ORCHESTRAL MUSIC Danish Music Festival St John's, Smith Square, London

One thing can be fairly said about the Danes: when it comes to self-promotion, they have, on the whole, been abysmal. It's doubtful whether even Carl Nielsen would be as well known as he is in this country if it hadn't been for some energetic championship by the English composer Robert Simpson. Poul Ruders is doing quite well here, but he's a big exception.

There remains a host of Danish composers whose names are hardly ever spoken abroad (let alone pronounced correctly), including such magnificent individuals as Rued Langgaard, Vagn Holmboe and Per Norgard.

It was left to two young Englishmen, the composer Matthew Taylor and the conductor Tom Hammond, to organise the 1997 Danish Music Festival, though with support from Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and the Danish Music Information Centre (MIC). The six concerts were almost as striking for what they didn't include as for what they did. There were, for instance, no composers under the age of 40, and Ruders and Norgard were exhibited at their least challenging: Ruders by Breakdance for brass, and Norgard by Pastorale for strings, derived from his hit score for the film Babette's Feast.

Still, opportunities to enjoy live performances of Holmboe's music in London are rare enough to make what we heard especially valuable. In Tuesday's tribute to the composer, who died last September, aged 86, two Haydn symphonies framed the late Dane's tough, compelling Chamber Symphony No 1 - a fine example of how to make much out of little, thematically speaking - and Holmboe's last completed work, the Concerto for String Quartet and String Orchestra. Concertos that treat the string quartet as a solo instrument and pit it against the orchestra can be unwieldy affairs (for my taste, for example, the Martinu). Holmboe's solution was unique: the quartet emerges from, then blends with the orchestra - as though you are seeing now individual trees, now a wood. Conducting the City of London Sinfonia, Matthew Taylor made excellent sense of it all: both the active surface and the serene background.

A short Holmboe piece had its premiere in Saturday's concert, given by the Helios Sinfonia, ably conducted by Tom Hammond: Prelude to a Maple Tree (Holmboe devoted half his life to planting trees, and there's now a sizeable forest on the land he owned in Denmark). This was no Delius- like reverie, but a dynamic and colourful miniature, again very convincingly played. The glory of the evening, however, was the Norwegian violinist Marianne Thorsen's performance of Nielsen's Violin Concerto. Why isn't this joyous, abundantly tuneful work better known? Perhaps because Nielsen puts his roof-raising final climax at the end of the first movement rather than the finale. In purely commercial terms that might be a miscalculation - but what Nielsen-lover would have it otherwise? Thorsen has nothing of the Vanessa-Mae or of that other, Finnish soft-porn sensation, Linda Brava, about her - thank God. The excitement is in the playing itself, technically first-rate and full of love for this very lovable music. And if that isn't the kind of sentiment to set the record company men-in-suits groping for their pocket calculators, let's hope the signs are right, and their days are truly numbered.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine