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

Cover Borgström & Shostakovich: Violin Concertos

Album info



Label: BIS

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Concertos

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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  • Hjalmar Borgström (1864 - 1925): Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 25:
  • 1I. Allegro moderato15:55
  • 2II. Adagio08:42
  • 3III. Allegro con spirito11:16
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975): Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77:
  • 4I. Nocturne. Moderato12:07
  • 5II. Scherzo. Allegro06:37
  • 6III. Passacaglia. Andante - Cadenza13:37
  • 7IV. Burlesque. Allegro con brio - Presto04:58
  • Total Runtime01:13:12

Info for Borgström & Shostakovich: Violin Concertos

Eldbjørg Hemsing has been a household name in her native Norway since childhood and made her solo debut with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 11. During and after her studies in Vienna, she has absorbed repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Tan Dun, a composer she has collaborated with on several projects in both Europe and Asia.

The present disc marks Eldbjørg Hemsing’s first appearance on BIS, and is also her début CD. For the occasion she has chosen to highlight an all but forgotten work by a countryman, Hjalmar Borgström. Like Grieg in the preceding generation, and indeed like many Nordic composers in the late nineteenth century, Borgström went to Germany to study. However, in contrast to Grieg who returned from Germany firmly resolved to carve out an authentic, Norwegian idiom, Borgström came back a staunch proponent of new German symphonic music. His Violin Concerto in G major was first performed in 1914 as part of a celebration of the centenary of the Norwegian constitution, and the highly tuneful and expressive work was well received. It did not become established in the repertoire, however, and remained practically unknown for nearly a century.

It is combined here with a work that is rather more central to the violin repertoire, Dmitri Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto. This was composed at a difficult time for the composer, whose music was denounced as ‘formalistic’ and ‘anti-democratic’ in the infamous so-called Zhdanov decree of 1948. As a result of the post-Stalin thaw the work could finally be premièred in 1955, and with David Oistrakh as its advocate it became instantly successful. Eldbjørg Hemsing is supported in this and in Borgström’s concerto by the eminent Wiener Symphoniker conducted by Olari Elts.

"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.“ (Rheinische Post)

“… 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.​”​ (Klassiskmusik, Rating – 6/6 Stars)

Eldbjørg Hemsing, violin
Wiener Symphoniker
Olari Elts, conductor

Eldbjørg Hemsing
A champion of Norway’s rich musical tradition, Eldbjørg Hemsing has been a household name in her native country since childhood and made her solo debut with the Bergen Philharmonic at the age of 11. Studying with Boris Kuschnir in Vienna, she has since carefully positioned herself on both the national and international stage, fine-tuning her performance-style and absorbing repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Dvořák, Grieg to Tan Dun. Together with Tan Dun she has collaborated on numerous projects in both Europe and Asia and is currently working with the composer on a new work which she will premiere in September 2018.

In March 2018 Eldbjørg Hemsing releases her debut CD on the 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.”

Her debut album will be followed in the autumn of 2018 by a recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto and Suk’s Fantasy and Love Song with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and Alan Buribayev. She is also the primary focus in an upcoming documentary directed by David Donnelly, focusing on women in the arts. This new venture follows the award winning success of the 2010 NRK film in which Eldbjørg and her sister Ranghild explored the life of Norway’s legendary violinist, Ole Bull.

Upcoming engagements in the 2017 / 18 season include regular concerts at the Stormen Concert Hall in Bodø where Eldbjørg is the 2018 Artist in Residence and performances with, amongst others, the Oslo Philharmonic, MDR Radio Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, Baltic Sea Philharmonic, Arctic Philharmonic and the NWD Philharmonie. She also joins Julien Quentin for a recital tour in Spring 2018 and appears as a guest at Paavo Järvi’s Pärnu Festival in Estonia.

Eldbjørg Hemsing plays a 1754 G. B. Guadagnini violin on kind loan from the Dextra Musica Foundation. Her long-term artistic development is generously supported by the Göhde Foundation.

Booklet for Borgström & Shostakovich: Violin Concertos

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