Johannes Søe Hansen

Vagn Holmboe: Works for Volin & Piano

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Listeners who like Vagn Holmboe's symphonies will probably enjoy his music for violin and piano. While they lack the shimmering colors of his orchestral music, the Danish modernist's violin works are full of the same sorts of memorable tunes, bracing harmonies, and rousing rhythms, set in strongly shaped forms. As this 2009 Dacapo disc with violinist Johannes Søe Hansen and pianist Christina Bjørkøe demonstrates, Holmboe's sonatas, particularly the last two, are solidly crafted and often inspired works, well-cast for their instrument's virtuoso capabilities without compromising the musical argument. Hansen has a big tone and a heroic technique, but is still able to sing a legato line in the central movements, while Bjørkøe accompanies him with sympathy and enthusiasm, challenging Hansen as much supporting him. The four shorter additional works, one for solo violin and the others for violin and piano, are all characteristic of the composer, and often more initially ingratiating than the sonatas. Though not for every listener -- those who object to tonal harmonies sometimes strained with dissonances may find these pieces hard to swallow -- those who enjoy post-Sibelius Scandinavian music need not hesitate, particularly in Dacapo's bright, beautiful digital sound.

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