Introduction to music
Christian Holmqvist is a musical pluralist who choose his tools in consideration of what he wants to express in the work at hand. His music combines a romantic feeling with classical structures, neoclassical pulsation and a neoromantic, sometimes also impressionistic harmony. One may find 12-tone rows, clusters, complex narrative structures and other elements borrowed from the modern tradition. Recurring features are a juxtaposition of melodic lyricism and dramatic outbursts.
For Holmqvist, important composers are Haydn, Beethoven, Mahler, Debussy, Scriabin, Berg, Shostakovich, Schnittke, Einar Englund, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Anders Eliasson. In some works may be heard clear influences of popular music, such as jazz.
LISTEN to some of Holmqvist's works
DIvertimento for symphonic wind band. Performed by Akateeminen puhallinorkesteri & Kalervo Kulmala. Recording of the first performance in Seinäjoki in 1999.
På nattgammal is (On Brittle Ice), the first song from the song cycle Fem dikter av Jarl Hemmer (Five Poems of Jarl Hemmer), performed by Marika Kivinen & Patrik Komorowski. Studio recording from 2017.
NEWS IN BRIEF...
Holmqvist is working on a vocal cycle for mezzo soprano and ensemble to poems by Maritza Núñez.
During 2020 an e-book (in Finnish) about the composer Einar Englund (1916-1999), written by Holmqvist, will be published by Fennica-Gehrman. Details to be announced.
Updated 3/ 2020
Of Holmqvist's orchestral works the early Divertimento for symphonic wind band has been a favorite with the listeners. This is certainly due to the coloristic orchestration and the amusing parodies of the military band music style. Other well received orchestral works are for example Purgatory Triptych, ”a musical journey from despair to hope”, which was awarded the main prize in the Kuopio Composition Contest in 1999, and the short and entertaining Petite suite baroque for strings.
Holmqvist’s both solo concertos - one for French Horn, one for Saxophone - are characterized by a romantic, melodious expression which received a positive reaction from the audiences in the first performances.
Of the composer's chamber music may be mentioned the first string quartet which in 2002 was awarded with the first prize in the Kuopio Composition Contest’s category for a new chamber music work. The sanguine and energetic third quartet was first performed in Helsinki in 2011, and was acknowledged as one of Holmqvist’s best works.
Of other chamber works may be mentioned two virtuoso works for saxophone and piano: Pezzo Concertante and Götterdämmerung (A Tribute to Rammstein). Zugzwang, a duo piece for accordion and guitar, has received great acclaim for its musical humor.
Holmqvist has also written solo piano music: two sparkling sonatinas, some miniatures and the suite Transparent Things.
Vocal music occupies an important position in Holmqvist’s oeuvre. This is perhaps not surprising for a composer whose music often includes ”tunes” or, simply, melodically shaped themes and motives.
The vocal works display the broadness of the composer's musical palette. For example, the rich expressionism of the Edith Södergran- and the Rainer Maria Rilke-settings is rather different from the warmth of the Jarl Hemmer-settings. In the settings of Christina Rossetti's poems for children the music is appropriately naive and simple.
For choir Holmqvist has mostly written short, lyrical pieces. Of these, especially Nocturne is much admired by both singers and listeners.