top of page

Gramophone (UK) - it´s the eccentricity and comprehensiveness of this product that make it both affecting and worthwhile.

November 30, 2017

Andrew Mellor

Gramophone (UK)
Marin was both a beginning and an ending for the Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen. Who put so much of himself into the piece that he never wrote for orchestra on the same scale again. It was commissioned by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation in 1965 to celebrate 40 years of its symphony orchestra; the corporation and it’s the conductor Herbert Blomstedt knew the young composer from a competition earlier that year.
In Marin, Borup-Jørgensen delivered an engrossing and monolithic vision of the see in various phases. As a listening experience it can be compared to pre-Grand Macabre Ligeti but the language occupies its own territory. The piece heaves itself up from the depths and, nearly 20 minutes, disintegrates at height. It is a true tapestry in which no instrument takes a predominant role, at one point, the violins alone divide into 55 parts.
This production is a curious one in some respect, but its triumph is that it treats Marin with the same everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach that its creator did (it took Borup-Jørgensen seven years to write, he rented a separate house in which he spend 1.000 hours completing the fair copy). Thomas Søndergård presides over an intense and clear reading of the score, recorded in DXD format, but that´s just for starters. On a separate DVD – complete with a subtle and illuminating documentary study of the composer with input from a raft of great names in Danish music – we see a newly commissioned animated film by Morten Bartholdy. It conjures a curious, magical underwater world where semi-organic, abstract shapes are formed and coalesce as if prompted by the unfurling score itself.
Watching the film at the premiere in May, in the comfort of a Copenhagen cinema with Marin rumbling in full surround-sound, I was utterly seduced. Watching on a small screen inevitably has less impact, but still the synergy of music and image intrigues, despite the aesthetic specificity and oddity of the latter component (that´s probably the point). Filling the SACD are works by the same composer that features on previous OUR Recordings issues, and the level of performers is high: Mahan Esfahani, Michala Petri, Tim Frederiksen and many more feature, in addition to the composer´s daughter Elisabet Selin, who gives a compelling performance of Nachstück. The English-language booklet could have used a professional proofread. But just like the essay “On Hearing Marin in 2017: Reflections from a Young Person” by Agnete Hannibal Petri – Lars Hannibal and Michala Petri`s daughter – it´s the eccentricity and comprehensiveness of this product that make it both affecting and worthwhile: Andrew Mellor, Gramophone, December 2017

bottom of page