The music of Danish composer Vagn Holmboe sounds a bit like what would have happened if Sibelius had lived long enough to absorb the music of the neo-classic movement, or perhaps if Bartók had spent some time in France in the 1920s. It is large, brilliantly orchestrated, with driving brass rhythms and influences from Eastern European folk music. Holmboe was prolific, and even if his works do not always sharply distinguish themselves one from another he deserves credit for having explored the possibilities of an individual style for more than 50 years. The Concerto for viola, Op. 189, was composed in 1992, when Holmboe was 82. Its Jewish melodic flavor was the result of its being composed for an Israeli violist, but the international cast of characters here (Norwegian violist, Russian conductor, Danish orchestra) puts across the overgrown-Bartók quality of the work. The Concerto for orchestra, which is more an overture than a concerto for orchestra in the sense in which Bartók or Hindemith used the term, was a student work but is characteristic of the composer's mature writing. The Violin Concerto No. 2, written in 1979, is a sort of East-meets-West mixture of Nielsen and Bartók, with vigorous solo writing well executed by Swedish violinist Erik Heide. Competent throughout, and recommended for listeners interested in the grand Scandinavian tradition.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto for Viola, Op. 189|
|Concerto No. 2, for violin, Op. 139|