Holmboe: Requiem for Nietzsche

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Requiem for Nietzsche
PERFORMER: Helge Rønning (tenor), Johan Reuter (baritone); Danish National RSO & Choir/Michael Schønwandt
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224207
The Requiem for Nietzsche is one of Holmboe’s most inspired pieces and among the most powerful choral works of its time. Composed in 1963-4, just before the Seventh and Eighth Quartets, it was a succés d’estime on its first performance but then disappeared from view. It speaks with the distinctive and original voice we know from the symphonies, yet its language is new and exploratory. It is a work by which the composer set great store – and rightly so. Inspired by the Danish poet Thorkild Bjørnvig’s sonnets on events in the life of the philosopher Nietzsche, his years in Basel and his subsequent breakdown, it inhabits a sound-world that is glimpsed in earlier Holmboe but not so sharply focused or fully explored. There has been a long campaign for a recording of this piece, though pleas fell on deaf ears in the shallow musical climate of the late Sixties, and it is good to welcome its appearance now in so eloquent and committed a performance. Both the soloists are impressive and Michael Schønwandt and his chorus and orchestra seem totally possessed. The booklet annotator Paul Rapaport rightly speaks of it as ‘a remarkable and remarkably unusual work – in Holmboe’s output it is unique, as Nietzsche himself was in the last half of the 19th century’. Excellent sound, too. Robert Layton