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US Magazine Fanfare (1. Review) - This recording is recommended for its fine playing and its attractive program. It goes on my Want List.

July 31, 2015

Alan Swanson

US Magazine Fanfare (1. Review)
NORDIC SOUND. Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen • Michala Petri (rcdr); Clemens Schuldt, cond; Lapland CO • OUR 6.220613 (69:12)
SØRENSEN Whispering. GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN Music for 13 Strings. For Axel “Boje”. RASMUSSEN Winter Echoes. CHRISTENSEN Nordic Summer Scherzo. T. CLAUSEN Concertino for Recorder and Strings. BORUP-JØRGENSEN Sommasvit, for String Orchestra, op. 24
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012), was a considerable force in post-war Danish composition. Though he had some congress with the Darmstadt School of composers, he kept his individual musical voice. Much of his considerable output is for small ensembles, and a recent disc of percussion music was well-received by Henry Fogel (38:3). He is himself represented on this disc by a piece for strings from 1957. All the other works, however, were written in 2014, to mark what would have been his 90th birthday anniversary. Whether or not the voices heard here are “Nordic” in any perceptible way is for the listener to decide.
The opening piece, by Bent Sørensen (1958-), in one movement, is a fine tapestry of subtle and often quite soft sound colors woven between the recorder and the strings. It is contemplative throughout, but not in the least soporific. The Music for 13 Strings by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (1932-) is consideraby sterner stuff. Elsewhere in this issue, I quite liked his Chacun son son, also from 2014. Both have a nervous energy that, to judge by his earlier piece and this one, is typical of his current work.
In his contribution to this tribute, Sunleif Rasmussen (1961-) uses all the recorders, beginning with the bass and moving up though the piece. Unlike an earlier piece by him, also reviewed together in this issue with Gudmundsen-Holngreen, he does not exact a great many special techniques from the recorder, though the glissandos are tricky. Mogens Christensen (1955-) begins with what sound like bird calls but uses them to derive material for development as the piece moves on. As the orchestra is based in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, Christensen has slid in a small internal tribute to Sibelius (whose 150th birthday anniversary it is in 2015, along with that of Carl Nielsen).
Thomas Clausen (1949-) is mostly known for his work in jazz and, while the Concertino cannot be sad to be “jazzy,” it does have a sprightly character that clearly recalls Baroque practice. This can be easily heard in the second movement which the notes say is related to Vivaldi, but I hear more of Bach’s Air from the third orchestral suite in its line.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s Sommasvit (1957) recalls his youth in southern Sweden, and is about as different from Clausen’s concertino as can be. Its four short movements and an epilogue are intended to represent the times of day at four places around Lake Sommen, in southern Sweden. This fine piece, composed before he attended the Darmstadt summer courses that brought serialism to wider attention, is very much in the Modernist tradition, but has its own, somewhat brooding, voice. In its way, this suite may come the closest to representing the “Nordic Sound” of this collection’s title.
This is first-rate music, and first-rate music-making. The always excellent Michala Petri needs no introduction in these pages, and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra—said to be the world’s northernmost professional orchestra—plays impeccably under Clemens Schuldt. This recording is recommended for its fine playing and its attractive program. It goes on my Want List. Alan Swanson

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