March 9, 2018
BIS Records AB
Number of discs:
In March 2018 Eldbjørg Hemsing released her debut album as high-resolution (SA)CD on the acclaimed Swedish label BIS, featuring violin concertos by Hjalmar Borgström and Dmitri Shostakovich, recorded with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Olari Elts.
Introducing the album Eldbjørg wrote: ”A few years ago, I was introduced to the music of Hjalmar Borgström, a name I was not previously familiar with and I was surprised to learn that he had been famous as both a composer and critic in Norway at the beginning of the 20th century. Opening the score of his first violin concerto for the first time I was immediately intrigued. This concerto, written in 1914, is incredibly beautiful, full of Norwegian Nationalist sentiment so typical of its time but also worthy of international attention. It reminds me of where I come from – the rugged landscape of Valdres and Jotunheimen, where the surrounding mountains rise dramatically over the valleys – and the music makes me yearn for my roots. After Borgström’s death in 1925 the concerto was completely forgotten and so today I am on something of a mission to help do my part in bringing this composer’s music back to life.
In contrast to Borgström’s work, I grew up loving Shostakovich’s first violin concerto and was completely hooked on it from an early age. Studying the work with Professor Boris Kushnir, who himself was the student of the concerto’s dedicatee, David Oistrakh, has given me a privileged insight into the music and allowed me to learn something of the Russian spirit with both its unqiue melancholy and humour. The concerto is a massive, emotional masterpiece where there are no limits to how far you are stretched within yourself in expression, pain, sorrow and hope.“
“… the young and compellingly fresh articulating violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing has digged out the three-movement violin concerto of Borgström, recording the work with Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Olari Elts – not only as noble pioneering feat, but in violinistic and musically gorgeous manner.“ – 17 April 2018
Rating – 5/5 Stars | Magnificent: “For the concerto of Shostakovich which was dedicated to the marvelous David Oistrach, this violinist must expect comparisons – which she in fact all does not need to shun! Can one play this great violin concerto in such superb manner with 28 years of age? Eldbjørg Hemsing can!” – 12 April 2018
“Hemsing delivers a true top performance in both of these concertos. Enthusiasm, imagination, energy, finesse, sharpness, lyricism, brilliance: it is all there, with the highly engaged Estonian conductor Olari Elts who shows the Vienna Symphony, so to speak, all corners of the hall. Of course, Borgström’s Violin Concerto is the ‘ear-opener’ here, but I was also overwhelmed by the expressive dimensions of the interpretation in Shostakovich’s first violin concerto.“ – 19 March 2018
“The timbres are varied, full of warmth and brilliant registers, and how Hemsing deals with this centuries-old richness [of her G.B. Guadagnini from 1764] is masterful: attuned to the characteristics of the violin and alert in her response to them, subtle in sound and astute in accentuation. Every vibrato, every tempo is well thought out and Hemsing highlights the Shostakovich concerto both in its extended lamentation and grim ferocity, without ever overstating. The Borgström, on the other hand, she develops into a sparkling, self-assured, almost indomitable momentum. The result is a uniquely delicate musical balance between the two concertos, the axis between them is Hemsing’s unmistakable and consistent colour. This is vivacious and at the same time very mature.” – 15 March 2018
Holger Wemhoff, Klassik Radio | 8. März 2018: “…in the meanwhile she [Eldbjørg Hemsing] is regarded as one of the best and greatest young hopes, not only of her country Norway, but of the entire world. And that can especially be heard in her new, her debut CD.” – Holger Wemhoff | 12 March 2018: “One of the best violin recordings of the past years.”
“…a brilliantly successful debut… whether it is the elegiac Nocturne, the virtuoso tricky Scherzo, the breathtaking solo cadenza in the 3rd movement, or the Burlesque which is tumbling between exuberant euphoria and treipdation, Hemsing in each case gives the adequate note. A joint triumph of Shostakovich’ genuine creativiness and the verve of the young artist who translates this music-historical monument into moving sounds.“ – 6 March 2018
“The wonderful Violin Concerto in G major op. 14 from 1914 is a real hit, and you can be thankful to the Swedish label BIS for letting the work now appear at its best. The solo part is played by the fabulous young Norwegian Eldbjørg Hemsing: she impresses with a brilliant technique, her tone is bright and soft – and the grandeur of a free violinist soul is enthroned above everything. The 27-year-old artist, of whom there is still a great deal to hear, brings the work, which one can hear wonderfully carefree, so to speak, back into the repertoire. The Wiener Symphoniker, under the direction of Olari Elts, assists masterfully. This SACD is rounded off by a no less impressive performance of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor by Dmitri Shostakovich, which captures the edges and abysses of the music.“ – 5 March 2018
“…with her supreme violinistic ease, sprightly personality and wonderfully clear and pure lyrical tone (2nd movement), the violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing transforms this repertoire rarity [Borgström violin concerto] into a worthwhile rediscovery or new discovery. Hemsing’s mastery of the entire Shostakovich spectrum, from gloomy bitterness to grotesquely-virtuosic agility, is then demonstrated in her collaboration with the highly committed Wiener Symphoniker.“ – 3 March 2018
…jointly with Wiener Symphoniker and Olari Elts, Hemsing presents an interpretation which is convincing, rich of colors and personal. With consistently brilliant sound and flexible expression, Eldbjørg Hemsing makes this album absolutely worth listening to.” – 20 February 2018
Rating – 6/6 Stars: “… a fabulous discovery … [Hemsing] offers a star performance, technically steady as a mountain goat, bold and assertive where required and sweetly filled like spun sugar in the slow movement … this recording is strongly recommended.”- 14 February 2018