Klassisk (DK) - (6 stars Maximum) “THE WHISPERING GIANT”
September 30, 2017
Per Brask Madsen
(6 stars Maximum)
“THE WHISPERING GIANT”
As a person, Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) was unassuming, but his abstract and lyrical music could be extremely intense. Despite the fact that his springboard was expressionism and the Darmstadt modernism of the 1950s, it possesses a spontaneity and greater sensuality than the often barren attempts made by his central European colleagues.
Borup-Jørgensen’s daughter, recorder player Elisabet Selin and with the recording company OUR Recordings have during recent years been making a sterling effort to bring the composer more into the limelight. Snappier composers in a Danish context have tended to command listeners’ attention, but more people ought to allow themselves the pleasure of becoming engrossed in Borup-Jørgensen’s fascinating filigree world. The latest initiative is an excellent place to start, with something as rare as a new animated fiction film created for the major work ‘Marin’, 47 years after its first performance, along with a fine portrait film and, last but not least, a CD which delves into various phases of the composer’s long career.
The gigantic orchestral work ‘Marin’ (1963-70) was desperately wearing on the perfectionist Borup-Jørgensen, who almost threw in the towel several times during its composition. In a both abstract and tone-pictorial way and with an inconceivable wealth of detail, the work depicts maritime scenes, and in conjunction with Lückow Film’s animated sequence, the music becomes almost unbearably sinister. In this ambitious film we follow strange sea-folk that have shells instead of legs, and a royal couple who gaze over a city of seashells and mysterious monoliths; the plot offers plenty of space for one to be co-author, and Borup-Jørgensen’s masterpiece in elemental forces acquires a new, exciting caliber in its new surroundings. The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård’s new recording is also included on the accompanying CD, where it is possible to concentrate even more on their masterly rendition.
The portrait film ‘Axel’ provides an all-round view of the composer, including interviews with the man himself, his daughter and various others from the music world, providing insight into his background, his temperament, perfectionism, personal struggles and uncertainties, ideas about aesthetics – and much more. A few aspects are perhaps somewhat over-narrated, but in general the portrait gives one a fine picture of the composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen.
With its seven different works from 1956 up to 2011, the CD offers a nuanced picture and makes one even more eager to get to know this highly distinctive music. It is nothing less than fantastic with both complex and yet immediately comprehensible world of detail we meet in such works as ‘Marin’, the sinfonietta work ‘Coast of Sirens’ and ‘Winter Pieces’ for piano. Per Brask Madsen, Klassisk, October 2017