The works of Hjalmar Borgstrøm is going through somewhat of a renessainse, and is about to be re-discovered. Violinist Jonas Båtstrand has already recorded his magnificent violin concerto to the enjoyment of the critics, and now the complete chamber music for violin and piano is ready.
Romantic violin music from Norway
Borgstrøms Violin Sonata in G major, op.19 premiered in Christiania on 28 November 1906, with the violinist Gustav Lange and Amalie Borgstrøm at the piano. Romanse in E major, op.12, was published by Kistner in Leipzig in 1900, both in an edition for orchestra and one for piano. This Romance is dedicated to the Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe, but whether or not he performed it, is uncertain. The three remaining violin pieces, Serenade, Elegie and Berceuse, are preserved in manuscript in the National Library in Oslo. It has not been possible to discover when they were written, but much points to it being during Borgstrøm’s German years.
Predominant in Norwegian musical life
Hjalmar Borgstrøm showed a talent for music early in his childhood, and all his life he has been closely bound up with words and literary text. It was therefore natural that it was a rather conservative cantata he had in his case when he came back to Norway after years of study at the music conservatory in Leipzig 1887-89. The works had a rather mixed reception in his home city and Borgstrøm, perhaps a little disappointed, went back to Germany where he lived until 1903. When he had again established himself in Christiania, his latest work Hamlet was the first he shared with the public, and they were in raptures. Borgstrøm definitely became a predominant figure in Norwegian musical life, both through his large-scale works and the authoritative literary and critical work he carried on in the daily press for almost 20 years.
Båtstrand and Kjekshus
Jonas Båtstrands first encounter with Borgstrøm’s music came through a recommendation from the conductor Terje Boye Hansen. He began the slow and laborious process of examining the less obvious music of the violin concerto and became so fascinated that he began to work carefully trough the violin sonata, together with the pianist Helge Kjekshus. Borgstrøm’s ingenuity and personal means of expression surprised, and it is possible to discern his influences from Wagner and R. Strauss. The sonata is very well constructed and one sees Borgstrøm’s passion for the late romantic tone poem. The contemporary counterpoint is present in the small violin pieces, but Borgstrøm gives way to a more winning and charming atmosphere. This is the intimate music for the home, not the high-flying ideas that demand large rooms and vaulted ceilings.