Camerata Wales / Vagn Holmboe / Owain Arwel Hughes

Vagn Holmboe: String Sinfonias I-IV 'Kairos'

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This 2009 recording of Danish composer Vagn Holmboe's Kairos by Owain Arwel Hughes and the Camerata Wales isn't the first recording of the piece. The only previous recording, by Hannu Koivula and the Danish Radio Sinfonietta, dates from 1997 and spells the work "Chairos." Koivula's recording presents the piece first as four separate sinfonias for strings, and then as a single work with the four movements of the Fourth Sinfonia functioning as the prelude, interludes, and postlude of the first three sinfonias, while Hughes' recording presents the single unified work and adds a separate performance of the Fourth Sinfonia as a sort of addendum. This may sound confusing, but the work itself is quite straightforward: a hard-driving, sharp-edged piece of modernist music that starts where Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta ends, and takes it to the next level of excruciating intensity. Kairos will not be for everyone, but in this wholly sympathetic and thoroughly compelling performance, it will make the best possible impression. Listeners already familiar with Hughes' superlative recordings of Holmboe's complete symphonies for full orchestra will surely want to try this disc. BIS' digital sound is fresh and vivid.

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