The music for this year’s All Saints’ Day concert by Mogens Dahl Chamber Choir consists solely of works by Vagn Holmboe.
In Denmark, he is regarded as the most significant symphonist after Carl Nielsen, but his choral production is also extensive and considerable. At this concert, you can hear a handful of works from the composer’s later years.
The main work of the concert is a rarely heard composition for choir with two soloists and instrumentalists. The text is by the early romantic-mystical poet Novalis from an unfinished novel, where reality dissolves into longing and the premonitory.
“A lyke-wake dirge” is based on a song that could be sung during a wake for the dying, and is therefore particularly appropriate for All Saints’ Day, as this holiday in Denmark is mostly about remembering those who have died during the year.
Choral works titled “Liber Canticorum” (“Book of Songs”) appear regularly in Holmboe’s production over a period of more than 30 years. “Beatus vir” means “Blessed is the…” and is used in the Catholic Church in connection with the evening prayer (vespers) at sunset. Sunset is also found in the ancient Egyptian “Hymn to the Sun”, which describes the sun’s course from sunrise to sunset until the new rise – and of course in “Song of Sunset” with text by Walt Whitman.