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Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, November 2009

It’s sobering to think that more than half of the duration of this disc is taken up with works from the late 1920s into the 1930s. This is early for Holmboe. Otherwise we have two works from the 1990s and one from 1965. Holmboe was himself a violinist and this music shows him revelling in the display aspects of the instrument.

In the Second Sonata one can sense the Balkans and Transylvania marinade associated with his folk song collecting activities. The music is in constant motion in the outer movements—vehement with Bartokian rhythms yet softened by Kenge material. The central movement bespeaks the solo sonatas and partitas of Bach. That mid-European folk voice is more prominent in the whirl and crunch of the three movements of the First Sonata. The four movement Third Sonata is a degree tougher and makes free with some plangent dissonance and angularity in the outer movements. Bartokian vituperation is there again in the streghe flight of the second movement. A centre of stillness and consolation is to be found in the Adagio.

The winding Parlando of the Reminiscences and the little Molto allegro scherzando each for solo violin seem again to reach across the years to the Balkans of his green years. Johannes Søe Hansen welcomes back Christina Bjørkøe’s piano for the musing, suppressed vitality and then ‘Friss’ of the Bagatelle No. 1 as well as the more rhetorical and very late (1993) Haiduc. It’s a florid piece.

This disc present a perhaps little considered face of this Danish composer. It’s good to have this presented so compactly and with such accomplishment both technically and through sensitive advocacy.

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