Fanfare Magazine,(US) - Stunning performances and crystal clear recorded sound are all a composer could want.
BORUP-JØRGENSEN Solo. Music for Percussion + Viola1. La Primavera2. Periphrasis3. Winter Music4 Gert Mortensen (perc); 1Tim Frederiksen (va); Percurama Percussion Ens; 2Duo Crossfire; 3Michala Petri (recorder); 4Danish National S O Brass Quintet OUR RECORDINGS 6.220608 (72:44)
It is difficult to imagine that a disc devoted solely to percussion music would contain the variety of colors, textures and moods that is heard here. Axel Borup-Jørgensen is a Danish composer (1924-2012) who had a remarkable ear for color, and who knew how to maintain a hold on a listener over 72 minutes of music almost without what we would traditionally call melody (not completely true, as the viola part in Music for Percussion + Viola is extraordinarily and hauntingly beautiful.
The disc opens with Solo for one percussionist. Gert Mortensen plays it with virtuoso flair and a sense of drama, which is appropriate because this is music with a real theatrical flair. The trip from that to the more gentle world of the Music for Percussion + Viola with its long cantilena lines for the viola demonstrates the variety that is possible when a brilliant and inventive composer writes for percussion instruments. Third on the disc is La Primavera, performed by Mortensen and a Chinese percussionist, Qiao Jia Jia, with whom he often works as the Duo Crossfire. This piece is very different from both that went before it. The colors are soft and gentle here, with far less force and drama than was heard in Solo. While there are moments of intensity in the piece, for the most part La Primavera features delicate bells and an inner calm that draws the listener to it.
Periphrasis is unusual in its scoring for recorder and percussion, and is a piece of both invention and wit. It begins and ends quietly, but it is in an arch form with surprising theatricality and energy in its center, as the percussion and recorder interact and, as the very helpful notes indicate, chase each other musically. Winter Music is scored for five brass instruments and percussion, and is described as a “highly dramatic description of the hard winter period.” Indeed, winter in Scandinavia is something special, and it does sound as if Borup-Jørgensen is none too happy with winter conditions. The composer himself said “it is a music that is often heavy, lethargic and dark, and only towards the end are the latent forces let loose.” It is, in fact very powerful music, and makes a strong concluding work on the disc.
Fanfare readers will know themselves. If the idea of a disc of percussion music sounds like it won’t appeal to you, then you should probably stay away. Make no mistake: this is not background music—not something to put on to soothe yourself at the end of a busy day. But listeners with an open mind and open ears, willing to invest themselves in something different, are likely to find themselves delighted by the extraordinary range of moods and colors contained in this disc. Stunning performances and crystal clear recorded sound are all a composer could want.
Henry Fogel, September 2014