OUR Recordings www.ourrecordings.com have done much to bring the music of Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) www.borup-jorgensen.dk to the attention of listeners with a number of recordings already in the catalogue and with more planned.
Borup-Jørgensen was born in Hjørring in Denmark, but grew up in Sweden. It was the countryside and experience of nature of his childhood in Sweden that became a lifelong inspiration to him. He returned to Denmark to study piano at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and instrumentation with Poul Schierbeck and Jørgen Jersild and was one of the first Danish composers to go to the Darmstadt School. Borup-Jørgensen's works include music for orchestra, chamber music, songs with piano and other instruments.
OUR Recordings latest release features a selection of his piano music from across his compositional life played by Erik Kaltoft www.facebook.com/erik.kaltoft who not only knew Borup-Jørgensen but benefited from his advice concerning performances of the composer’s music.
Thalatta! Thalatta! (The Sea! The Sea!), Op. 127 (1987-88) opens with delicate rising phrases that are repeated before being slowly and subtly varied. Soon dissonant chords appear conjuring vividly the sense of fluidity, droplets of water within rippling flows. Borup-Jørgensen slowly builds some very fine layers, finding the ever changing and multi stranded nature of the sea. He conjures a vision of water that is removed from the violent restlessness of the ocean, a more finely wrought contemplation. Later the music falls to quieter little phrases full of carefully thought out, delicate dissonances before rediscovering the opening, rising phrases to lead to a gentle, quite coda.
Marine skitser (Marine Sketches) for Klaver, Op. 4b (1949) comprises of six miniatures, opening with a quizzical little motif that is immediately developed through bars of gentle simplicity, with a lovely delicacy. These pieces bring moments that are sometimes reminiscent of Ravel as well as richer more flowing music and a slow thoughtful piece with delicate notes over a deeper piano line. There is a faster moving sketch with incisive phrases and moments where some lovely chords are developed before this set concludes.
winter pieces, Op. 30b (1959) is a set of four miniatures the first of which has a sudden, strident opening which is developed through staccato passages. These pieces are full of varying tempi, dynamics and, most importantly pauses that add so much to the feeling of the music. Borup-Jørgensen brings little surprises throughout but always with an overall musical line. This is a terrific collection of pieces lasting just over four minutes in total.
Delicate phrases open sommer intermezzi (summer intermezzi), Op. 65 (1971) before a series of dissonant chords appear. There are little rising phrases, always with a delicate thoughtfulness. Occasional harsher dissonances appear to disturb the peace but overall the music retains a gentle sense of wonder, a summer pointed up by sudden more focused images, all quite beautifully phrased and shaped by this pianist with a final sudden upward phrase to end.
Passacaglia for klaver, Op. 2b (1948) opens with fuller, richer chords as it leads ahead through a fine, tonally free melody, only interrupted by more decorative ideas that illuminate the music before it develops its way forward through some broad, firm passages at the end.
regndråbe interludier (raindrop interludes), Op. 144 (1994) brings a gentle rising motif that is soon subjected to dissonances. Yet the gentle, delicate textures continue, often in little droplets that are repeatedly ‘dripped’ creating some magical harmonies.
epigrammer (epigrams), Op. 78 (1976) brings more of Borup-Jørgensen’s trademark delicacy and upward rising phrases developed through passages that bring lovely dissonances. There are telling pauses before the music develops some striking, spiky, more dynamic phrases. Later the music finds a walking pace before moving ahead rhythmically. There are more of this composer’s sudden surprises such as when the piano bursts out, high in its register. There are moments when the music that positively sparkles before slowing to separated phrases that bring about the coda.
Miniaturesuite, Op. 3b (1949) is another early work that brings a collection of five miniature movements or sections lasting in total just under three minutes. It opens purposefully with a fast moving theme that moves around restlessly before soon falling to a slowly meandering theme. There is a faster section that contains hints of Shostakovich in his more manic moments before a slow languid, rather French movement. A fast flowing section brings the coda.
Præludier for klaver (Preludes for piano), Op. 30a (1958-59) gathers together seven pieces of short duration that move from the opening Prelude with staccato phrases that leap around, through dynamic moments with louder bass chords, a little pause before a sudden outburst as well as sudden rippling phrases. It is the lovely delicate little phrases make the later sudden strong outbursts all the more telling before the Preludes conclude.
The unexpected work here is Borup-Jørgensen’s ‘Phantasiestücke’ for celeste, Op. 115 which has all of this composer’s trademark ideas. It opens with rippling upward phrases before stepping forward, repeating the upward chords and developing through some wonderfully delicate passages, finding some lovely sounds, always with the opening phrases in mind. Borup-Jørgensen writes beautifully and naturally for this instrument.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s piano music is shot through with a natural melodic base that underlies whatever he writes. Erik Kaltoft handles all of Borup-Jørgensen’s sudden twists and turns expertly, revealing a genuine empathy for this music.
The piano sound is perfectly caught in the Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music. There are excellent notes and, as usual with OUR Recordings, a nicely produced booklet with colour illustrations.