Of all the different arts, music is the one most closely associated with the concepts of time and duration – concepts which every composer must consider carefully. The great Danish symphonist Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) certainly did so, and in his explanation of the title of the present work touched upon a central point: ‘Kairos means time in a psychological sense; that is, that passing of time which we experience – as opposed to kronos, which signifies time that can be divided into seconds and minutes’. The duration of a performance, or a specific passage, is easily measured, but how the passing of time is perceived by the listener is a different matter, and it is this qualitative difference that Holmboe wished to explore. The work is unusual, not to say unique, in that it in fact consists of four individual works. The four Sinfonias for string orchestra may be performed separately but can also be combined into a single work, in which the four movements of Sinfonia IV are used to frame and separate the first three, single-movement sinfonias. (The present disc also includes the four movements of Sinfonia No. 4 in sequence – after the complete Kairos – and thus offers the possibility of hearing the works independently as well as combined.) Holmboe’s symphonies are generally agreed to form an important chapter in 20th-century music, something that Owain Arwel Hughes has contributed to through his acclaimed cycle on BIS, recorded with the Danish Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. The present works for string orchestra he has chosen to record with Camerata Wales, the chamber orchestra that he himself founded in 2005. The team has previously released a disc of British favourites for chamber orchestra to great acclaim, for instance in BBC Music Magazine, whose reviewer praised ‘the high quality of the playing’ and described the performances as ‘warm, subtly nuanced’, ‘lively, characterful’ and ‘highly engaging’.
Extra material for download