Saturday, 7 March 2015

Chamber music, part 2 (music including winds or brass)

Holmboe's chamber music includes a wide variety of instrument combinations. This has perhaps made recording his work more difficult, as any given combination of a few instruments can probably only play a few of the wide variety of works.

This entry deals with chamber music including wind or brass instruments (but not works solely for brass, which will be dealt with separately). The music for strings, or strings and piano, is dealt with in this entry and the large series of string quartets has its own entry here.

The works

Because of the mix-and-match nature of Holmboe's instrument combinations, it is difficult to neatly set out which discs contain which works. Here is a complete list of the works dealt with in this entry, from the largest ensemble to the smallest. For ease of reference I've also noted how many different recordings of each work are known to exist:

  • Sextet, op.114 (M.267) for flute, clarinet, bassoon, violin, viola and cello (3 recordings)

  • Notturno, op.19 (M.118) for wind quintet (5 recordings)
  • Aspekter (Aspects), op.72 (M.193) also for wind quintet (1 recording)
  • Musik til Morten (Music for Morten), op.104 (M.249) for oboe and string quartet (1 recording)

  • Serenade, op.18 (M.116) for flute, violin, cello and piano (1 recording)
  • Primavera (Spring), op.55 (M.174) also for flute, violin, cello and piano (2 recordings)
  • Quartetto Medico, op.70 (M.191) for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano (3 recordings)
  • Quartetto, op.90 (M.229) for flute, violin, viola and cello (2 recordings)

  • Music with Horn, op.148 (M.308) for violin, french horn and piano (1 recording)
  • Eco, op.186 (M.353) for clarinet, cello and piano (1 recording)

  • Sonatina Cappriciosa, op.27b (M.135) for flute and piano (1 recording)
  • Oboe Sonatina (revised version), op.93b (M.349) (1 recording)
  • Trombone Sonata, op.172a (M.333) (1 recording) (Now known to be three)

  • Sonata for solo flute, op.71 (M.192) (3 recordings)


All-Holmboe programs

Ensemble Midtvest have released two discs of Holmboe's chamber music which are widely available. Chamber Music (I) (Da Capo 8.226073) includes the op.90 Quartetto, Primavera and the Sonata for solo flute. It also includes the only recordings of Ballata and Gioco, referred to in this entry.

Chamber Music (II) (Da Capo 8.226074) includes the Sextet, Aspects, Quartetto Medico and Eco. This is the only recording of both Aspects and Eco. The disc also includes a performance of the Sonata for solo cello.

The disc Holmboe på Holmen (Classico CLASSCD 679) includes the Notturno for wind quintet and the Quartetto Medico. The disc also includes several of Holmboe's works for brass, and is very frequently listed as being performed by the Royal Danish Brass. A more accurate credit would be the Royal Danish Winds and Brass. The disc is also included in a 10-disc box set called Spirales: Snapshots Of Contemporary Classical Music (Classico/Membran 233317).

The flautist Claus Ettrup Larsen  is the featured artist on a disc called Chamber Works for Flute (Rondo Grammofon RCD 8362). The works included are the Sextet, the op.90 Quartetto, the Sonatina Capricciosa (the only recording of that work) and the Sonata for solo flute. It appears this is only available on CD, as I have not found any evidence of it on download or streaming services.


The Sonata for solo flute, performed by András Adorján, also appears coupled with the piano work Suono da bardo, op.49 (M.166) on LP (Fona TF 123)

The only recordings of both Music with Horn and the Trombone Sonata** can be found on the second volume of the Preludes for Sinfonietta (Da Capo 8.224124), otherwise discussed here.

The Trombone Sonata op.172a is actually the same music as the prelude To a Living Stone op.172c found on the first volume of the set, although in a significantly different arrangement.

(November 2016 edit: there are at least two more recordings of the Trombone Sonata)


Other recordings of the Notturno, op.19

The Notturno for wind quintet is one of the more frequently recorded of Holmboe's works. Aside from its inclusion on the Holmboe på Holmen disc above, there are at least four other recordings.

The Gothenburg Wind Quintet performance is on a disc with several other wind quintets and Poulenc's Sextet (BIS CD 24 and LP 24). The collection, released around 1994, is sometimes known as Wind Quintet and Piano, Volume 2.

Around the same vintage is a performance by the Scandinavian Wind Quintet, included on a disc of Danish quintets (Da Capo 8.224001).

There are also two older performances. The Danish Wind Quintet (Danske Blæserkvintet) recording appears on Dansk Kammermusik 5 (Philips 6578 005). This image of the cover from an eBay auction is the only one I have found so far (click to enlarge).

The very first release of the Notturno, though, was a performance by the "Wind Quintet of 1932" (Blæserkvintetten af 1932). Their recording, made in 1947, was released on two 78rpm discs (HMV DA 5258-59).

Other recordings

The only recording of the Oboe Sonatina is relatively accessible, as it's included in a selection of Danish oboe and piano music performed by Max Artved and Per Salo (Da Capo 8.224043).

Another recording of the Sextet was made by members of the Randers Chamber Orchestra (Randers Kammerorkester) and included on a disc of Danish Chamber Music (Concertante COCD 003) with works by Nielsen, Hartmann and Frandsen. It is mentioned on the orchestra's website, but it's not clear whether it is available from them or how else it might be obtained.

There is only one recording of Musik til Morten, and it appears to only be available on vinyl. The performance in 1973 by Mogens Steen Andreassen and the Copenhagen String Quartet was included on Dansk Kammermusik 6 (Philips 6578 006) together with Gade's sextet for strings.

There is also only one recording of the Serenade, op.18.  It was made in 1950 by the Danish Quartet and released on a 78rpm disc (HMV DB 5297). Thanks to a collector, it can be downloaded from his blog and it is also available to listen to on Youtube:

In addition to the Ensemble Midtvest recording of Primavera, there is a much earlier recording featuring Niels Viggo Bentzon on piano and coupled with Bentzon's own Mosaique Musicale (Triola TDLP 207).

An LP version of the Quartetto Medico was apparently coupled with a range of other pieces for woodwind and piano by Gade, Nielsen, Kuhlau and Høffding (Fona TF 118). I haven't found an image of the cover of this recording and, like all the other Fona LPs, it seems not to be available in any other format.

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