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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, January 2013

Written throughout the period that Danish composer Vagn Holmboe…was also writing symphonies for full orchestra, these are expressively and technically the equal of their larger siblings. In fact, they are marvelously concentrated snapshots of his developing compositional style using continuous metamorphosis of thematic material.

Unbelievably, these are first recordings of these important works. Filling this gap in Holmboe’s discography is an important milestone in the ongoing noble effort of Dacapo…to make Holmboe’s work known outside of home turf. The composer is considered by many of his compatriots as the rightful successor to Carl Nielsen…he is one of the great musical voices of the 20th century. I suppose he really needs someone to champion his work on the world stage: a Bernstein to his Mahler. For now, he has impressive advocates in Finnish conductor John Storgårds and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra; they deserve special thanks for bringing these three remarkable chamber symphonies to the catalog in performances of such insight and technical perfection. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, December 2012

Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012

…energetic performances of [Holmboe’s] three chamber symphonies with Jan Storgårds leading the agile Lapland Chamber Orchestra. Holmboe’s music can be austere with melancholy or buoyant with color, but is always expertly crafted. Think of these three solid chamber symphonies in terms of sleek mid-century modern Danish furniture: deceptively simple, even glamorous lines; smooth, a little aloof, yet very sturdy. © 2012 National Public Radio Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, November 2012

[Vagn Holmboe’s] style is neoclassical, with touches of Hindemith, Shostakovich, and his Nordic contemporaries; the structures are convincing and satisfying. The pieces’ moods are often mysterious (especially the opening of the Chamber Symphony No. 2) yet stately; these symphonies are to be admired and taken very seriously.

…the playing is intense and emphatic… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review

Lee Passarella
Audiophile Audition, October 2012

If you’re not familiar with the music of Vagn Holmboe, this recording, noted as a world premiere, of the three chamber symphonies might be a good place to start. It not only introduces you to works that parallel similar developments in Holmboe’s symphonies of the same time periods, but it allows you to traverse a lot of ground in the development of the composer’s compositional style and technique.

I’ve been impressed with Finnish conductor John Storgårds’ recordings of music by Vasks, Klami, Aho, and other composers from the frozen North. I’m glad to report that he and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra do equal justice to the starkly beautiful music of Holmboe. The composer’s orchestral palette isn’t as dazzling as some of the other composers…but Dacapo’s natural-sounding surround recording renders them in colors faithful to that palette. If you want to know more about the work of Vagn Holmboe, here would be a very good place to start. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, October 2012

Excellent performances, superb sound: you will not hear a finer disc this year. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Tiina Kiik
The WholeNote, September 2012

Conductor John Storgårds achieves a detailed and colourful performance with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra. The string section especially is tireless in its execution of whirling lines and ensemble precision. A very enjoyable world premiere recording! © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, September 2012

Without a wasted note, this is rigorously compact, sinewy music that will grow on you with each listening. The composer’s principle of thematic metamorphosis is evident throughout these world premiere recordings.

These white-hot recordings by the Lapland Chamber Orchestra (LCO) under their artistic director John Storgårds belie the fact they were made in Rovaniemi, Finland, bordering on the frigid wastelands of the Arctic Circle. The playing here is technically as well as artistically of the highest order, proving the LCO’s thirty-two musicians are all virtuosos in their own right.

Done in the town church, the recordings create a spacious but detailed soundstage of considerable depth in an acceptably live acoustic. The many instrumental solos are ideally highlighted, and the orchestral timbre is very musical on all three tracks. The sound is characterized by sparkling highs, a convincing midrange, and low clean bass. © 2012 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, August 2012

[Vagn Holmboe’s] three chamber symphonies, recorded here for the first time in vivid, muscular performances by conductor John Storgards and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, would be enough to make a convert out of any listener. The sleekly neo-Classical Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1951) is followed in 1968-70 by two greater and more ambitious works, the expansive and expressive Chamber Symphony No. 2 (“Elegy”) and the chiseled mastery of the Chamber Symphony No. 2 (“Frieze”). But all three works boast similar qualities—clarity of design, melodic grace and a light-fingered yet profound mastery of the orchestra. © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, August 2012

Holmboe aficionados will be glad to hear of this world première recording of his symphonic output for the chamber orchestra format, his favored configuration. There’s plenty of finely constructed detail within his music that is well suited to the lesser forces. These works span over twenty years of his most creative period, and bear witness to a composer who had mastered his craft and never indulged in fads or new musical directions, and who stuck to his complex neo-romantic guns. Any fans of solid 20th century symphonic output will find something of interest in the music of Vagn Holmboe.

…the Lapland Chamber Orchestra performs and sounds like it’s in the big leagues. While some orchestras this size tend to sound anorexic, this one has a muscle/agility combo going on. © 2012 Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

Hannis Brown
WQXR (New York), July 2012

The music of Danish composer Vagn Holmboe hums with the sounds and metamorphoses of the natural world. The penman of nearly 400 works, Holmboe’s neoclassical stylings are marked by incessant transformation…and draw strongly from both folk traditions and the flora and fauna of his surroundings. On “Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies,” conductor John Storgårds and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra presents three such works that have never before seen the light of day.

The spiraling clarinet descent at the opening of Chamber Symphony No. 1…seemingly mimics the circling of a bird in the unsure light of dusk. The sky opens to a seesawing counterpoint of violins fluttering nimbly across the sky.

The even more dramatic Chamber Symphony No. 2…alternates dreamlike currents of mallets and flute with violent clouds of strings and percussion that swarm the landscape like locusts.

Holmboe’s third and final chamber symphony is the most fragmented of the three. With movement titles like “Sereno con variazioni” or “Serene with variations,” and “Chiaro” or “clear,” the work is also the least aggressive. Its final Allegro movement conjures images of beating wings and the ever mutating landscape of the natural world. © 2012 WQXR (New York) Read complete review

David Hurwitz, July 2012

Vagn Holmboe’s three chamber symphonies…are wonderful works: sophisticated, tightly contracted, imaginatively scored, and approachable without the slightest suggestion of pandering. No. 2 makes imaginative use of the celesta, while No. 3 introduces a discerning but colorful percussion contingent.

The performances here are exceptional. John Storgards and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra play with an attention to detail, precision of ensemble, and clarity of texture that can only be called perfect. Although the ensemble is small, the massed strings project a surprising richness in the slow music, and never sound tired or sloppy when called (as they often are) to generate propulsive accompaniments to the winds. Similarly, the percussion adds color and rhythmic snap but never dominates. Part of the success of the production stems from the crystal-clear engineering, whether in regular stereo or SACD playback. © 2012 Read complete review

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