Monday, 9 March 2015

Other choral works

Even leaving aside Liber Canticorum, Holmboe wrote a large number of works for choir, not just in Danish but in a wide variety of languages. A sizable proportion of the works for unaccompanied choir have been recorded.

Larger Holmboe collections

The Sokkelund Sangkor, conducted by Morten Schuldt-Jensen, have recorded an all-Holmboe disc of Works for A Capella Choir (Da Capo DCCD 9204).  As well as two works from Liber Canticorum (discussed in this entry) the other works included are:
  • Songs 2 to 5 (not in order) from the five Lagerkvist Songs, op.34 (M.144)
  • Sange mod Vårdybet (Songs Towards the Deep of Spring), op.85 (M.223)
  • Cantata Profana "Frise" (Frieze), op.103b (M.248)
  • A Lyke-Wake Dirge, op.110a (M.259)
  • The Wee Wee Man, op.110b (M.260)
  • Two Sarvig Psalms, op.154 (M.315)

This the only recording of several of the Lagerkvist Songs, most of Cantata Profana (which is a vocal transcription of Chamber Symphony No.3) and the Two Sarvig Psalms, and probably the most widely available collection of Holmboe's choral works. There is no single complete recording of the Lagerkvist Songs, in large part because no.1 is for male choir and the remaining songs (as recorded here) are for mixed choir. The booklet of the disc has English translations of the works not already in English, but does not have the original texts.

The other all-Holmboe disc available is by the Sct. Peders (Saint Peter's) Concert Choir, conducted by Karsten Blond. Their Works for Choir (Paula CD 113) does not appear to be available for download or streaming, but it is still possible to find the disc. It also includes two works from Liber Canticorum, and the rest of the program is as follows:
  • Hevjið í homrum (Raise in the Passes), op.81 (M.214)
  • A Lyke-Wake Dirge, op.110a (M.259)
  • The Wee Wee Man, op.110b (M.260)
  • Simeons lovsång (Simeon's prayer/song of praise), M.199
  • Glemselshejren (The Heron of Oblivion), M.217
  • Hyld (Elder Tree), M.263
  • Hvad bøgetræet sang (What the Beech Tree Sang), M.xHv
  • Ólavur Riddararós

I have been unable to definitively align this last work with anything in the standard Holmboe catalogue. The disc indicates it is Holmboe's arrangement of a Faroese folksong, which may mean it is what the catalogue calls Sigmundskvæðið (Sigmund's Ballad), M.ySi. Alternatively, it may be an uncatalogued work. This is the only recording of the song-cycle Hevjið í homrum and Simeons lovsång, and probably the most readily available version of a few others. The disc does not have any of the sung texts, only brief descriptions.

Another important collection, although not entirely of Holmboe, is by a male choir called Vox Aros conducted by Uffe Most. Their disc Great Danes (Contemporary Music for Male Chorus) is self-released via, and while it appears that the main way to obtain it on CD is from the choir's own website (from which the excellent booklet can also be viewed), it is widely available for download and streaming.  The Holmboe works included are:
  • Song No.1 "Hemlängtan" (Homesickness) from the five Lagerkvist Songs, op.34 (M.144)
  • Inuit Songs (Set 1), op.69 (M.190) (with tympani accompaniment)
  • Two songs, M.122 (Ved en strandbred (On a Beach) and Jylland (Jutland))
  • Ikke forlig (No Compromise), M.158
  • Glemselshejren (The Heron of Oblivion), M.217

This is the only recording of the Two songs and Ikke forlig, and again this is also probably the most readily available version of some other pieces.

Other recordings - opp. 36, 77, 138 (unique releases, generally available)

The only recording of Solhymne (Hymn to the Sun), op.77 (M.208) is relatively easy to find as it is on the Da Capo label. The performance by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Søren Kinch Hansen, is available on Hymn to the Sun - Works for a capella choir (Da Capo 8.226051).

Song at Sunset, op.138b (M.296), to words by Walt Whitman, has been recorded once. It is performed by the Camerata Chamber Choir conducted by Michael Bojesen on Americana (Danica DCD 8154). Other composers are Grainger, Britten, Barber and Nørholm. The disc is not widely available but it does seem a few copies can be found with major stores such as Amazon, Arkivmusic and Barnes & Noble.

There are two recordings of Jeg ved en urt så dejlig og bold (I know a plant/herb so lovely and fine), op.36 (M.142), both fairly readily available.  One is by Coro Misto, conducted by Søren Birch on Lokkende toner - Enchanting Music (Danacord DACOCD 546). This also includes Speravi in Domino, op.61d from Liber Canticorum.

The other recording is by the Goteborgs Radio Choir, conducted by Knut Olof Strandberg, and is part of a 5-CD collection called Swedish Tongues: An Anthology of Choirs (1900-1950) (Caprice CAP 2163). This is available for download (the complete collection runs to over 150 tracks).

Other recordings - opp.98 (unique, not generally available) and 103

There appears to be only one complete (and hard-to-find) recording of the Three Jæger Songs, op.98 (M.232). It is performed by the Jysk Akademisk Kor (JAK, Jutland Academic Choir), conducted by Søren Birch, on Spejlinger – nyere dansk kormusik (Reflections - contemporary Danish choral music) (Point PCD 5127). Two works from Liber Canticorum are also included.

The first song, "Være-Digtet" (Being-poem), along with one movement of Cantana profana, is performed by Odense Universitets Lillekor (Odense University Chamber Choir), conducted by Carstern Mollerup, on Oh Danmark (Electra EL 0110-1 (LP) and EL 0110-2 (CD). This appears to be available from Naxos Direct in Scandinavian countries but otherwise has limited availability.

The third song, "Tidligt Forår" (Early Spring) is apparently performed by Vox Danica conducted by Ebbe Munk on 24 sange i den danske sommer/ Songs of the Danish Summer (Danica DCD 8155), but is listed as "Kom Sol".


Other recordings including the Border Ballads op.110

The two unaccompanied Border Ballads of op.110 are amongst the most frequently recorded of Holmboe's works, possibly because the texts are in English. In Rapaport's catalogue they are listed separately as A Lyke-Wake Dirge, op.110a and The Wee Wee Man, op.110b, but the majority of recordings include both. The following performances are in addition to the ones by Sokkelund Sangkor and Sct. Peders Concert Choir mentioned above.

The performance by the Johannes Ungdomskör (Johannes Youth Choir), conducted by Anders Eby, was made available on an LP called Nordiskt - Young Scandinavian Choir Music (Proprius PROP 9986). The recording is now available on at least one download service, Classics Online.

The Copenhagen University Choir Lille MUKO, conducted by Jesper Grove Jørgensen, recorded the ballads in 1999 for a disc called Music To Hear - Danish Choral Music From The 20th Century (Point PCD 5148).

The Carmina Chamber Choir (Kammerkoret Carmina), conducted by Peter Hanke, included the ballads on a disc of Contemporary Danish Choral Music released around 1992 (Danica DCD 8151).

Tritonus (Tritone), conducted by John Høybye, recorded both the ballads and the 5th song of Sange mod Vårdybet "Høbjærgning ved havet" (Haymaking by the sea). The LP containing these is called Dansk kormusik i 70erne (Danish choral music in the 70s) (Wilhelm Hansen LPWH-3016).

The Sankt Annæ Gymnasiekor (Saint Anna's Gymnasium Choir), directed by Ebbe Munk, included both ballads on an LP called Ballader og folkeviser (Ballads and folksongs) (Danica DLP 8083) for which I've found only one small image.

A Lyke-Wake Dirge appears alone on Ny Musik I Suså – Contemporary music from the Suså festival (Classico CLASSCD 230). The performance is by the Carmina Chamber Choir. This collection is widely available for download.

The Wee Wee Man appears alone on a 1992 disc called Lyse Nætter (Bright Nights) performed by the Jysk Akademisk Ungdomskor (Jutland Academic Youth Choir) conducted by Uffe Most (OTR CD 1010). I haven't been able to find a cover image for this disc.

Other recordings - opp.85, 119

The Koncertforeningens Kor (Concert Association Choir) conducted by Steen Lindholm performed two choral works for an LP in the Dansk Musik Antologi series (EMI DMA 076) released in 1986. They are Sange mod Vårdybet (Songs Towards the Deep of Spring), op.85 (M.223) and Lykken / Eydna (Good Fortune), op.119 (M.272), which has two titles because it exists in both Danish and Faroese versions (the Danish version being used here). The coupling is String Quartet No.1.

This is the only complete version of Eydna / Lykken. The second song, "Krabbaskelin" (The Crab Shell in its Faroese form) is the only one to be more widely available, performed by the Tórshavnar Kamarkór (Torshavn Chamber Choir) conducted by Ólavur Jøkladal on Várlongsil (Tutl FKT 11) which can be downloaded from sources like iTunes and Amazon.

There is a different, 1997 recording of Sange mod Vårdybet also by the Koncertforeningens Kor and Steen Lindholm, where the choir's name is rendered in English as "Copenhagen Concert Choir" (or "Concert Society" in some sources). This collection also includes Benedic Domino, anima mea op.59a from Liber Canticorum and works from other composers (Classico CLASSCD 289).

The fifth song of op.85, "Høbjærgning ved havet" (Haymaking by the sea) has been recorded on its own several times. The recording by Tritonus is mentioned above as it is coupled with the Border Ballads. I've only found limited information about two other performances. The Young Men's Christian Association Singers (KFUMs sangere) conducted by Jørgen Borg perform the song on a disc released around 1974/5 (Etagram EGS 11).  The Odense Motetkor (Odense Motet Choir), conducted by Ole Most, also perform the song on what may have been a self-released LP (OM 508284).

Other recordings - opp.34, 69

There are additional performances of two of the Lagerkvist Songs, op.34 (M.144). No.1, "Hemlängtan" (Homesickness), is performed by the Studentersangforeningen (Student Choral Union) or just Studentersangerne (Student Singers) conducted by Eifred Eckart-Hansen on I New York (Fona TF 119). Yes, recorded live in New York in 1967.

"Hemlängtan" is also performed by Orphei Drängar (Men of Orpheus) and Eric Ericson on an LP simply called Orphei Drängar och Eric Ericson (RCA Victor YSVL1-559).

Another performance by Norwegian quartet Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) appears on Voices (Aurora ARCD 1914 and also Quattro Records QCD 9302).

Song No.3, "Vem är du?" (Who are you?), has been recorded on its own twice. The Luleå Chamber Choir, conducted by Einar Isacson, include it on the LP Rondo Laponico – Contemporary Scandinavian Choir Music (Proprius PROP 7797). This is now available on Classics Online.

There is reportedly another performance by the Nordjysk Motetkor (North Jutland Motet Choir) conducted by Mad Sand on LP (Nordjysk Motetkor 66.24053-01), but I have been unable to find information on this - it appears to have been self-released and hence of limited availability even at the time.

The Studentersangforeningen (Student Choral Union) conducted by Tamás Vetö perform the Inuit Songs (Inuit-Sange) (Set 1), op.69 (M.190) on Danske Korværker (Danish Choral Works) (Fona TF 131). I haven't found an image of the cover.

Other recordings - works without opus number

The Valen Soloist Ensemble (Valens Solistensemble) perform Hvad bøgetræet sang (What the Beech Tree Sang), M.xHv on Fra Fader Bach til Fader Jacob (From Father Bach to Father John) (Bergen Digital BDCD 7014). Availability appears limited.

It is also performed by Det Danske Drengekor (The Danish Boys' Choir), conducted by Steffen Schimmel, on Fyrtøjet : Danske sange (Tinderbox: Danish Songs) (Danica DLP 8044).

The arrangement of Sigmundskvæðið (Sigmund's Ballad), M.ySi is performed by Havnarkórið (Tórshavn Choir), conducted by Ólavur Hátún on an apparently self-released LP called Kór Og Kvæði (HK 0975).

Hyld (Elder Tree), M.263 was apparently recorded by the Hasle Skole Kor (School Choir) conducted by Christian Madsen, but on a self-released LP (HSK 001) meaning it would be very difficult to find.

Finally, two of Holmboe's songs not otherwise recorded were performed by the Rørkjær-Koret in Esbjerg, conducted by Axil Eskildsen on a self-released LP called Nu er dagen fuld af sang (Now is the day full of song) (RKE 16). The songs are "Stjerneskud" (Shooting Star), No.2 of 3 Songs to texts of Louis Levy, M.202, and "Noget om at blive trådt på" (Something About Being Stepped On), No.2 of 5 Børnesange (Children's Songs), M.211.

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