play pause skip-back skip-forward playing search check close plus caret-down caret-left caret-right caret-up chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up filter menu more-horizontal more-vertical share select star star-block volume-block volume-mute-block volume-mute volume lock settings recording composition repeat-all repeat-one devices laptop speaker

Borgström & Shostakovich: Violin Concertos - Eldbjørg Hemsing, Olari Elts, Wiener Symphoniker

For her debut album, the brilliant young Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing pairs Shostakovich's First Concerto with a rarely-heard violin concerto by her countryman Hjalmar Borgström (1864–1925), first heard in 1914. "Opening the dusty score … I was immediately intrigued," says Hemsing, describing the work as "incredibly beautiful, full of the Norwegian nationalist sentiment so typical of its time but also worthy of international attention." Read more…

The almost complete disappearance of Hjalmar Borgström's music from the repertoire is fully explainable by reasons not related to the quality of the music, but rather concerning a mismatch between the composer and the dominating trends in Norwegian music. Like Edvard Grieg in the preceding generation, and indeed like almost every serious-minded Scandinavian composer in the late nineteenth century, Borgström went to Leipzig to study at the famous conservatory in 1887, after lessons with Halvorsen in Kristiania (Oslo), the town of his birth. Also like Grieg, Borgström was not impressed by the teaching at the conservatory itself, though revelling in the rich musical culture.

However, in contrast to Grieg who returned from Germany firmly resolved to carve out an authentic, Norwegian idiom, Borgström remained in Germany for a long time, immersing himself in the aesthetics of contemporary music there. When he returned to Norway for good in 1903, he was a staunch proponent of new German symphonic music – a firm believer in the power of programme music to express the deepest universal truths of human existence.

Although we are not provided with any direct "explanations", the Violin Concerto is brimming with expressive content, starting with the unusual, soft, almost melodic writing for the timpani at the very start of the first movement that is repeated as a kind of framing device for the exposition, and again to round off the movement. The first entry of the soloist tentatively – if briefly – suggests unusual harmonic areas. The prevailing mood of the first movement, and indeed of the whole work, is one of rhapsodic lyricism, where the flow of musical invention is happily uninterrupted by overt signposts of conventional form. The slow movement starts with an arresting, chorale-like passage, brought back as a sort of refrain at intervals. Another inventive and original touch is the very end of the work, where the solo violin suddenly provides the briefest of poetic send-offs as the preceding lively music is reduced to mere rustles in the orchestra. The effect of this quiet, unexpected coda to a conventionally vivacious concerto finale is both elegant and poetic.

From the booklet note by Tomas Block

We use cookies and similar technologies to recognise your repeat visits, enable product functionality, and improve our marketing. By using this site, you're agreeing to our use of cookies as described in our Privacy Policy. You can change your preferences at any time.