018, 12:39:10 PM
Plus I think the Dacapo versions considered a tad better, particularly the clarinet concerto (?).

My comparisons are somewhere in this thread. For me, the clarinet concerto (#3) is where Dacapo is a clear winner over BIS. I also like Dacapo in #8.

Elsewhere I tend to prefer the BIS series, but the BIS series only covers 7 out of the 13 concertos.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 16, 2018, 11:12:08 AM

[snip]


Tangentially . . . on the Wikipedia page of his list of works (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe) . . . (and maybe you addressed this erewhile, and I was inattentive, sorry).

We read, e.g.:

Quote
194 | 73a | Sinfonia I | 1957 | Orchestral | The four parts of Op. 73 can be played separately or combined into a single work, Kairos.

Did I mistake, when forming an impression that, in fact, Kairos consists in a later-composed Preludio, two Interludi, and Postludio, which can either be played commingled with the Sinfonias I - III, or played together as Sinfonia IV (Kairos)?

That is, is the table wrong in this remark?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 16, 2018, 04:38:42 PM
Tangentially . . . on the Wikipedia page of his list of works (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe) . . . (and maybe you addressed this erewhile, and I was inattentive, sorry).

We read, e.g.:

Did I mistake, when forming an impression that, in fact, Kairos consists in a later-composed Preludio, two Interludi, and Postludio, which can either be played commingled with the Sinfonias I - III, or played together as Sinfonia IV (Kairos)?

That is, is the table wrong in this remark?

Kairos consists of all 4 Sinfonias, but in the sequence:

Prelude from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia I
Interlude I from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia II
Interlude II from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia III
Postlude from Sinofnia IV.

That is, Sinfonia IV can be fractured and wrapped around the other 3.

It depends on which recording you have, the BIS or the Da Capo, on how this is offered to you. Da Capo's original issue gave you Kairos as an entire separate disc. The BIS recording gives you Kairos but then gives Sinfonia IV on its own so it can be listened to as a separate 4-movement work.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on June 16, 2018, 04:50:54 PM
Addendum: It's not clear to me just when Holmboe has this unusual idea. Sinfonia IV was written slightly later than the others and in fact it's a bit stylistically different as it's right around when he was transitioning to his "modern" phase.

I think it's most likely that the first 3 were each conceived as entirely separate pieces (they were all premiered separately), without an intention of joining them, and then he decided he could put them together and wrote the joining music.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 16, 2018, 05:06:50 PM
Thanks for the enlightenment!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: North Star on July 20, 2018, 06:53:17 AM
Kairos consists of all 4 Sinfonias, but in the sequence:

Prelude from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia I
Interlude I from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia II
Interlude II from Sinfonia IV
Sinfonia III
Postlude from Sinofnia IV.

That is, Sinfonia IV can be fractured and wrapped around the other 3.

It depends on which recording you have, the BIS or the Da Capo, on how this is offered to you. Da Capo's original issue gave you Kairos as an entire separate disc. The BIS recording gives you Kairos but then gives Sinfonia IV on its own so it can be listened to as a separate 4-movement work.
The Da Capo box also gives Sinfonias 1-4 in order separately, as well as Kairos on a different disc. The liner notes say that "when the last of them, Sinfonia IV, was written in 1962, Holmboe realized that the four works together - in a different order - could be viewed as one large work".  Quoth Holmboe: "Kairos means 'time' in the psychological sense - that is, the passage of time that we sense - as opposed to Chronos, which is the name for the time that can be divided into seconds and minutes. Apart from the general variability of time that arises betwee concentrated and relaxed periods, I have further attempted to elucidate this among other ways through the alternation of objective-abstractive and subjective-expressive passages, through various simultaneously acting sequences and through the timelessness of the metamorphoses in the chronological sense."
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on August 04, 2018, 06:16:59 AM
Addendum: It's not clear to me just when Holmboe has this unusual idea. Sinfonia IV was written slightly later than the others and in fact it's a bit stylistically different as it's right around when he was transitioning to his "modern" phase.

I think it's most likely that the first 3 were each conceived as entirely separate pieces (they were all premiered separately), without an intention of joining them, and then he decided he could put them together and wrote the joining music.

I agree, the styles of Sinfonias I through III are similar and they share important thematic material, but IV seems to inhabit a totally different, almost expressionistic (as in, 2nd Viennese School) world, even though it also shares some of the same material. I'm not completely sure the "joining" works, especially at the start of Sinfonia I (movement 2 in Kairos). There is a disconnect there that always bothers me; also to a lesser degree at the start of movement 4 (Sinfonia II). The movement-to-movement progress of Sinfonia IV, though, works MUCH better in my opinion in Kairos than in the standalone Sinfonia. So it does seem plausible to me that Sinfonia IV was written specifically to join the movements in Kairos, except for the fact that he published it as a separate work.

It's a very interesting an absorbing piece though. Sinfonia II is one of my very favorite Holmboe works, full of austere lyricism and some truly awesome polyphonic passages.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 30, 2019, 11:51:44 AM
I already had posted some impressions about the Symphony No. 8. Yesterday I listened to it again. I can't be wrong upon saying that it's truly an amazingly powerful piece, a pinnacle of the Nordic symphonic literature. It's the dark nature and the vibrant rhythms that appeal to me the most. Holmboe also used the timpani in a way that is not less than grandiose, accentuating emphatically some crutial moments. The way it ends is incredibly tense and dramatic, a tautly stirring struggle of significant proportions (I really love that!), one of the most draining endings I know, it keeps you at the edge of your seat!

In addition, I found out there is another recording of it, performed by the American S.O. and Botstein. Does anyone know it?

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/847108065018.jpg?1437384305)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on March 30, 2019, 12:30:04 PM
In addition, I found out there is another recording of it, performed by the American S.O. and Botstein. Does anyone know it?

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/847108065018.jpg?1437384305)
I do, it's on Spotify (as are all or at least most of these Botstein recordings, often a daring repertoire). It's fine, but not as concentrated as the BIS recording, AFAIR.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 30, 2019, 07:20:42 PM
I do, it's on Spotify (as are all or at least most of these Botstein recordings, often a daring repertoire). It's fine, but not as concentrated as the BIS recording, AFAIR.

Thank you. Good to know it, then I've listened to the right performance all this time.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on March 31, 2019, 08:13:29 AM
Prompted by some mention (maybe Symphonyaddict) I listened to the Concerto for Orchestra, which I didn't really like, but the other two piece on the disc, Violin Concerto No 2 and Viola Concerto, made a big impression. Both struck me as a departure from Holmboe's 'international' style, with some reference to national styles. They bother seemed to fit the definition of "neoclassical" rather than romantic, and both used dramatic orchestral effects. Glad that it was brought to my attention.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Alex Bozman on March 31, 2019, 10:27:31 AM
Thank you. Good to know it, then I've listened to the right performance all this time.
I always preferred the Jerzy Semkow version of Holmboe's 8th on Turnabout LP to the Arwel Hughes BIS version. It seemed to me the percussion, which plays an important part in this symphony, was sharper in the Semkow interpretation.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 31, 2019, 01:21:38 PM
Prompted by some mention (maybe Symphonyaddict) I listened to the Concerto for Orchestra, which I didn't really like, but the other two piece on the disc, Violin Concerto No 2 and Viola Concerto, made a big impression. Both struck me as a departure from Holmboe's 'international' style, with some reference to national styles. They bother seemed to fit the definition of "neoclassical" rather than romantic, and both used dramatic orchestral effects. Glad that it was brought to my attention.

I don’t know that anyone ever considered Holmboe to be romantic, in terms of the classical-romantic spectrum.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 31, 2019, 05:31:14 PM
Prompted by some mention (maybe Symphonyaddict) I listened to the Concerto for Orchestra, which I didn't really like, but the other two piece on the disc, Violin Concerto No 2 and Viola Concerto, made a big impression. Both struck me as a departure from Holmboe's 'international' style, with some reference to national styles. They bother seemed to fit the definition of "neoclassical" rather than romantic, and both used dramatic orchestral effects. Glad that it was brought to my attention.

Yes, I was. I've seen through several posts you don't like noisy works that much (I remember Tubin for that matter), so that Concerto wasn't going to be a work of your tastes (however, I did like it a lot). As for the other concertos, according to my notes, they are very good indeed, above all the Viola one, being one of his last concertos, and curiously I was expecting something harsher and dissonant, but it turned out a vey nice surprise.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on March 31, 2019, 05:33:18 PM
I always preferred the Jerzy Semkow version of Holmboe's 8th on Turnabout LP to the Arwel Hughes BIS version. It seemed to me the percussion, which plays an important part in this symphony, was sharper in the Semkow interpretation.

I was born in the CD era, so I never had any LPs  :-[

I don't know whether there is any recording on CD of it. I would like to hear it!

EDIT: BTW, welcome to this magnificent forum!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on April 01, 2019, 12:55:30 AM
I always preferred the Jerzy Semkow version of Holmboe's 8th on Turnabout LP to the Arwel Hughes BIS version. It seemed to me the percussion, which plays an important part in this symphony, was sharper in the Semkow interpretation.

Totally agree with you - my first encounter with Holmboe's music. That and a Turnabout LP of Hilding Rosenberg's 6th Symphony made a big impression on my youthful self. I'm sorry that AFAIK the Holmoe recording, unlike the Rosenberg, was never released on CD.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 01, 2019, 12:56:35 AM
It would appear the Semkow version has been repackaged.

https://www.youtube.com/v/cb6IQNRiQ9M


Probably on download/streaming services?

The opening doesn't sound as intense to me as the BIS on a first very brief listen. Nevertheless, the mere fact of having multiple versions of a Holmboe work is always notable.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 01, 2019, 12:58:50 AM
Scratch that. It is only the first movement that's been made available.  ::)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on April 01, 2019, 01:39:34 AM
Scratch that. It is only the first movement that's been made available.  ::)
Thanks for the info anyway.

It's great to hear that recording again, albeit just the opening movement.

I played it through twice with much pleasure.

I think that it has a greater sense urgency than the , very good, BIS recording.

Neither of the fine Holmboe LPs I had ever made it to CD. :(

(http://)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on April 01, 2019, 08:02:33 AM
Yes, I was. I've seen through several posts you don't like noisy works that much (I remember Tubin for that matter), so that Concerto wasn't going to be a work of your tastes (however, I did like it a lot). As for the other concertos, according to my notes, they are very good indeed, above all the Viola one, being one of his last concertos, and curiously I was expecting something harsher and dissonant, but it turned out a vey nice surprise.

I was (pleasantly) surprised by the viola concerto, in that it by incorporating ethnic elements and having what seemed like a more conventional harmonic underpinning, it seemed to go against the abstract style I had come to expect after listening to some of the symphonies in the BIS series (many years ago).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on April 09, 2019, 10:40:50 AM
Actually I've been playing the BIS recording of Symphony 8 today and think it's a very fine performance. I also think that the symphony is one of the greatest of the 20th Century. The third movement seems to demonstrate the influence of Shostakovich but nothing takes away from the originality of this great work:
(http://)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on April 09, 2019, 03:31:02 PM
Actually I've been playing the BIS recording of Symphony 8 today and think it's a very fine performance. I also think that the symphony is one of the greatest of the 20th Century. The third movement seems to demonstrate the influence of Shostakovich but nothing takes away from the originality of this great work:
(http://)

I agree with all this. It's an exceptional symphony. This work doesn't seem to have any "happy moment", it's rather rigourous throughout. The slow movement contains a sort of melancholy tune I find a bit touching.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on April 09, 2019, 09:41:14 PM
I agree with all this. It's an exceptional symphony. This work doesn't seem to have any "happy moment", it's rather rigourous throughout. The slow movement contains a sort of melancholy tune I find a bit touching.
+1
I fine the end of the opening movement especially, searching, moving, visionary - it certainly stays in my mind long afterwards.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 09, 2019, 11:11:08 PM
Symphony No.8 seems to have had the most enthusiastic general reception of any work.

Of course, that reception is still limited to those people who’ve ever heard the work (or indeed any Holmboe at all). But in the overall scheme of things it’s the clearest ‘hit’ in the catalogue.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on April 09, 2019, 11:18:09 PM
Symphony No.8 seems to have had the most enthusiastic general reception of any work.

Of course, that reception is still limited to those people who’ve ever heard the work (or indeed any Holmboe at all). But in the overall scheme of things it’s the clearest ‘hit’ in the catalogue.

That's true. It's also the only symphony by Holmboe that I knew for many years as it was the only one to appear, as far as I'm aware, on LP in the UK, although Symphony 10 also appeared a bit later I think.
There was also an LP of Symphony 7 conducted by John Frandsen which I recorded decades ago off the radio but I never came across the LP. It's also one of my favourite symphonies by Vagn Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: aukhawk on April 10, 2019, 12:11:44 AM
Well I was going to look into Holmboe's 8th but ...

I agree with all this. It's an exceptional symphony. This work doesn't seem to have any "happy moment", it's rather rigourous throughout.

... you're not selling it to me  :(
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on April 10, 2019, 03:53:15 AM
It does not have to be happy to be exhilarating.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on April 10, 2019, 03:57:22 AM
I agree with all this. It's an exceptional symphony. This work doesn't seem to have any "happy moment", it's rather rigourous throughout. The slow movement contains a sort of melancholy tune I find a bit touching.
A good example of how complicated it remains, to put musical experience into words: I would call this Eight very emotionally rewarding, singing of things like 'fulfillment', often 'as in a dream'; Holmboe himself, when I met him in 1995, recalled that parts of it had literally 'appeared in a dream' (adding that sometimes music that he dreamt proved fine in the morning, sometimes not at all).  :D
It does not have to be happy to be exhilarating.
Exactly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on April 10, 2019, 10:10:05 AM
Well I was going to look into Holmboe's 8th but ...

... you're not selling it to me  :(

Noo, please! Don't feel discouraged by my words! It's an eloquent work of great intensity.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on April 10, 2019, 10:11:39 AM
A good example of how complicated it remains, to put musical experience into words: I would call this Eight very emotionally rewarding, singing of things like 'fulfillment', often 'as in a dream'; Holmboe himself, when I met him in 1995, recalled that parts of it had literally 'appeared in a dream' (adding that sometimes music that he dreamt proved fine in the morning, sometimes not at all).

Quite interesting. A great anecdote!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on April 11, 2019, 06:10:31 AM
I personally have never been inclined to compare the Eighth to other composers, except that the first few bars are an obvious nod to Sibelius. It is interesting to see the Eighth compared to Shostakovich here. I once played the BIS recording of the Eighth for a classical-knowledgeable friend once and his reaction was "It sounds like David Diamond", and unfortunately that was a negative evaluation and so I was unable to interest this friend in Holmboe’s music further.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 11, 2019, 10:43:57 PM
When Robert Simpson was a BBC Radio 3 producer in the 1970s he had a program where he would play music without identifying it. He'd say "here is a piano concerto written in 1936"' or whatever. There's a lot to be said for listening to music without knowing the composer.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Alex Bozman on April 17, 2019, 11:34:50 AM
When Robert Simpson was a BBC Radio 3 producer in the 1970s he had a program where he would play music without identifying it. He'd say "here is a piano concerto written in 1936"' or whatever. There's a lot to be said for listening to music without knowing the composer.

The first time I heard Holmboe's 8th was on Robert Simpson's Innocent Ear programme.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on April 17, 2019, 12:19:16 PM
The first time I heard Holmboe's 8th was on Robert Simpson's Innocent Ear programme.
I wasn't quite old enough to have heard the programme, I've just heard of it. I first tuned in to Simpson on the BBC when he presented a series on the Nielsen Symphonies in the early 80s. He was great broadcaster.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on April 18, 2019, 08:08:11 AM
Prompted by some mention (maybe Symphonyaddict) I listened to the Concerto for Orchestra, which I didn't really like, but the other two piece on the disc, Violin Concerto No 2 and Viola Concerto, made a big impression. Both struck me as a departure from Holmboe's 'international' style, with some reference to national styles. They bother seemed to fit the definition of "neoclassical" rather than romantic, and both used dramatic orchestral effects. Glad that it was brought to my attention.

The Concerto for Orchestra is a very early work, so that might be part of it too. It is definitely not vintage Holmboe, though in its boldness it looks forward to works like the 8th Symphony. The other two concertos are much later works, after he had transitioned to a less dissonant, and more diatonic/modal style. I think the Viola Concerto was one of his last works, from around the time of the 13th Symphony. If you like them there is lots more Holmboe from that period to explore. In fact several other concertos that he wrote during those years (1974 - 1982) are available on CD... the Cello Concerto, the Recorder Concerto, and the two Flute Concerti. Of those I like the 1st Flute Concerto the best - lots of very inventive writing for the flute, a lyrical slow movement where the soloist switches to an alto flute, and a dramatic finale.

His last three symphonies (#11 - #13) are also very much worth exploring.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 20, 2020, 12:44:41 AM
I am listening again to the Holmboe symphonies on BIS after several years away. This time around, I am very unimpressed by the 9th and 10th particularly. Both sound like very tentative readings, as if the conductor and the ensemble did not get enough rehearsal time. I also feel that the sonics of the 10th are disappointing by BIS standards. It would be nice if Dacapo could eventually record a new cycle to compete with the BIS.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 20, 2020, 02:32:02 AM
I just bought one of the BIS Holmboe discs after seeing it at a local book store. It is Owain Arwel Hughes conducting the symphonies 1, 3 & 10. I have yet to hear any of it yet as I'm kind of hooked on Tubin at the moment, and for some reason I expect I will end up comparing one to the other if I explore their music simultaneously. Fairly soon I will write back in this thread with my thoughts. 32 pages of discussion means that Holmboe must be an important composer to many of y'all here.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 20, 2020, 03:20:37 AM
Hmm. Well symphonies 9 and 10 are among my favourites, regardless of what a different performance might reveal.

Also, 32 pages of discussion... a lot of that is my fault.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 04:34:15 AM
Holmboe has remained totally unknown to me. It is a combination of many things. Naxos has never released Holmboe. I think I have never heard a single work by Holmboe on radio or elsewhere and none of my CDs containing works by varios composers has anything by Holmboe. Holmboe has been championed mainly by labels Dacapo and BIS, neither of them especially cheap. I can of course listen to Holmboe on Spotify, but there's tons of other composers just as obscure to me as Holmboe so when is it Holmboe's turn? Today? In 2025? I don't know.

I have been into contemporary classical music lately, but often I am into composer who have been born 1930 or later so Holmboe might be 2 decades too early stylistically to be interesting as a contemporary composer, but this applies to American composers more.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 20, 2020, 05:25:23 AM
I have been into contemporary classical music lately, but often I am into composer who have been born 1930 or later so Holmboe might be 2 decades too early stylistically to be interesting as a contemporary composer.

Holmboe was the teacher of Per Norgard, who was born in 1932, and Norgard and other composers of the 1930s generation did take after Holmboe to a degree. So, Holmboe doesn’t necessarily sound as old-fashioned as you might expect. (Kind of like how Olivier Messiaen was born in 1908, but in certain works sounds like a whole generation later.)

Also, Holmboe had an avant-garde period of sorts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he saw his former students turning to total chromaticism and serialism, and he decided to dabble in that himself for a while.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Brian on March 20, 2020, 06:01:04 AM
Holmboe has been championed mainly by labels Dacapo and BIS, neither of them especially cheap.
Dacapo's boxed sets, which are usually very nicely made and have excellent booklets, often come on sale at nice prices. I've purchased several of them, including Holmboe's chamber and string symphonies, Langgaard's symphonies, and Buxtehude's organ music...none were more than US $30.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 20, 2020, 07:31:49 AM
Also, European buyers shouldn’t consider Dacapo an especially expensive label. I just ordered Dacapo’s two recent Holmboe chamber works CDs from JPC.de, the cost was 10€ each.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: vandermolen on March 20, 2020, 11:08:50 AM
Hmm. Well symphonies 9 and 10 are among my favourites, regardless of what a different performance might reveal.

Also, 32 pages of discussion... a lot of that is my fault.  :laugh:
No 10 is one of my favourites too, along with 4 (great opening), 6,7 and 8. However I think that Sixten Ehrling's old LP made more impression on me than the BIS CD:
(http://)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 11:24:10 AM
Also, European buyers shouldn’t consider Dacapo an especially expensive label. I just ordered Dacapo’s two recent Holmboe chamber works CDs from JPC.de, the cost was 10€ each.

Sure you can find these discs cheap these days, but back when I got into classical music I was buying 4 Naxos CDs for the price of 3 (3*8 euros) in the local stores and other labels where 22 euros per disc. That made me a Naxos guy and also made composers like Holmboe totally drop out of my radar because when I bought non-Naxos discs it was because I had heard great music on radio.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 11:37:46 AM
Dacapo's boxed sets, which are usually very nicely made and have excellent booklets, often come on sale at nice prices. I've purchased several of them, including Holmboe's chamber and string symphonies, Langgaard's symphonies, and Buxtehude's organ music...none were more than US $30.

I don't know if I like Holmboe at all, or if I like his symphonies or chamber music or something else... ...my point is there's so many composers out there it's near impossible to explore all of them in any reasonable depth. I believe we all have these composers which simply remain unknown to us because we simply don't have the money, time and energy. Exploring composers just to explore is tedious work for the most part. I want to hear something that blows my mind which makes me explore because I am obsessed. That happens maybe once a year. The last few years I have been into US politics which has taken my time, but now I feel completely fed up with politics and I feel like going back to HAPPY days of political apathy where time can be used to listen to music...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: JBS on March 20, 2020, 11:47:15 AM
Sure you can find these discs cheap these days, but back when I got into classical music I was buying 4 Naxos CDs for the price of 3 (3*8 euros) in the local stores and other labels where 22 euros per disc. That made me a Naxos guy and also made composers like Holmboe totally drop out of my radar because when I bought non-Naxos discs it was because I had heard great music on radio.

Naxos prices have gone up a bit. They seem now to be in the $10-13 US range.

You might be better off with a streaming service.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 11:47:51 AM
Holmboe was the teacher of Per Norgard, who was born in 1932, and Norgard and other composers of the 1930s generation did take after Holmboe to a degree. So, Holmboe doesn’t necessarily sound as old-fashioned as you might expect. (Kind of like how Olivier Messiaen was born in 1908, but in certain works sounds like a whole generation later.)

Also, Holmboe had an avant-garde period of sorts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he saw his former students turning to total chromaticism and serialism, and he decided to dabble in that himself for a while.

Well, the style determines how old-fashioned I want it to be. Messiaen is a "difficult" composer for me so if Holmboe is similar I may not like it. I'm not a fan of serialism either, althou I do like Alban Berg. I prever the more modern stuff that returns to tonality. However this all depends. How a composer using a certain style is more important than the style.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 11:54:03 AM
Naxos prices have gone up a bit. They seem now to be in the $10-13 US range.

You might be better off with a streaming service.

Yes they have and I do buy significantly less Naxos these days. When Brilliant Classics emerged on the market, Naxos lost it's special place and at the same time Amazon started having "sellers" of used discs and around 2010 I was buying used CDs for under £2 delivered.  ;D When you can buy some stuff at that price, a £10 Holmboe disc looks kind of expensive.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: JBS on March 20, 2020, 12:02:54 PM
Well, the style determines how old-fashioned I want it to be. Messiaen is a "difficult" composer for me so if Holmboe is similar I may not like it. I'm not a fan of serialism either, althou I do like Alban Berg. I prever the more modern stuff that returns to tonality. However this all depends. How a composer using a certain style is more important than the style.

I find Messiaen to be much more "difficult" than Holmboe.  I am like you in preferring music that has some connection to tonality.

Yes they have and I do buy significantly less Naxos these days. When Brilliant Classics emerged on the market, Naxos lost it's special place and at the same time Amazon started having "sellers" of used discs and around 2010 I was buying used CDs for under £2 delivered.  ;D When you can buy some stuff at that price, a £10 Holmboe disc looks kind of expensive.

Quick check of Amazon US shows some (not all of them) of the BIS symphony CDs offered at $3-5 plus shipping for used copies (the complete set is not cheap, however, even used). Would that be in your price range?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 12:14:14 PM
I find Messiaen to be much more "difficult" than Holmboe.  I am like you in preferring music that has some connection to tonality.

Ok. I think Alban Berg has a brilliant "connection" to tonality.

Quick check of Amazon US shows some (not all of them) of the BIS symphony CDs offered at $3-5 plus shipping for used copies (the complete set is not cheap, however, even used). Would that be in your price range?

Well, I don't order anything from US anymore*, but European Amazons** may have good deals. However, I am not shopping. I expressed how Holmboe has remained unknown for me. I didn't say I'm changing it.

* shipping to Finland ridiculously costly rendering cheap items expensive + fear of custom bills.

** there has been rumours of Finnish/Nordic Amazon which would be great. When I order from UK Amazon, it takes like 2 weeks to receive the item! It's not like in UK or US where you have these same day deliveries. That's one of the very few things that SUCK in Finland. Despite of this, Finland was just ranked the happiest country in the World third year in the row.  :)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: JBS on March 20, 2020, 12:21:12 PM
Ok. I think Alban Berg has a brilliant "connection" to tonality.

Well, I don't order anything from US anymore*, but European Amazons** may have good deals. However, I am not shopping. I expressed how Holmboe has remained unknown for me. I didn't say I'm changing it.

* shipping to Finland ridiculously costly rendering cheap items expensive + fear of custom bills.

** there has been rumours of Finnish/Nordic Amazon which would be great. When I order from UK Amazon, it takes like 2 weeks to receive the item! It's not like in UK or US where you have these same day deliveries. That's one of the very few things that SUCK in Finland. Despite of this, Finland was just ranked the happiest country in the World third year in the row.  :)

Amazon US is obviously quickest for me to check, but their marketplace vendors are usually the same as Amazon Europe. I wasn't actually expecting you to order from the US, but prices are probably similar to Europe. Have you ever used Amazon Germany?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 20, 2020, 12:36:52 PM
Amazon US is obviously quickest for me to check, but their marketplace vendors are usually the same as Amazon Europe. I wasn't actually expecting you to order from the US, but prices are probably similar to Europe. Have you ever used Amazon Germany?

Yes, I have used Amazon Germany, but not as much as UK Amazon. Germany releases some Blu-rays UK doesn't (the differences within Europe regarding Blu-ray releases is astonishing! Not much else is the same than the new blockbuster flicks - for older/obscure movies it's fragmented as hell). Amazon.de has usually higher market place seller shipping prices, but the delivery is usually much quicker than from UK (geographical distance to Finland almost the same). Brexit may force more business with Germany...  :P
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 20, 2020, 02:47:43 PM
I think with the BIS symphonies we're very grateful to have them but we realise they could be played better.  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on March 20, 2020, 04:48:40 PM
I’m not entirely sure how people can know that for the many symphonies where no other recording exists. Unless you’ve been at a live performance, which in most parts of the world is pretty unlikely.

Having said that, I’ve been meaning to try some of the few alternatives, such as the original recording of no.10. I’m pretty sure I saw it’s online these days.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on March 20, 2020, 11:03:38 PM
I'm just going by the fact that when I have heard non-BIS recordings of Holmboe symphonies they sound better than the BIS recordings.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on March 21, 2020, 03:31:32 AM
I find Messiaen to be much more "difficult" than Holmboe.  I am like you in preferring music that has some connection to tonality.

Except for a couple of minor works in the 1950s that few ever hear, Messiaen never broke his connection to tonality. If you find Messiaen challenging, which is fair, then this is likely due to form or language and not harmony per se.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: 71 dB on March 21, 2020, 05:39:43 AM
Except for a couple of minor works in the 1950s that few ever hear, Messiaen never broke his connection to tonality. If you find Messiaen challenging, which is fair, then this is likely due to form or language and not harmony per se.

Form and language are the problem for me.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on March 21, 2020, 01:19:46 PM
I just bought one of the BIS Holmboe discs after seeing it at a local book store. It is Owain Arwel Hughes conducting the symphonies 1, 3 & 10. I have yet to hear any of it yet as I'm kind of hooked on Tubin at the moment, and for some reason I expect I will end up comparing one to the other if I explore their music simultaneously. Fairly soon I will write back in this thread with my thoughts. 32 pages of discussion means that Holmboe must be an important composer to many of y'all here.

If you like his Symphony No. 8 Sinfonia Boreale, then you're a convert, or you should be it.  ;D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 07, 2020, 11:42:56 AM
Quartet question

This is prompted by seeing that a new Holmboe quartet cycle has started recording.

I've never heard any of his quartets. What would be a good starter disc?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 07, 2020, 02:21:13 PM
Quartet question

This is prompted by seeing that a new Holmboe quartet cycle has started recording.

I've never heard any of his quartets. What would be a good starter disc?

Um, to be honest I'm not sure there is quite such a thing as a good starter... It's a bit like Shostakovich in that there really aren't any 'early' quartets (whereas there are plenty of early symphonies). And the more approachable ones are kind of scattered around.

I'd say maybe the disc with 2/5/6  or the one with 10/11/12 (I think no.11 is one of the easiest ones to get a handle on).

The first volume by the Nightingale Quartet was actually already supposed to be out, but has been pushed back by the pandemic. I'm now seeing January as a release date?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on October 07, 2020, 02:37:16 PM
I've always wanted further recordings of the symphonies (with bigger orchestral sound and a more 'romantic' approach, not that there aren't good things about Hughes on BIS - symphonies 1, 11-13 are really good, IMO, for example), and the string quartets (where I'm not a big fan of the Kontra4 sound generally, and the elder series of LP recordings have poor audio).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 07, 2020, 03:18:43 PM
For the symphonies, Da Capo actually told me they were looking at a cycle of recordings when I visited their offices in 2015 (yes, I did do that). I guess it didn't happen.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 07, 2020, 03:54:45 PM

I'd say maybe the disc with 2/5/6  or the one with 10/11/12 (I think no.11 is one of the easiest ones to get a handle on).


Do you find the quality of the 4tets is very even (like DSCH)? Or are some clearly better than others?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 07, 2020, 05:07:20 PM
Do you find the quality of the 4tets is very even (like DSCH)? Or are some clearly better than others?

I think the quality is fairly even. Obviously there are some that I've personally responded to a little more than others, but I can't say I think of any of them as particularly weak. Any recommendation of where to start would be based on which ones I think are easier to grasp, because a lot of Holmboe's music is a little hard to unlock on a first listen.

EDIT: I think the sound on the 1/3/4 disc is not as good as the later ones.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on October 07, 2020, 08:31:55 PM
For the symphonies, Da Capo actually told me they were looking at a cycle of recordings when I visited their offices in 2015 (yes, I did do that). I guess it didn't happen.

Whenever Dacapo has re-recorded something already done on BIS, I have always been disappointed. I know that people talk about “acclaimed producer Preben Iwan”, but Dacapo recordings always feel flat and lifeless to me, even the SACDs.

With regard to Holmboe’s String Quartets, I have a hard time telling them apart. Except for the very last ones, they are written in more or less the same language with the same approaches to form. I have been meaning to go through the whole cycle again and note down on a piece of paper which quartets impressed me the most, so that I can remember to go to those in future listening. Otherwise, it’s a big blur.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on October 07, 2020, 09:24:19 PM
Um, to be honest I'm not sure there is quite such a thing as a good starter... It's a bit like Shostakovich in that there really aren't any 'early' quartets (whereas there are plenty of early symphonies). And the more approachable ones are kind of scattered around.

I'd say maybe the disc with 2/5/6  or the one with 10/11/12 (I think no.11 is one of the easiest ones to get a handle on).

The first volume by the Nightingale Quartet was actually already supposed to be out, but has been pushed back by the pandemic. I'm now seeing January as a release date?

I'd also recommend the Kontra Quartet's 1, 3, and 4. I find it difficult to pick favorites among Holmboe's quartets, but #4 and #5 rank pretty highly for me.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 08, 2020, 01:22:34 AM
Whenever Dacapo has re-recorded something already done on BIS, I have always been disappointed. I know that people talk about “acclaimed producer Preben Iwan”, but Dacapo recordings always feel flat and lifeless to me, even the SACDs.

With regard to Holmboe’s String Quartets, I have a hard time telling them apart. Except for the very last ones, they are written in more or less the same language with the same approaches to form. I have been meaning to go through the whole cycle again and note down on a piece of paper which quartets impressed me the most, so that I can remember to go to those in future listening. Otherwise, it’s a big blur.

On BIS vs Da Capo are you talking about Holmboe specifically or more generally?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 08, 2020, 07:06:45 AM
With regard to Holmboe’s String Quartets, I have a hard time telling them apart. Except for the very last ones, they are written in more or less the same language with the same approaches to form. I have been meaning to go through the whole cycle again and note down on a piece of paper which quartets impressed me the most, so that I can remember to go to those in future listening. Otherwise, it’s a big blur.

Not a good sign, IMHO. Though to be fair, if I listened to all of Haydn's quartets in a row, I might have the same impression.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on October 08, 2020, 07:37:58 AM
Differentiating the expression more could be one of the hopes for the new quartet cycle.
After all, the symphonies can be quite different from each other (and probably even more, than it is the case with the BIS set, cf. also the other, old LP recordings of symphonies 7, 8, 10 ...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 08, 2020, 10:52:27 AM
I found the complete Da Capo cycle on YouTube and listened to #2. Sounds a lot like Bartok. Very cool. I look forward to exploring more.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on October 08, 2020, 11:10:06 AM
Yes, and I've never been sure to what extent Holmboe was directly influenced by Bartok, and to what extent the similarity reflects his interest in (and direct experience with) the same folk music that Bartok studied. I don't ever feel that Holmboe directly copied Bartok, but there's a definite affinity of style there. And the similarity wasn't always apparent -- it's very strong in the first three quartets, but then less so in 4, 5, and 6 imo (except for the scherzo movements of 4 and 6). Then it's again strong in the 2nd movement of 7, and crops up from time to time before disappearing altogether after the 14th quartet. Holmboe's late music, from the early 1970's on (in all genres) is very different from his earlier work, and the change probably has much to do with his rejection of the (relative) avant-gardism of his student Per Norgard and other composers of that generation.

That's not to say that his later music is completely devoid of eastern European influence - listen e.g. to one of his last works, Haiduc for violin and piano, or to his very late Viola Concerto.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: T. D. on October 08, 2020, 07:18:49 PM
Thanks, interesting discussion. I've been looking for 20th (or 21st?) century string quartet cycles to explore (off the top of my head have Bartok, DSCH, Carter, Weinberg, Britten, Tippett, Martinu, Haba, Ben Johnston, David Diamond and some others whose names escape me). I'm reading enough lukewarm comments on the Kontra Quartet to steer me away from the Da Capo set. Will try to audition 1 disc, search  Youtube, etc.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 08, 2020, 07:53:26 PM
I'm reading enough lukewarm comments on the Kontra Quartet to steer me away from the Da Capo set.

Well, finding other options is not simple, and you'll only find older recordings that probably don't have great sound.

http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com/2015/03/string-quartets.html

Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: T. D. on October 08, 2020, 08:29:53 PM
Well, finding other options is not simple, and you'll only find older recordings that probably don't have great sound.

http://vagn-holmboe-discography.blogspot.com/2015/03/string-quartets.html

Thanks, I see the lack of options. That same issue (mixed reviews of only available complete set) arose with the Myaskovsky quartet cycle I'm also considering.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 08, 2020, 08:45:48 PM
Thanks, I see the lack of options. That same issue (mixed reviews of only available complete set) arose with the Myaskovsky quartet cycle I'm also considering.

Really, the best thing to do is to try some samples and see what you think. I do know some people find the sound 'dry'. Personally I don't have a problem with it, except I think the disc with quartets 1, 3 and 4 is slightly inferior sound to the others.

The alternative is to wait until the Nightingale Quartet's first volume is finally released, hopefully in January. I'll certainly be interested to hear if it's noticeably different from Kontra.

And of course I personally find the music pretty fascinating but that's just me!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 08, 2020, 08:54:48 PM
Oh. Classics Today has in fact reviewed the first Nightingale volume.

https://www.classicstoday.com/review/a-new-vagn-holmboe-quartet-cycle-begins/

Which is weird if it's not coming out until January as I'd seen on one website. And the buying link from Classics Today goes to Arkiv Music, which also says January. But then it says 'in stock'...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: T. D. on October 08, 2020, 09:33:04 PM
Thanks. Rather timely! That new release is definitely one to consider.
In the meantime, I found a compromise. Bought the Kontra Q's 2-CD Langgaard set for $8 used. Cheap way to evaluate the Kontras' sound and hear some interesting new (to me) music, while deferring decisions on Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on October 09, 2020, 04:39:46 AM
I'm not sure I'd make a blanket statement that the Kontras' readings of the Holmboe quartets are problematic, or not so good, or whatever derogatory adjective you want to use. Without other interpretations to compare them against, it is difficult to make any such judgment, and so I'll be interested to hear the Nightingale version. I do agree with Madiel that the audio quality on the Kontras' first CD (1, 3, and 4) is a bit weird, and needs a little tweaking of the equalizer settings - and surround sound (I think the recording might be out of phase - to sound really good. I'd say the same thing of the audio on #6 (but NOT 2 and 5, on the same CD). Those technical complaints aside, I'm generally pleased with the Kontras' musicality in these quartets, and they certainly sound to my ears like idiomatic Holmboe through and through.

BTW, something to keep in mind re: Holmboe's string quartets: there are NO "early" works among them. #1 comes between the 6th and 7th Symphonies and is remarkably mature. I listened to it yesterday (Kontra) for the first time in about a year, and I was enchanted by the second movement (especially) with its arresting, forte (or maybe even fortissimo) double-stopped passages and constant changes of texture and dynamics. It all sounds quasi-Bartokian, but you'd never mistake it for Bartok - Holmboe has very much his own distinctive voice by that point in his output.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on October 09, 2020, 04:49:19 AM
As a side remark, Holmboe says in an interview from his house, available on you-tube, that he had composed 10 (!) further, unofficial string quartets too, in his early years ...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on October 09, 2020, 04:52:15 AM
As a side remark, Holmboe said in an interview from his house, that he had composed 10 (!) further, unofficial string quartets too in his early years ...

Quite true! Looking through this list of his works, I'm always awed by how prolific a composer he was... and by how much of his music has yet to be recorded, or in many cases even performed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Vagn_Holmboe)

Edit: that interview also features the Koppel Quartet (I think) playing the first movement of Holmboe's Quartet #6 -- definitely not to be missed, and a bit different from the Kontras' reading.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on October 09, 2020, 05:10:20 AM
Yes, if including the early ones, I'm not aware of any other 20th century composers reaching that number, though Ian Wilson is past 20 too ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_string_quartet_composers

(Among his compatriots, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen seems to have composed 14, and Niels Viggo Bentzon 16).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: CRCulver on October 10, 2020, 07:09:44 AM
Oh. Classics Today has in fact reviewed the first Nightingale volume.

https://www.classicstoday.com/review/a-new-vagn-holmboe-quartet-cycle-begins/

Which is weird if it's not coming out until January as I'd seen on one website.

Labels right now have to space out their releases, because COVID is preventing them from making new recordings. So, this new Holmboe SQ recording is finished and can go out to the reviewers already, but Dacapo feels January would be the best month to release it. (And ordinarily review copies are sent out 1.5–3 months in advance of release anyway.)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 10, 2020, 05:30:19 PM
Labels right now have to space out their releases, because COVID is preventing them from making new recordings. So, this new Holmboe SQ recording is finished and can go out to the reviewers already, but Dacapo feels January would be the best month to release it. (And ordinarily review copies are sent out 1.5–3 months in advance of release anyway.)

The last part I didn't know. But the original release date for this was some months ago, so I knew it was coming eventually.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 11, 2020, 05:48:46 AM
And of course I personally find the music pretty fascinating but that's just me!

No, not just you.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on October 11, 2020, 04:07:07 PM
No, not just you.

Definitely not! :D
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on October 24, 2020, 06:18:43 PM
I'm in the process of trying to make a proper database out of the mess of material on my blog.

The last full Da Capo album before the upcoming string quartets release was in 2013.  The last BIS recording was in 2009. This is rather disappointing.

There was a real steady stream of activity from both companies from 1992, but that stream has rather dried up.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on November 21, 2020, 09:30:16 PM
I found this interview with Holmboe in what seems like a TV program, and someone playing one of his piano works:

https://youtube.com/v/WYWRhUGPYe4
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on November 22, 2020, 12:53:42 AM
I found this interview with Holmboe in what seems like a TV program, and someone playing one of his piano works:

https://youtube.com/v/WYWRhUGPYe4

Cool! Although he's mostly talking too fast for my tired brain and my lack of recent Danish practice. The other TV footage I've seen he's older and slower.  ;D

The Romanian Suite is on this album:

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81fswgSKYZL._SS500_.jpg)

Also, I see the Youtube upload is by Jens Cornelius. He's written many of the Da Capo liner notes.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on November 22, 2020, 01:09:01 AM
Nice video clip, and interesting. Tells a lot about the man and his personality, the reflective, bookish intellect, and apparently a happy, equal marriage. So he learned Romanian too ...
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Camphy on December 19, 2020, 08:01:12 AM
https://youtube.com/v/ccGfDP28hrk
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 19, 2020, 08:16:46 AM
Thank you, lovely. I didn't make a direct comparison with the Kontra4, but this seems better to me: a good bass line, melodical sense, 'breathing'...

The sequences are from Holmens Kirke church in Copenhagen, and the Arresø lake near Holmboe's home; they could probably have made the latter ones more visually fascinating. But: definitely seems to be an interesting release, and quite essential Holmboe.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 19, 2020, 09:53:49 AM
Indeed, beautifully played! I didn't do a direct comparison with Kontra either, but from memory, my impression is that this one is even more expressive, with beautiful phrasing, impeccable dynamics, and as MT said, they really let the music "breathe".

And for those not familiar with this particular movement (and since I didn't see it specifically identified), this is the Andante quasi giacona from Holmboe's 3rd SQ.

Thanks, MT, for identifying the locale... I would have wondered if that was Arresø.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 19, 2020, 10:15:15 AM
Some more info: according to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/ (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/)), they're holding a release event for the new CD on 7 January at Holmens Kirke. They claim you can also pre-order a CD at their website, and I filled out the form, expecting to be prompted for payment info, but instead my form seems to have vanished into the aether. No auto-acknowledgement at the email address I supplied. So maybe the website is broken, not sure.

In any case, from that sample movement, I really want to hear the rest of their Holmboe, and will be ordering a copy as soon as it's possible.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 19, 2020, 10:22:12 AM
Some more info: according to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/ (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/)), they're holding a release event for the new CD on 7 January at Holmens Kirke. They claim you can also pre-order a CD at their website, and I filled out the form, expecting to be prompted for payment info, but instead my form seems to have vanished into the aether. No auto-acknowledgement at the email address I supplied. So maybe the website is broken, not sure.

In any case, from that sample movement, I really want to hear the rest of their Holmboe, and will be ordering a copy as soon as it's possible.

The release event is probably hit by the recent virus restrictions, running at least until January 3rd, and highly likely later too, prohibiting meetings of more than 10 people. I don't know if they'll maybe try some virtual or limited event, but we'll see.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 19, 2020, 10:39:46 AM
And since this thread's been revived, I thought I'd rave for a bit... I've been listening again to some of Hughes recordings of the Holmboe symphonies, and this one really stands out to me. Especially the 9th, which seems to just keep getting better and better. The work is unlike anything else Holmboe wrote, and indeed, is like no other music. The orchestral palette has been described as "impressionistic", but expressively this is about as far from the world of Ravel and Debussy as you can get. The first movement is one of the best examples I know of "organic growth", in the sense of something that grows naturally out of a few germinal cells. The second movement, for side drum and strings alone, is almost inaudibly quiet and attenuated, almost Webernesque. I think Rob Barnett wrote that Holmboe seemed to be evoking the "shimmer and ripple of eternity", and IMO that's spot on. There is elemental power in the third movement; a very wistful mood in the fourth, this time for strings alone, and full of Holmboe's wonderful polyphony; and the fifth takes up motifs from the third movement and concludes in an atmosphere of tragedy.

Of the two works on the CD, the 8th makes the more immediate first impression as it's powerful and stirring and quite approachable. The 9th takes repeated listenings to penetrate into its unique sound world -- at least it did for me -- but IMO it's well worth it if you like tonal 20th century music.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/516J8RXQ26L.jpg)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 19, 2020, 10:44:20 AM
The release event is probably hit by the recent virus restrictions, running at least until January 3rd, and highly likely later too, prohibiting meetings of more than 10 people. I don't know if they'll maybe try some virtual or limited event, but we'll see.

Their FB page mentions the virus restrictions, and implies that seating will be limited (you have to reserve a seat online). So my guess is, it will take place in person... whether they'll also have a virtual event, we'll just have to wait and see.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 19, 2020, 11:34:15 AM
The concept with concert ticket reservations predates the latest restrictions, ensuring a minimum space for each guest, with empty seats between them. The only exception from the 10 persons rule are church services, weddings & funerals "etc.", where 50 people are allowed, but in groups of 10. A concert with the Nightingale Quartet in the same church on the 5th of January was cancelled due to the virus (https://sogn.dk/holmen/kalender/ ; "aflyst" meaning cancelled, "udskudt" meaning postponed).

But it's like they're hoping for restrictions to perhaps be loosened after January 3rd, or, much less likely, that it somehow could count as a ~church event at the time.

Not so nice for them; I can think of more esoteric recording projects though, and there must be some international interest for the series, also promoted by the success of the Langgaard series (likewise better than the Kontra4 Langgaard set, IMO).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 19, 2020, 12:09:40 PM
I get the Da Capo newsletter so I knew the Nightingale disc was officially back on after a delay. But that video sample is very promising.

As for the symphonies, I agree that the 8/9 combination is a highlight. The 9th is one of the hardest symphonies to crack but well worth it (and indeed comes from a period with, in my opinion, some of Holmboe’s most difficult but most rewarding music).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Christo on December 19, 2020, 12:20:41 PM
And since this thread's been revived, I thought I'd rave for a bit... I've been listening again to some of Hughes recordings of the Holmboe symphonies, and this one really stands out to me. Especially the 9th, which seems to just keep getting better and better. The work is unlike anything else Holmboe wrote, and indeed, is like no other music. The orchestral palette has been described as "impressionistic", but expressively this is about as far from the world of Ravel and Debussy as you can get. The first movement is one of the best examples I know of "organic growth", in the sense of something that grows naturally out of a few germinal cells. The second movement, for side drum and strings alone, is almost inaudibly quiet and attenuated, almost Webernesque. I think Rob Barnett wrote that Holmboe seemed to be evoking the "shimmer and ripple of eternity", and IMO that's spot on. There is elemental power in the third movement; a very wistful mood in the fourth, this time for strings alone, and full of Holmboe's wonderful polyphony; and the fifth takes up motifs from the third movement and concludes in an atmosphere of tragedy.

Of the two works on the CD, the 8th makes the more immediate first impression as it's powerful and stirring and quite approachable. The 9th takes repeated listenings to penetrate into its unique sound world -- at least it did for me -- but IMO it's well worth it if you like tonal 20th century music.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/516J8RXQ26L.jpg)

It's my favourite Holmboe cd, too, and for very similar reasons. At first, it's the Eight that draws all attention, but slowly the Ninth took over.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: calyptorhynchus on December 19, 2020, 01:28:52 PM
“Sigh” I’m so much of a completist I want the nightingale4 to have already recorded all the 4tets so i can order the big box.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 20, 2020, 04:57:58 AM
As for the symphonies, I agree that the 8/9 combination is a highlight. The 9th is one of the hardest symphonies to crack but well worth it (and indeed comes from a period with, in my opinion, some of Holmboe’s most difficult but most rewarding music).

Very much agreed... thinking especially of the Op. 90 Quartet (string trio plus flute) and the Chamber Symphony No. 2, plus the slightly later 10th String Quartet. There is so much from this period, though (late 1960s) that has never been recorded (such as the Op. 97 Trio for flute, cello, piano) that one wonders what other gems are in there as well, waiting to be discovered.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 20, 2020, 04:59:09 AM
“Sigh” I’m so much of a completist I want the nightingale4 to have already recorded all the 4tets so i can order the big box.

Patience, grasshopper...  ;)
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on December 20, 2020, 08:24:13 AM
Happy birthday, Vagn! I was revisiting his Sinfonía boreale. I don't like to seem repetitive, but this is an utterly extraordinary composition. A desert-island symphony for me.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 20, 2020, 08:29:22 AM
Happy birthday, Vagn! I was revisiting his Sinfonía boreale. I don't like to seem repetitive, but this is an utterly extraordinary composition. A desert-island symphony for me.

Indeed, he turns eleventy-one today. Here's hoping his star continues to rise!
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 20, 2020, 12:47:22 PM
Some more info: according to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/ (https://www.facebook.com/nightingalestringquartet/)), they're holding a release event for the new CD on 7 January at Holmens Kirke. They claim you can also pre-order a CD at their website, and I filled out the form, expecting to be prompted for payment info, but instead my form seems to have vanished into the aether. No auto-acknowledgement at the email address I supplied. So maybe the website is broken, not sure.

In any case, from that sample movement, I really want to hear the rest of their Holmboe, and will be ordering a copy as soon as it's possible.

Update: my order didn't vanish! I just received an email from "NSQ Sales" giving the available payment options, and just sent mine via Paypal. So apparently it IS possible to pre-order, and hopefully everything will go through smoothly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 21, 2020, 11:43:02 AM
Good that things function here ... The mentioned CD release event at Holmens Kirke on January 7th is however now characterized as 'udskudt' /postponed.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 21, 2020, 12:46:28 PM
Good that things function here ... The mentioned CD release event at Holmens Kirke on January 7th is however now characterized as 'udskudt' /postponed.

That was probably inevitable... but it's odd that this information hasn't been posted yet to their Facebook page, and they are still advertising tickets to the event. Out of curiosity, where did you find it?
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 21, 2020, 01:02:32 PM
On the church's calendar
https://sogn.dk/holmen/kalender/

February might be an option, but this intensified virus wave isn't expected to die out very quickly.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on December 21, 2020, 01:09:37 PM
Thanks. Yes, I would not expect it to abate much until spring or even summer... unless the pace of vaccinations quickens greatly (which is unlikely given the reported supply problems of even the current two).
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: MusicTurner on December 21, 2020, 01:14:14 PM
Yes, as a side remark, current estimates here are that just the vaccines for the first group, comprising the fragile people and health workers etc., might take up to 6 months from now. So that things could be more normal at the end of 2021.
But then, the vaccines actually came earlier than expected, and they even cut a bit of the time here in the last few days. And more vaccine types are coming too. So perhaps that is just the 'safest' estimate.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on December 21, 2020, 01:22:05 PM
Samples from the new album are up in various places (I’ve spotted them on iTunes and the Presto site). I do like the sound of what I’m hearing. It seems richer than the Kontra.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Madiel on January 11, 2021, 03:59:36 AM
Thanks to the wonders of streaming I've compared the Nightingale first volume to the Kontra in the same works (quartets 1, 3 and 15).

It's been an interesting exercise. I wouldn't say there are many enormous interpretative differences. My impression are the Kontra are a little sharper edged, and the Nightingale have a slightly warmer and more varied palette.

Certainly there were moments where I thought that the Nightingale were allowing me to hear the music a bit differently, with just a fraction more colour and shape (helped of course by being very nicely recorded), and I guess a lyric quality. Against that are certain moments where I just wasn't as convinced by what they were doing. So, for example, while I found the Nightingale to have lots of nice moments in the first 2 movements of SQ no.1, their finale was a bit disappointing. It's a sort of perpetual motion whereas the Kontra make it a much more pointed 5/4 dance. This was one of the most specific differences between the two ensembles and it's one where I definitely came down on the Kontra side.

Similarly in SQ no.15, there are some really nice moments from the Nightingale, but somehow the 2nd movement just sort of passed me by. As for SQ no.3, well, I guess this exercise demonstrated to me that it's not one of my favourite works anyway, as neither performance enthused me more than the other.

So I'm not feeling a clear 'winner' here. Are the Kontra good? Yes, I generally think so. Are the Nightingale good? Yes, so far I think they're generally pretty good. Not better, just different. Some definite strengths, but sometimes not preferable.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2021, 07:46:15 AM
Thanks to the wonders of streaming I've compared the Nightingale first volume to the Kontra in the same works (quartets 1, 3 and 15).

It's been an interesting exercise. I wouldn't say there are many enormous interpretative differences. My impression are the Kontra are a little sharper edged, and the Nightingale have a slightly warmer and more varied palette.

Certainly there were moments where I thought that the Nightingale were allowing me to hear the music a bit differently, with just a fraction more colour and shape (helped of course by being very nicely recorded), and I guess a lyric quality. Against that are certain moments where I just wasn't as convinced by what they were doing. So, for example, while I found the Nightingale to have lots of nice moments in the first 2 movements of SQ no.1, their finale was a bit disappointing. It's a sort of perpetual motion whereas the Kontra make it a much more pointed 5/4 dance. This was one of the most specific differences between the two ensembles and it's one where I definitely came down on the Kontra side.

Similarly in SQ no.15, there are some really nice moments from the Nightingale, but somehow the 2nd movement just sort of passed me by. As for SQ no.3, well, I guess this exercise demonstrated to me that it's not one of my favourite works anyway, as neither performance enthused me more than the other.

So I'm not feeling a clear 'winner' here. Are the Kontra good? Yes, I generally think so. Are the Nightingale good? Yes, so far I think they're generally pretty good. Not better, just different. Some definite strengths, but sometimes not preferable.

I’ll probably end up just sticking with the Kontras in these SQs. I really like their set and the performances so far have been top-drawer. I need to become more familiar with these SQs.
Title: Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Post by: krummholz on January 11, 2021, 09:20:02 AM
Thanks to the wonders of streaming I've compared the Nightingale first volume to the Kontra in the same works (quartets 1, 3 and 15).

Interesting comments, thanks. I've pre-ordered the CD, but I don't expect it to be delivered until maybe March. Tried streaming the album on Spotify, but blaringly loud ads burst in at random times and basically ruined the experience, so I'll have to wait to deliver my judgment.

It doesn't surprise me to hear you say they're not better, just different. I'm still happy for the opportunity to hear different interpretations of these works.  I do love the quartets as performed by the Kontras, but have never assumed that they were the last word in this music.