Borgstrom & Shostakovich: Violin Concertos / Hemsing, Elts, Vienna Symphony

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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 absorbed repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Tan Dun, a composer she has collaborated with on several projects in both Europe and Asia. The present release marks Eldbjørg Hemsing’s first appearance on BIS, and is also her début album. For the occasion she has chosen to highlight an all but forgotten work by a countryman, Harald 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, receiving only a few performances in the following decades. 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.



She produces a tensile, vibrant tone from her Guadagnini instrument, ideally suited to big-hearted Romantic fare. The recorded sound that somewhat limits the kind of visceral orchestral attack needed in the Shostakovich bathes Borgstrøm’s ultra-conservative Scandi-Bruch in an appropriate glow. Her ardent advocacy of the work leaves a very positive impression of this lesser-known concerto.

– Gramophone

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BIS-2366

  • UPC: 7318599923666

  • Label: BIS

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich, Hjalmar Borgstrom

  • Conductor: Olari Elts

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Vienna Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Eldbjørg Hemsing


  1. Concerto for Violin in G Major, Op. 25

    Composer: Hjalmar Borgstrom

    Ensemble: Vienna Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Eldbjørg Hemsing (Violin)

    Conductor: Olari Elts

  2. Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, Op. 77

    Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

    Ensemble: Vienna Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Eldbjørg Hemsing (Violin)

    Conductor: Olari Elts