Albums

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Duets - Released June 1, 2018 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Violin Concertos - Released March 9, 2018 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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 Grieg in the preceding generation, Borgström went to study in Leipzig as from 1887. 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. This conviction – or rather, his lack of interest in developing a national idiom – hampered his career in Norway. Grieg himself reportedly expressed bafflement at the phenomenon of a younger Norwegian composer, so obviously gifted and well trained as a musical craftsman – but with nothing specifically ‘Norwegian’ about his music. Borgström’s Violin Concerto was first performed at the 1914 Jubilee exhibition, a celebration of the centenary of the Norwegian constitution. A cultivation of national identity in the 1800s had developed into a near frenzy around the time the union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905. The cultural climate was thus very much in favour of presenting new Norwegian music, and the concerto was well received. It did not establish itself in the repertoire, however, receiving only a few performances in the following decades. The concerto is in the conventional three movements and, in keeping with its neutral title, does not have any explicit programme. Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto was composed a few decades later than Borgström’s Concerto. This work too is marked by the uneasy fit between its composer and his environment. The difficulties Shostakovich experienced at the time were quite literally a matter of life and death. The post-war years saw the official denouncement of music containing ‘formalistic distortions and anti-democratic trends alien to the Soviet people’, in the words of the infamous decree by Zhdanov from 1948. Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others – that is, almost every composer of any significance in the Soviet Union – were accused of negating the basic principles of classical music. Shostakovich’s reaction to the Zhdanov doctrine was to follow two paths simultaneously. In public, he wrote ‘light’ music and film scores, works that paid the bills and would cause no problems with the authorities. In private, he composed the music that he wanted to write, music that met his own high artistic and intellectual standards but would have no chance of being performed in public. The First Violin Concerto falls decisively into the second category. A champion of Norway’s rich musical tradition, Eldbjørg Hemsing has been performing on some of the world’s most prestigious stages since the age of 11, when she made her solo début with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Her star rose when she gave a globally televised performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo. A regular guest soloist with some of the world’s top ensembles, she is honoured to count the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony 8 Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra among her most active orchestral partners. © SM/Qobuz
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Duets - Released July 3, 2015 | BIS

Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Chamber Music - Released August 27, 2013 | BIS

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released June 25, 2013 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Concertos - Released June 5, 2012 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica - Exceptional sound
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Quintets - Released April 5, 2011 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Choc Classica de l'année
The immense popularity of his Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, both during his lifetime and into modern times, turned out to be almost something of a curse for composer Max Bruch. The violin concerto, his first foray into the concerto genre, was helped along by none other than Joseph Joachim. So widespread was the success of the concerto that Bruch found it difficult if not impossible to compose subsequent instrumental works that could stand against it. In the almost six decades between the completion of the violin concerto and Bruch's death, few works were even to come close. In addition to the concerto, this BIS album attempts to shed new light on some of his more neglected compositions, including the Op. 85 Romance in F major and the String Quintet in A minor, one of the composer's final works. Violinist Vadim Gluzman joins the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton for an exciting, dynamic performance of the concerto. Gluzman's playing is vibrant and energetic; his tone is both sumptuously warm and assertively powerful. Litton's orchestral leadership is equally enthralling. He does not simply race through the considerable orchestral tuttis, but adds shape, color, and interest throughout. Gluzman joins four other colleagues for a rare reading of the string quintet. Though written well into the 20th century, the quintet could just as well have been written in the mid-1800s; Bruch's commitment to Romantic ideals remained resolute right up to the end. The performance here is just as vivacious and edgy as the concerto, casting the little-heard work in its best possible light.
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Concertos - Released August 24, 2010 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released December 1, 1999 | BIS

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Violin Concertos - Released October 1, 2001 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet