DEBUT CD REVIEW IN HIGHRESAUDIO

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

“…deeply engaged interpretation. Eldbjørg Hemsing […] playing in the top spot of current recordings.”

HighResAudio | April 2018

It takes some courage of the label and the soloist not to release as debut CD and download one of the war horses of violin literature, but a concert of an almost forgotten composer of the expiring romantic period next to the rather bulky first violin concerto by Dimitri Shostakovich. However, this debut fits in with the vita of the Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, who was on the concert stage for the first time at the age of eleven, and who at just 28 years of age today has already made a name for herself on the scene of contemporary music. For example, in the autumn of this year, the world premiere of a violin concerto by composer Tan Duns is on her program, with whom she has been artistically associated for some time. The Estonian conductor of this album, Olari Elts also is a specialist in contemporary music. The conductor, trained under Jorma Panula, was chief conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2001 to 2006 and since then has conducted numerous orchestras and has been directing the NYYD Ensemble, founded by him in 1993, dedicated to the performance of contemporary music.

But back to the current album with its two violin concertos. Almost completely forgotten is Hjalmar Borgström, who is represented with his violin concerto in G major, op. 25, in addition to the first Shostakovich violin concerto on the album. The Norwegian is tragically not forgotten because of the quality of his compositions, but because he did not compose a specifically characteristic music based on the folklore of his homeland, like his compatriot Edvard Grieg, who was also educated in Germany. Instead, he composed a music committed to the late romantic German composing style far from the Scandinavian idiom. That was said to be extremely bad in Norway, which at that time was strongly nationalistic, and therefore he was not successful there. In Germany, on the other hand, French composers were in demand, which is why Borgström, with his German idiom, sitting in the truest sense of the word between two chairs, was not particularly in demand here either. His Violin Concerto in G major, op. 25 No. 1,completed in 1914, has found as such no place in the repertoire despite a successful premiere. The deeply engaged interpretation by Eldbjørg Hemsing as late salvation of the violin concerto of the Norwegian, which with its expressive style, melodious themes and unusual harmonies is telling of a remarkable independence of the Norwegian composer, stands for the fact that it did not deserve this fate, but deserves its place in today’s concert life. That is what the Vienna Symphony Orchestra also stands for, which is here under Olari Elts at its best.

The first violin concerto by Dimitri Shostakovich, dedicated to David Oistrakh and premiered by him in 1954, has, from the outset, enjoyed great international interest thanks to David Oistrakh’s work, despite it has long been regarded and is regarded up to this day as rather bulky. Nowadays it belongs almost to the standard repertoire of talented young violinists. The growing number of recordings announces this situation. Eldbjørg Hemsing therefore does compete with considerable competition here, not only making a considerable impact, but playing in the top spot of current recordings that, despite all the superior recording technique, however do not match the stature of the analogue mono recording on the occasion of the premiere which is shaped by the great David Oistrakh.

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