Holmboe: Chamber Concerto No. 1; Chamber Concerto No. 2; Chamber Concerto No. 3

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: Chamber Concerto No. 1; Chamber Concerto No. 2; Chamber Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Anne Øland (piano), Niels Thomsen (clarinet), Mikkel Futtrup (violin), Eva Østergaard (flute); Danish Radio Concert Orchestra/Hannu Koivula
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224038
Dacapo’s series of the late Vagn Holmboe’s 13 ‘Chamber Concertos’ promises to be as nourishing and revelatory as BIS’s just-concluded collection of the symphonies. However, there is no awareness in the booklet copy that the Danish master eventually rescinded the ‘Chamber’ designation. Composed between 1939 and 1956, these fascinating displays of instrumental virtuosity establish generic parallels with, say, Hindemith’s Kammermusik concertos, but they tend to at least Classical-size (though not classically constituted) orchestras, and evince an expressive continuity with Holmboe’s symphonic music.


Individually they’re strong, wise and cunningly crafted. No. 1 (1939) is a piano concerto in two oddly-balanced parts, the huge first movement almost redolent of Vaughan Williams in its spacious polyphony, while the finale’s inebriate folk-burlesque reflects Holmboe’s early admiration for Bartók. No. 2 (1940) for flute, violin, percussion and strings conforms more readily (but luminously) to the ‘20th-century Brandenburg’ archetype. No. 3 (1940-2), a bravura clarinet concerto, is an inspired successor to Nielsen’s masterpiece in the genre, yet it was never played, it seems, before this recording. All the soloists are excellent, the performances dedicated, the sound good. The disc adds substantially to our knowledge of a composer whose achievement comes to seem ever more indispensable. Calum MacDonald