Holmboe: Symphony No. 11; Symphony No. 12; Symphony No. 13

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WORKS: Symphony No. 11; Symphony No. 12; Symphony No. 13
PERFORMER: Aarhus SO/Owain Arwel Hughes
BIS’s important and successful project to record all 13 symphonies by the Danish composer Vagn Holmboe (b.1909) comes to a conclusion with this disc of the three most recent, Nos 11-13, which span the years 1980-94. The economical orchestration of these late symphonies shows the composer paring down his textures to an eloquent, mildly dissonant transparency, seemingly expressing a bleak view of our times. Holmboe’s characteristic technique, which involves the exploration of possibilities suggested by an initial four- or five-note motif – often shaped into an arch form – makes for a pleasing unity, while an occasional ethereal sonority – also a Holmboe trait – is allowed to colour the sparse texture through a sensitively deployed harp in No. 12 and a celesta in Nos 11 and 13. Owain Arwel Hughes (dedicatee of the Thirteenth Symphony) and the Aarhus SO are persuasive advocates for Holmboe’s music. Deborah Calland