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Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
BRAVO!
Grego Applegate Edwards,
February 24 2017
Those who like me revel in the cathedral organ and at the same time respond readily to high modernism in this context (for example in the organ music of Messiaen) will find the recent release of Axel Borup-Jorgensen's Organ Music (Our Recordings 6.220617) quite appealing, a sophisticated trip into an organic cosmos both mysterious and bracing.

He was born in 1924 in Denmark, grew up in Sweden, lived a quiet but productive life as composer and teacher and left this world in 2012. Originally primarily a pianist-composer (type his name in the search box above for a review of some of that), he became increasingly attracted to the organ, happily, since the current release contains nine works that stand out for their contrasting quietude and energy, their subtle shifts and cosmic openness. This is a music of matter-of-fact suchness rather than virtuoso complexities. Part of that has to do with Axel's insurance that the works would be well performed by very competent players who were not necessarily leading technicians.

Borup-Jorgensen's attention to nuance and atmospheric presence, of silence into sound and vice-versa ensure that we do not miss extended passages of demonically difficult passagework. His is a music of the earth and sky, a spiritual reaching out to sonic worlds we do not often dwell in, an original cosmos of organicity,

The nine works on the CD include three for organ alone, one for organ duo, one for cembalo and organ,  two for organ and percussionist, one for alto and organ and one for bass and organ.

"Winter Music" for percussion and organ makes use of the cathedral space for some dramatically resonant drums against a searching organ. That one is perhaps the most dramatic but Jens E. Christensen's careful attention to detail and sympathy for the Borup-Jorgensen universe ensure that we are immersed in a sonic wash of sound that is as extended in modern realms as it is unassumung.

This is not music to overwhelm the senses or shock. It is a very personal journey into Borup-Jorgensen's exploration of sonic and textural possibilities latent in the modern cathedral organ.

Bravo!
Posted by Grego Applegate Edwards at 5:45 AM February 24rd 2017
Grego Applegate Edwards,

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s music is very special if not strange, yet atmospheric and, at the end, inspiring if not magic
Oliver Fraenzke, Pizzicato, Luxumburg
27 January 2017
Er kam nie wirklich zu internationaler Bekanntheit, der 2012 in hohem Alter verstorbene Däne Axel Borup-Jørgensen. Erst nach seinem Tod wurde man langsam auf ihn aufmerksam, nicht zuletzt durch die Edition Borup-Jørgensen des Labels Our Recordings, das vor allem durch ihren « Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen: Nordic Sound » (Our Recordings 6.220613) mit fünf extra für diesen Anlass komponierten Werken von namhaften Komponisten für Flöte und Streicher für Aufsehen sorgte – Bent Sørensen, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Sunleif Rasmussen, Morgens Christensen und Thomas Clausen steuerten je ein Werk bei.
Borup-Jørgensen in eine Schublade zu ordnen, fällt schwer, da er auf eigenen Pfaden wandelte, sich immer wieder neu erfand und seinen Stil modifizierte. Am ehesten könnte man ihn durch seine stimmungsvoll-flüchtige Atmosphärik vielleicht den Post-Impressionisten nahestellen. Große Geste, Aufbegehren oder triumphale Extraversion wird man vergebens suchen, man findet zarte Tropfen von zerbrechlicher Anmut und surreal erscheinender Eleganz. Wo es keine Expansion gibt, gibt es auch keine zielgerichtete Stringenz, und so zeichnet sich die Musik Borup-Jørgensens eher durch Kreisen oder Umherwandern aus, oft um verschiedene Patterns wandelnd. Die Musik erscheint so fremdartig und ungewohnt, man kann sich kaum heimisch fühlen in diesen Klängen, und doch lädt sie einen auf wunderbar inspirierende Reisen ein und der Hörer kann sich treiben lassen von andeutender Magie.
Fünfundvierzig Jahre lang arbeitete Erik Kaltoft mit dem Komponisten zusammen, dies spiegelt sich unweigerlich in der Musik und ihrer Wiedergabe wider. Mit vollster Souveränität und Selbstverständlichkeit geht Kaltoft an diese Musik heran und stellt sich voll in ihren Dienst. Er blendet die interpretatorische Subjektivität vollkommen aus, so dass der Hörer fast meinen könnte, die Musik spiele aus sich heraus ohne einen ausführenden Pianisten. Alles entsteht aus dem Moment heraus, direkt aus der Stille kommend, in feinst gewachsener Natürlichkeit. In dieser Aufnahme zeigt sich, wie sehr der darbietende Musiker und der Komponist verschmelzen können und welch ein suggestiv fesselndes Ganzes daraus resultieren kann. Oliver Fraenzke, 27.01.2017
Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s music is very special if not strange, yet atmospheric and, at the end, inspiring if not magic. Erik Kaltoft, a long-time collaborator of the composer, fascinates with outstanding and suggestive performances.
Oliver Fraenzke, Pizzicato, Luxumburg

Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
I recommend this disc wholeheartedly.
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare Magazine USA
07 December 2016

Readers possessed of particularly good memories may recall my favorable review of Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s piano music just two issues ago. This Danish composer had an unusually distinct compositional voice, one which might not appeal to every reader of this magazine, but would to many readers, as it did to this reviewer. These are not showy virtuosic works, but (as the booklet notes) they emerge from stillness. The disc opens with Portal, scored for organ and percussion, wherein the listener is quickly immersed in thunder-evoking timpani rolls (the effect, however, is quite dissimilar to that produced by Berlioz in his Symphonie fantastique). The organ is used only in the piece to employ subtle dissonant chords in its tenor register, as the timpani dominates the proceedings throughout. For orgel IV features almost other-worldly sonorities in the organ, produced by sustained clusters of notes in the treble staff with Pointillistic interjections by the feet and other hand of the organist. Around the five-minute mark, Borup-Jørgensen brings in some of the ascending non-tonal arpeggiated figures that I noted in a number of his piano works in my previous review. The organ is equally if not more effective in this figuration.

Strophen adds an alto voice to the organ. The dark character of the voice is enhanced by the equally dark stops employed in the piece, and the work is the musicafication (don’t go looking this word up in your dictionary: It’s my coinage for the musical equivalent of personification) of depression. So, I wouldn’t listen to this if you need a good cheering up, but the piece will reveal its exquisite beauty to most listeners. Kalligrafier continues the mood but not the register of the preceding work, as it resumes an exploration of the upper notes in the organ’s wide range of pitches. As far as I can tell without access to a score, the piece eschews the pedals entirely, in fact. It forms an interesting conflation of Pointillistic and sustained sonorities, and ends in a whisper. Für Cembalo und Orgel deftly synthesizes harpsichord and organ sounds, something that I doubt that Max Reger, for instance, could have brought off, even if he’d wanted to. Borup-Jørgensen can get away with it because for him the organ is rarely the powerhouse instrument that it often is for other composers; it is instead a vehicle for colors, often pastel ones. Thus, this combination of harpsichord and organ, given its utterly distinctive sound, is a particular testimony to his gifts as a composer. It is my favorite work on the disc.

Textures are unsurprisingly more dense in the Organo per due for two organists, which was written for Eva Feldbæk and her colleague Jens Christensen. The notes don’t specify if this work is intended to be played on a single instrument or on two. By Borup-Jørgensen’s standards, the piece becomes more dramatically turgid than does most of his generally subtle music. Trilogi adds a bass voice to the organ, or more accurately, alternates organ and bass, as the two never perform simultaneously. The organ plays a few dissonant chords, and the bass follows with a wandering, more tonally focused line, and back and forth they go. The effect of the piece is an evocation of timelessness, and it is hauntingly beautiful. The text of this work is drawn from writings of Rilke and Nietzsche, and deals with transitions to darker times, reflections I have to say are particularly appropriate nowadays.

The Italian word misterioso graces the score at the beginning of For orgel XI, and sums up the essence of the piece. This particular work utilizes a greater range of the organ than most heard herein, as the composer explores different registers in its various sections. Closing the disc is winter music, which once again adds percussion and, like the first work in the recital, opens with a roll in the timpani. This work is, however, almost 10 times the length of Portal, giving the composer much more time to develop his ideas, and here the organ also has a much more prominent role. The piece is full of sound and fury (at around the seven-minute mark, you’ll hear the greatest outburst of timpani you’ve likely ever heard in a piece of music), but unlike what Shakespeare has his character state in Macbeth, it does signify something, and something quite profound at that. As in Strophen, this is dark music, and will engender sober reflection on the part of the listener.

Listening to an entire CD of music by Axel Borup-Jørgensen is quite an emotionally draining experience, although the experience lingers pleasantly in my memory, as I like Borup-Jørgensen’s organ music even better than I did his piano music. Aficionados of the new and unusual will find it as rewarding as I did, and to them, I recommend this disc wholeheartedly.

David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare Magazine USA

Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
A phenomenal release that rewards repeated listening.
Colin Clarke, Fanfare
30 November 2017
A disc of piano music by Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen made the 2016 Want List of my colleague Marc Medwin (issued on the same label as this organ disc, catalog number 6.220616.) The organ music of Borup-Jørgensen seems to be equally impressive. The introspection that the composer exhibited as a person is reflected in his sound-world, which is intensely private. One feels almost privileged to be eavesdropping into these musings; and as one listens, one hears that this is music of no compromise. There is a purity and honesty to Borup-Jørgensen’s expression that makes for compelling listening.
This is an SACD release, and the sound is stunning. The 2009 piece Portal is scored for organ and percussion and was written for a concert celebrating his own 85th birthday. There is an almost primal facet here, the drama of the timpani swells counteracted by the organ’s slitherings. Only one minute 40 seconds long, it punches way above its weight. It leads to the earlier (1983/4) piece for Orgel IV. Marked as “gliding but without haste,” the piece is dedicated to the present performer (the close musical relationship between performer and composer is chronicled in the booklet by Christensen.)  There is a sort of Messiaen-like hypnosis to the slow moving surface; the move from this work to Strophen is simply like moving from one room to the next. Scored for mezzo and organ, the much earlier Strophen (1961) sets a poem by Rilke (from Das Buch der Bilder). Enigmatic in the extreme, in terms of harmony, its somewhat Schoenbergian melodic shapes and its low dynamics, it operates as a question mark in sound.
The art of calligraphy inspired Kalligrafier of 1985/6. A mere five minutes in duration, it is a tightly constructed meditation. The fascinating combination of harpsichord and organ is impressively explored in Für Cembalo und Orgel of 1989. Mahan Esfahani is the virtuoso harpsichordist whose virtuoso, rapid gestures complement the slow-moving majesty of Christensen’s playing. The organ positively glistens in this recording, so the sonic contrast is one of ethereal, silvery sounds of the organ against impish silvery sounds from the harpsichord. The result is phenomenal, a real treat for the ears. Borup-Jørgensen’s sense of harmonic coherence ensures the work never wanders.
Organ duets are on the same level of rarity as didgeridoo duets, I imagine (and before you say anything, I actually own a tape of music for two didgeridoos, or whatever the plural of didgeridoo is.) Dating from the same year as Für Cembalo und Orgel, Organo per due is if anything more remarkable. As Jens E. Christensen says in his booklet notes, “the diversity of sound in the music makes one think of electronic music.” And diverse the sounds are indeed, but this never sounds like a soundtrack to a “B” horror movie: the intent, and the result, are serious and perfectly delivered.
Taking texts by Rilke and Nietsche, Trilogi of 1996 is for bass and organ (here performed by bass-baritone Jakob Bloch Jespersen.) The organ and voice parts are largely separate. In one sense, the organ commentates and responds to the voice’s declamations; mutual responses to the darkness of Winter and a leave-taking from Summer and Autumn. Jespersen is superbly firm of line, something worth noting given the wide meanderings he has to deliver.
The world of the For Orgel series returns with For Orgel XI of 1991—94, mysterious and profound before the extended Winter Music of 1986/7 rounds off the disc. This latter work, for organ and percussion and therefore creating a perfect balance within the program, is a varied panorama of sound. The percussion contribution includes dramatic gestures from cymbals, while the timpani seems to refer to the natural phenomena of wind and thunder.  
The organ playing of Jens E. Christensen is of sterling quality throughout; as noted above but worth underlining, the recording itself is demonstration standard. A phenomenal release that rewards repeated listening.  
Colin Clarke, Fanfare

Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
A phenomenal release that rewards repeated listening.
Colin Clarke, Fanfare USA
29 November 2016
A disc of piano music by Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen made the 2016 Want List of my colleague Marc Medwin (issued on the same label as this organ disc, catalog number 6.220616.) The organ music of Borup-Jørgensen seems to be equally impressive. The introspection that the composer exhibited as a person is reflected in his sound-world, which is intensely private. One feels almost privileged to be eavesdropping into these musings; and as one listens, one hears that this is music of no compromise. There is a purity and honesty to Borup-Jørgensen’s expression that makes for compelling listening.
This is an SACD release, and the sound is stunning. The 2009 piece Portal is scored for organ and percussion and was written for a concert celebrating his own 85th birthday. There is an almost primal facet here, the drama of the timpani swells counteracted by the organ’s slitherings. Only one minute 40 seconds long, it punches way above its weight. It leads to the earlier (1983/4) piece for Orgel IV. Marked as “gliding but without haste,” the piece is dedicated to the present performer (the close musical relationship between performer and composer is chronicled in the booklet by Christensen.)  There is a sort of Messiaen-like hypnosis to the slow moving surface; the move from this work to Strophen is simply like moving from one room to the next. Scored for mezzo and organ, the much earlier Strophen (1961) sets a poem by Rilke (from Das Buch der Bilder). Enigmatic in the extreme, in terms of harmony, its somewhat Schoenbergian melodic shapes and its low dynamics, it operates as a question mark in sound.
The art of calligraphy inspired Kalligrafier of 1985/6. A mere five minutes in duration, it is a tightly constructed meditation. The fascinating combination of harpsichord and organ is impressively explored in Für Cembalo und Orgel of 1989. Mahan Esfahani is the virtuoso harpsichordist whose virtuoso, rapid gestures complement the slow-moving majesty of Christensen’s playing. The organ positively glistens in this recording, so the sonic contrast is one of ethereal, silvery sounds of the organ against impish silvery sounds from the harpsichord. The result is phenomenal, a real treat for the ears. Borup-Jørgensen’s sense of harmonic coherence ensures the work never wanders.
Organ duets are on the same level of rarity as didgeridoo duets, I imagine (and before you say anything, I actually own a tape of music for two didgeridoos, or whatever the plural of didgeridoo is.) Dating from the same year as Für Cembalo und Orgel, Organo per due is if anything more remarkable. As Jens E. Christensen says in his booklet notes, “the diversity of sound in the music makes one think of electronic music.” And diverse the sounds are indeed, but this never sounds like a soundtrack to a “B” horror movie: the intent, and the result, are serious and perfectly delivered.
Taking texts by Rilke and Nietsche, Trilogi of 1996 is for bass and organ (here performed by bass-baritone Jakob Bloch Jespersen.) The organ and voice parts are largely separate. In one sense, the organ commentates and responds to the voice’s declamations; mutual responses to the darkness of Winter and a leave-taking from Summer and Autumn. Jespersen is superbly firm of line, something worth noting given the wide meanderings he has to deliver.
The world of the For Orgel series returns with For Orgel XI of 1991—94, mysterious and profound before the extended Winter Music of 1986/7 rounds off the disc. This latter work, for organ and percussion and therefore creating a perfect balance within the program, is a varied panorama of sound. The percussion contribution includes dramatic gestures from cymbals, while the timpani seems to refer to the natural phenomena of wind and thunder.   
The organ playing of Jens E. Christensen is of sterling quality throughout; as noted above but worth underlining, the recording itself is demonstration standard. A phenomenal release that rewards repeated listening. 
Colin Clarke, Fanfare USA

Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
The 5.0 multichannel is splendid, and the stereo comes close".
John Miller and HRAudio.net
28 November 2016
Performance: 4.5 stars
Sonics (Stereo): 4.5 stars
Sonics (Multichannel):5.0 stars (Max!)
Axel Borup-Jørgensen, born in Denmark, lived with music from 1924-2012. When he was 2, his parents moved to Sweden, and after some travelling settled at the small country town of Mjölby. His father was an inventor by nature and young Axel inherited his creativity. From his early boyhood, he was able to play several instruments by ear: mouth organ, small accordion, mandolin and piano, which he played at school. In parallel, Axel became an artist skilled at drawing, and also studied astronomy. His wish was to become an engineer or architect.
For the rest of his career, he never had an official post and thought of himself as self-taught, and his engineer's working in high levels of detailing persisted in all his musical compositions. These changed to a preference for classical music, after his piano teaching gave him Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata. This made the piano his favourite instrument, and in 1946, Axel Borup-Jørgensen returned to Denmark as a student at The Royal Danish Academy of Music, with the piano as his main subject and supplementary lessons in other instruments.
 Another element of his early life which deeply affected his music was the influence of nature's Sweden. A younger composer, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holm Green, said of Sweden "Borup has found its own, poetic beauty. He is a kind of composers poet. He has a Swedish touch in his music, one can almost hear the Swedish forests and the great room and peculiar melancholy that often hovers over Swedish art ". In 1942, the family acquired a small island in a lake on the border between Östergötland and Småland. This gave Borup-Jørgensen the pleasure of walking, cycling and rowing during the summer holidays, and losing himself in the stillness of nature. Even while he was working in Copenhagen, he kept visiting his parents on their Swedish island, maintaining his interest in that country.
After graduating, Borup-Jørgensen became a piano teacher with private students. In 1959, he visited Darmstadt School which every other summer held a two-week International Summer Course for New Music, which became the centre of modern music. He was already interested in the progress of music in Denmark, and he was developing his own interpretation of it. His early compositions were in German Romantic style. Then he moved towards French Impression; next, gathering increasingly complex rhythms with bitonality and then atonality (not serialism).
Looking at Borup-Jørgensen's output, chamber music dominates. There are some vocals but only a few orchestral pieces. The chamber formats are often unusual, involving guitar, percussion, viola, recorder and celeste (harking back to his youth) and similar duets occur in a number of the organ pieces (24), of which 9 are on this disc. Percussion is one of the commonest additions; it appears in three of this SACD's programme, with duets of harpsichord, alto and bass baritone, leaving only two solo and one duet for the organ alone.
The organ chosen for this disc is Vor Freisers Kirke (Our Christ's Church) in Copenhagen, a highly decorated Baroque church, well-known because of its twisted spire reaching skywards. The magnificent façade of the organ case on the west wall of the church is one of the most photographed music instruments in the world. A glorious three-storey organ case contains a superb instrument built by the Botzen brothers in 1696-98. The organ has more than 4000 pipes with 4 manuals and pedal-board. After restoration the entire instrument produces the sound that was heard in the church over 300 years ago.
 However, organist Jens E. Christensen plays Borup-Jørgensen's scores with only a sparse palette of stops overall, mainly a few simple principals such as Diapasons and Flutes.16' and 32' ranks are also sparsely used, except for some more lengthy passages such as 'In Winter' where sometimes the organ battles with the percussion (Track 9). Rather than an organ recital, in this selection, Borup-Jørgensen's pieces are mainly duos, with the organ mostly acting as an accompanying instrument, usually played slowly and with a volume rarely louder than mezzo-forte.
In my opinion, the most expressive works are those with human voices. 'Strophen' op. 39 (1961) takes texts from poet Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Das Buch der Bilder' (The book of Images) and Pia Rose Hansen, a fine alto, gives this contemplative piece a grave, mysterious, languid and beautiful but very slow rendering; it is static music. 'Trilogie' for bass and organ, op. 154.4 (1996) contains two poems by Rilke and the other by Friedrich Nietzsche - Rilke 'Autumn day' and 'O Trees of life' with Friedrich Nietzsche's 'Lonely'. Jacob Bloch is the bass baritone and he is masterful at exploiting the responsive acoustic of the church, for once more the whole piece has to be very slow and the singing utterly miserable in what is a long solo with only short, quiet interpolations from the organ. Danish versions of the German texts are given, but it is a great pity that an English translation was not presented, although I suppose that translating of Rilka's poetry is particularly difficult.
The British-Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani is part of the duet in Für Cembalo und Orgel op. 133.2 (1989). A conversation between the plucked and the wind instruments is carried out in a set of continuous short pieces, some of them thankfully rather faster than usual. Mathias Reumert is well-known as a percussionist, conductor and arranger as well as the leader of ensemble EKKOZONE and his parts are first ('Portal' for percussion and organ op 182, 2009) and last ('Winter Music' for percussion and organ op. 113.2, 1986-7). 'Winter Music' has drawn some notoriety for Borup-Jørgensen; a CD recording has already been marketed (Marco Polo, organist Eva Feldbæk and Gert S. Sørensen). Remarkably it is only a few seconds difference in timing (15:22, Christensen vs. 15:46, Feldbæk),
 Misery, duress and violence seem to be the vision of Winter held by Borup-Jørgensen, followed by some remarkable instructions to Reumert demonstrating his unconventional scores, apparently full of illustrations. The instructions include "sluggishly", "tiredly", "irregularly", "woolly", "vague", "gliding", and all of these appear to be employed.
The Winter gives us a marvellous example of the responsive acoustic captured for recording by former hornist Preben Iwan, now regarded as an internationally famous recording engineer, mixer and producer. By Danish standards, the dimensions of the church are enormous. The height to the ceiling rafters is 36 metres, but the large resonance has been tamed, and it is particularly beautiful around the singers rather than the instruments. Larger drums are well back, so the wide echo they produce gives one a real frisson. Recorded in the DXD audio format (Digital eXtreme Defination) at 352.8 kHz/32 bit, the 5.0 multichannel is splendid, and the stereo comes close.
OUR Records' bright lemon-covered digipak has a well-illustrated booklet in Danish, English and German, where the organist Christensen has contributed an interesting account of working with Borup-Jørgensen as this quiet man "characterized by his focus on minute details of sound and texture”.
 
OUR Records' has an on-going series of Axel Borup-Jørgensen, with most of the pieces on this present SACD being premières. I commend all taking part in further opening his unique style to a wider audience. While respecting Axel Borup-Jørgensen's music on this disc, I confess not to particularly enjoy the music, which in its tendency to slowness, consistent dissonance and extreme detail leaves my mind wandering. From that point of view, I feel that potential buyers should be warned that this is not of the usual organ recital type, although listeners with special interest in hifi recordings might well be interested in the particular sonics of 'Winter Music'. My advice would be to go to Our Record's web site at http://www.ourrecordings.com/releases/Organ-Music. Select the tab "TRACKLIST", and each track has a "Listen" button press this to hear the track. Most unusually, this plays the whole piece.
John Miller and HRAudio.net

Jens E. Christensen, organ
Organ Music (Release Nov 2016)
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
10/10/10 "Zeitgenössische Musik vom Feinsten!"
Heinz Braun, 23.11.2016 Klassik heute
23 November 2016
Das kleine, aber feine dänische audiophile Label OUR Recordings engagiert sich seit Längerem intensiv für die Musik Axel Borup-Jørgensens (1924-2012), einem der bedeutendsten skandinavischen Komponisten des vergangenen Jahrhunderts. Nach einer erst jüngst veröffentlichten CD mit Klaviermusik des Komponisten folgt nun eine repräsentative Auswahl seiner Orgelwerke.
Ausgangs- und Endpunkt des Programms bilden zwei Kompositionen für Orgel und Schlagzeug: Portal, ein konzises, doch kraftvoll-monolithisches Eröffnungsstück, das sich Borup-Jørgensen 2009 selbst zum 85. Geburtstag geschrieben hat sowie die über viertelstündige winter music von 1986/87.
Die zwei Solostücke for orgel IV und XI (1983/84 bzw. 1991-94 entstanden) stehen in vielerlei Hinsicht prototypisch für den Stil des Komponisten mit seiner feinsinnigen Auslotung der spezifischen Orgelsonorität, Akkordbrechungen und melodischen Verästelungen. Insbesonders das spätere der beiden Werke beeindruckt durch seine geheimnisvollen, dunkel-gedeckten Farben. Der Zyklus Kalligrafier mit seinen pointilistisch kontrastierenden Miniaturen ergänzt die beiden Solowerke.
In den beiden Instrumentalduos organo per due für zwei Organisten sowie Für Cembalo und Orgel verfolgt Borup-Jørgensen unterschiedliche Ansätze: Während sich im Orgel-Duo explosives Donnergrollen und Klangsplitter im höchsten Register gegenüberstehen, gelingt dem Komponisten in der ungewöhnlichen Kombination von Cembalo und Orgel ein kommunikatives Zwiegespräch, bei dem sich der dunkle Orgelklang mit dem silbrig hellen Cembalo kontrastiert, sich gegenseitig ergänzt und kommentiert.
Eines der frühesten Stücke der CD, die Rilke-Vertonung Strophen aus „Das Buch der Bilder“ von 1961 für Alt und Orgel zählt für mich zu den Höhepunkten des Programms. Die wunderbare Solistin Pia Rose Hansen verleiht diesem kontemplativen Stück den unabdingbaren großen Bogen, ein in sich ruhendes Fließen und eine selbstverständliche, unaufgeregte, nichts wollende Gelassenheit. Noch reduzierter wirkt Borup-Jørgensens Musiksprache in seinen Trilogi: Hier setzt der Komponist drei berühmte deutsche Gedichte (Rilkes „Herbsttag“ und „O Bäume Lebens“ aus den Duineser Elegien sowie Friedrich Nietzsches „Vereinsamt“) für Bass und Orgel. Der Vokalpart mit seinen expressiven, großen Intervallsprüngen und melismatischen Linien wird hier nur ganz selten und äußerst behutsam von der Orgel sekundiert. Der Bariton Jakob Bloch Jespersen reiht sich ein in eine Liste außerordentlicher Interpreten, allen voran der hochsensible Organist Jens E. Christensen, der sich mit einzigartigem Gespür in die Musiksprache Borup-Jørgensens eingefühlt hat. Ebenso erfreulich ist es, dass OUR Recordings
mit dem britisch-iranischen Cembalisten Mahan Esfahani einen der herausragenden Interpreten seines Faches für die Aufnahme gewinnen konnte. Das längste und meines Erachtens ergreifendste Stück steht am Schluss der CD: die 1986/87 komponierte winter music für Schlagzeug und Orgel (Jens E. Christensen hier im Duett mit dem fantastischen Perkussionisten Mathias Reumert). Die Dunkelheit und Gewalt des Winters nimmt mit sich auftürmenden Klangballungen der Orgel und wilden, fast rohen Schlagzeugsalven klingend Gestalt an. Eine starke, erschütternde Musik, die man so leicht nicht vergisst.
Lässt man sich auf sie ein, entfaltet Borup-Jørgensens Klangsprache einen einzigartigen Zauber, dessen Ernsthaftigkeit und Klangsinnlichkeit man sich kaum entziehen kann. Zeitgenössische Musik vom Feinsten! 
Heinz Braun, 23.11.2016 Klassik heute

Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Michala Petri, recorder
Let The Angels Sing
European Christmas Carols and Songs in New Arrangements for Recorder and Choir
A Wealth of Pleasure
Roderic Dunnett, www.dailyclassicalmusic.com
Daily Classical Music. com
A Wealth of Pleasure
'The singing throughout is of a high quality ...
The Danish National Radio Choir, under Stefan Parkman, was one of the treasures of the Chandos label's choral output some time ago. The present ensemble first saw light of day in 2007 as the National Vocal Ensemble, and has already been picked up by Naxos. Their singing has been described as transparent, bright and pure, and highly applauded for its remarkable technical precision.
While there are numerous discs of Christmas carols to be explored, the difference here with Let The Angels Sing is the freshness of the new arrangements, made by the group's conductor, Michael Bojesen. In particular, he has imported a recorder, here the utterly delightful, expressive virtuoso performer Michala Petri.
The overall result is a medieval feeling throughout, most especially when the recorder is given an exposed solo passage, as at the opening, in Infant Holy, and midway through Angelus ad Virginem.
The real invention begins with Up Good Christen Folk, where a vocal bells effect is highly attractive and the recorder takes off, pirouetting in a beautifully and aptly conceived descant.
The Czech baroque hymn Rocking, like several of these items (In Dulci Jubilo, Unto Us is Born), acquires an appetising and unusual short prelude. The men come into their own to good effect, with a thrumming bass drone and eloquent tenor singing of the melody, in A Virgin Most Pure; and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear also benefits from a men-only arrangement. These lower voices are profoundly atmospheric, and their legato treatment here is highly beneficial — not so far from Welsh male voice choirs in manner. The Coventry Carol reintroduces the recorder, in a lovely and by no means obviously shaped first and last verse descant. God Rest You has a canonic treatment midway. One of the perkiest is an earlier Czech offering (seventeenth century), the Zither Carol ('Girls and boys, leave your toys, make no noise ...'), which positively dances through the story of the shepherds and the wise men.
Recorder in lower register is a feature of Infant Holy, to which Bojesen brings slightly unusual, appealing harmonies. The boldest introductory and midway patter for Petri comes as the introduction to There stood in heav'n a linden tree ..., whose roots lie in an early German medieval carol (fourteenth century).
Girls and men alternate in the traditional way for Good King Wenceslas. Perhaps the most attractive solo is actually vocal — a delightful version of Blessed Be That Maid Mary, in which G R Woodward's exquisite Marian text is an ideal match for the fifteenth century English melody; and the women's voices as a whole have a charming passage also.
O Come, o come, Emmanuel makes a suitable conclusion.
The singing throughout is of a high quality, even if relatively traditional and without a particularly individual sound. For those to whom the carol is not merely a Christmas speciality, but something to be enjoyed at any time of the year, Bojesen's sensible pacings and of course Petri's almost angelic playing will surely bring a wealth of pleasure.
Roderic Dunnett, www.dailyclassicalmusic.com

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Eine CD, die in jeder Sammlung stehen sollte
Thomas Müller-Schmitt, Windkanal, Germany
12. October 2016
Nach englishen, chinesischen, und dänischen Blockflötenkonzerten hat Michala Petri nun auch eine CD mit zwei deutschen in einem französischer Werk vorgelegt. Den Beginn macht gleich Markus Zahnhausen mit seonem “Recordare”, ein Werk, dass den für mich meditativen Teil des Albums Albums abdeckt: Ein wunderbares Stück, das auch nicht in den schnellen und virtuosen Teilen seine Ruhe verliert und auch mir Erlebtes in Erinnerung ruft oder Klänge, die ich irgendwo einmal gehört habe. Danke Markus für dieses Konzert!
Fabrice Bollons “Your Voice Out Of The Lamb” kommt ungleich nerv¨ser und hektischer daher. Die Blockflöte befindet sich in diesem Werk im Grenzbereich zwischen Kult-Pop und Klassik – mit Effekten wie Verzögerung, Echo, Wah-Wah etc. ausgestattet – und nutzt alle Grössen von Sopranino bit Subbass. Auf seine Weise auch ein tolles Werk.
Nach diesen beiden Höhepunkten kommt einem Hörer wie mir Günther Kochans ”Musik für Altblockflöte, 25 Streicher und Schlagwerk” erst einmal etwas befremdlich vor; aber nach einigen Male intensive Höres habe ich die Music doch serh zu schätzen gelernt. Es ist in manchen Teilen radikal, manches meditative, aber immer gut gemacht und sehr interessant. Michala Petri is wie immer die perfekte und sichere Interpretin dieser Werke: Da kann etwas noch so schwer sin, sie steht technisch immer über den Dingen und kann sich dadurch erlauben, sich volkommen auf die Musik zu Konzentrieren. Das Odense Symphony Orchestra steht mit seinem Dirigenten Christoph Poppen selbstbewusst zur Seite.
Eine CD, die in jeder Sammlung stehen sollte
Thomas Müller-Schmitt, Windkanal, Germany

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
. Erik Kaltoft handles all of Borup-Jørgensen’s sudden twists and turns expertly, revealing a genuine empathy for this music.
The Classical Reviewer
18.September 2016
A new release from OUR Recordings features pianist, Erik Kaltoft who reveals a genuine empathy for the piano works of Axel Borup-Jørgensen
 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

The Classical Reviewer

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
anybody who makes a serious effort of concentrated listening should end up loving this music. Or, so I would hope. Excellent
Grego Applegate Edwards's, Gapplegate Classical
7.September 2016
I first thought of "cantankerous" as I listened to the Piano Music (OUR Recordings 6.220616) of Axel Borup-Jorgensen. But no, a better phrase might be "courageously wayward." Satie, Alkan and Sorabji come to mind when you hear this well done anthology of Axel's solo piano works spanning the wide period from 1948 to 1994. He sounds more like Satie or Messiaen  than the others, but in the end he sounds like himself and like the others he is in opposition to the prevailing trends in his lifetime. He is post-impressionist in his ambiance, but peculiarly, originally declamatory and sometimes inclined towards ostinatos and structured repetitions without sounding minimalist.

He has a beautifully developed sense of exotic harmonic logic (as did Messiaen) which he puts to brilliant use in his sometimes whimsical, speech-like or other-worldly phraseology. What is also remarkable is how he has stuck very much to his own way and developed it in the course of the 46 years represented by these pieces.

Erik Kaltoft plays the piano (and celeste) role like he was born to it, carefully nuancing what in other hands might sound on occasion clumsy. The music requires a poetic vision and a very sensitive touch to sound properly, it seems to me. Kaltoft delivers with superb performances.

Anyone with an appreciation of piano ambiance and looking for an alternative to Debussy, Satie and Messiaen will in time take to this music, I do believe. But anybody who makes a serious effort of concentrated listening should end up loving this music. Or, so I would hope. Excellent!
Grego Applegate Edwards's, Gapplegate Classical

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Crescendo Belgium review.
Jean-Baptiste Baronian, Crescendo, Belgium
26.August 2016
Également appelée flûte douce, la flûte à bec a été au Moyen Âge d’un usage courant dans la musique populaire et sa technique s’est améliorée au cours des siècles, avant de séduire au XVIIe et au XVIIIe la plupart des compositeurs. On sait ainsi que Jean-Sébastien Bach a souvent utilisé la flûte à bec par groupe de deux dans une bonne vingtaine de ses cantates et que, pour sa part, George Philip Telemann l’a littéralement magnifiée à travers de très nombreuses partitions (sonates, trios, quatuors, suites, concertos, etc.). Après un silence de plus de cent cinquante ans, il aura toutefois fallu attendre le XXe siècle pour qu’elle intéresse de nouveau des musiciens de toute premier plan, de Paul Hindemith à Benjamin Britten, ou de Hans Werner Henze à Luciano Berio, en passant par Michael Tippett ou Louis Andriessen.  Peut-on pour autant parler de renouveau de la flûte de bec ? Est-ce que dans la grande majorité des œuvres où elle intervient, elle ne jouerait pas plutôt un rôle anecdotique, malgré le fait qu’elle arrive à produire des effets sonores tour à tour raffinés et insolites ?
Le présent CD rassemble trois œuvres peu connues ressortissant au répertoire contemporain de la flûte à bec et interprétées par Michala Petri, toujours disponible quand il s’agit de participer à des créations mondiales. Au vrai, ces trois œuvres n’ont rien d’extraordinaire et semblent constituer des exercices de style – exercice dont s’acquitte plutôt bien Günter Kochan, un des rares compositeurs de la RDA à n’avoir pas sacrifié tout son talent au réalisme socialiste.

Jean-Baptiste Baronian, Crescendo, Belgium

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Kudos to OUR Recordings for bringing this music to the listening public.
Perkustooth, New Music Buff
23. August 2016
I had reviewed another disc of this composer's music on this label here and I must admit that it took me quite a while to meaningfully grasp the music of this too little known Danish composer (1924-2012).  It should be no secret that the Danes have had and continue to have a rich musical culture and have produced quite a number of world class composers and this man is no exception.  However his style, apparently gleaned from his association with the modernists of Darmstadt, can be a tough nut to crack.
As with the aforementioned disc one might require multiple listenings before coming to realize that this man has a unique style and one that bears some serious attention.  This disc of piano music (and one piece for celesta) fills a gap in his recorded repertoire and is an excellent opportunity to see how he works in the genre of keyboard music.
These ten tracks contain works written from 1949 to 1988 so they cover a significant portion of his career and illustrate the development of his style.  Pianist Erik Kaltoft, a longtime associate of the composer, demonstrates interpretive skill as well as virtuosity and dedication in this fascinating survey.
The first (and longest 11:29) piece is Thalatta! Thalatta! (1987-88) and is given the opus number of 127.  The exclamation of the title translates as, "The Sea! The Sea!" and is said to have been spoken by the Greek armies upon reaching the Black Sea during one of their campaigns.  It is an impressionistic piece about the many moods of the sea.  His harmonies are like a modern update of Debussy, a bit more dissonant but providing a similarly soft focused feel.
Continuing with the maritime theme are the 6 miniatures called Marine Sketches (1949) opus 4b.  It is one of the earliest compositions in this collection (along with the Miniature Suite opus 3b, also 1949, on track 8).  Each of the pieces lasts around one minute and there are no track breaks to separate them.  The composer seems to expect that they will always be performed together and with a total time of 6:53, why not?  In contrast to the first piece these contain more melodic contours with less overall dissonance but clearly the same compositional fingerprint.
The four Winter Pieces opus 30b (1959) contain more energetic rhythms but with strategic silences punctuating the overall flow.  They end with a brief epilogue.
From winter we move to another season with the Summer Intermezzi opus 65 (1971) comes back to the sound world of the first track.  Here he experiments with different techniques to expand the language of the keyboard and incorporates the strategic silences of the piece on the former track.
Track 5 contains the earliest piece in this collection, Pasacaglia opus 2b (1948) which seems to suggest some influence of Scriabin.  It is a classic set of variations over the initial bass line and has a rather romantic feel.
Raindrop Interludes opus 144 (1994) is an impressionistic suite with the more dissonant style of his other later pieces.  It is the most recently composed of the recorded selections.
Epigrams opus 78 (1976) at 9:15, is the second longest piece here.  This is one of the most abstract pieces on the disc and demands concentration from both the performer and the listener to perceive delicate statements made with a wide dynamic range.
The Miniaturesuite opus 3b concentrates a praeludium, fantasia, interludium, sarabande and a repeat of praeludium in a brief 2:49.  It is more melodic and less dissonant in keeping with the composer's earlier style.
Praeludier opus 30a (1958-9) are seven pithy and brief preludes.
The last track contains Phantasiestùck opus 115 (1985) written for celesta.  This instrument, forever doomed to familiarity by its use  in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, has a limited repertoire and this gentle abstract piece is a welcome addition.  It is consistent with the composer's late style using dissonance and silences in an almost meditative and strangely nostalgic piece.
The extensive and useful liner notes are by Trine Boje Mortensen and are printed in both Danish and English (translation by John Irons).  The fine recording and mastering are by Preben Iwan in the fine acoustics of the Royal Danish Academy of Music.  Grateful assistance and input from the composer's daughter Elisabet Selin.
One needs to be cautioned never to take lightly anything produced from this creative country and this album is proof of that.  Kudos to OUR recordings for bringing this music to the listening public.
 
Perkustooth, New Music Buff

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Eine willkommene Erweiterung des Horizonts für Pianisten, die sich abseits traditioneller Pfade Anregungen holen wollen
Christopher Schlüren, Klassik Heute, Germany
13 August 2016
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) war einer der bedeutendsten dänischen „Modernisten“ im Schatten der jüngeren Kollegen Per Nørgård, Ib Nørholm und Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Über die Landesgrenzen ist er kaum bekannt geworden, doch seit seinem Tode beschäftigt sich das Label OUR Recordings intensiv mit seiner Musik im Rahmen der „Edition Borup-Jørgensen“, deren jüngste Veröffentlichung eine repräsentative Auswahl seiner Klaviermusik umfasst. Es spielt Erik Kaltoft, der 45 Jahre lang mit dem Komponisten zusammenarbeitete. Borup-Jørgensen kannte ich bisher vor allem durch seine farbenreich-komplexe Tondichtung Marin für großes Orchester. Seinem ganzen Naturell nach ist er ein Impressionist, der sich in den fünfziger Jahren die dodekaphonischen Verfahrensweisen in der Nachfolge Anton Weberns aneignete und mit einer atmosphärischen Geschlossenheit zum Hören einlädt, die nicht auf zielstrebiger Entwicklung oder dramaturgischen Kontrasten aufgebaut ist. Vorliegende Kompilation gibt einen guten Überblick über seine teils deutlich unterschiedlichen Schaffensphasen. Drei frühen Stücken von 1948-49 folgen zwei experimentell fragmentierende Werke von 1958-59. Die Musik der siebziger Jahre (Sommer intermezzi von 1971 und Epigrammer von 1976) zeigt eine offenkundige Abklärung des Stils, 1985-88 (Phantasiestück für Celesta und das titelgebende Thalatta! Thalatta!) eine zunehmend minimalistische Reduktion, die wechselnde Muster über längere Zeiträume beibehält, und das Regentropfen-Interludium von 1994 bildet den beinahe schon verklärten Abschluss – wobei die CD gar nicht chronologisch, sondern in dieser Hinsicht bunt durcheinander angeordnet ist, was für sinnvolle Kontraste sorgt. Man merkt sofort, dass Borup-Jørgensen ein guter Pianist war, seine Musik ist ganz natürlich für das Instrument geschrieben und weiß, die Register farblich ideal zu nutzen und zu kombinieren. Natürlich ist diese Musik – bis auf die Frühwerke, unter welchen das erste (eine kleine Passacaglia) in seiner so ganz unprätentiösen Schlichtheit bemerkenswert ist, nicht geeignet für Hörer, die Expressivität und Drama suchen. Es handelt sich vielmehr um permutativ fließende Klangskulpturen, und Erik Kaltoft ist mit diesen Stücken so tief vertraut und auch pianistisch so souverän, dass man durchaus von einer authentisch autoritativen Aufnahme, von einer berechtigten Referenz sprechen darf. Auch Flügelabstimmung, Raumakustik und klangtechnische Abbildung sind vorzüglich, und der Booklettext von Trine Boje Mortensen informiert grundlegend und essenziell. Eine willkommene Erweiterung des Horizonts für Pianisten, die sich abseits traditioneller Pfade Anregungen holen wollen. 
Künstlerische Qualität: 9
Klangqualität: 10
Gesamteindruck: 9
Christopher Schlüren, Klassik Heute, Germany

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
It has been an absolute pleasure exploring this music.
Marc Medwin, Fanfare US
31 July 2016
The present disc constitutes my introduction to this underappreciated Danish composer. Doubtless, it will introduce many others to his often introspective but miles-deep piano music, as only a few of the pieces have been recorded before and given the excellence of the performances and documentation.
The pieces span the forty-five years from 1949-1994, detailing the composer’s development in light of more general developments in music history. Erik Kaltoft, who knew and worked with the composer, mentions Webern as a formative influence in the 1950s, and indeed, there is some Webern in the rapidity with which textures and speed change in a piece such as “Thalatta! Thalatta!” from 1987-88, not to mention in the music’s brevity. Yet, the structures themselves are not Webernian at all. Rather, I hear some Messiaenic clusters and arpeggiations replacing Second Viennese School counterpoint. What, then, would explain those gorgeous and basically repeated gestures in the second half of the work, almost minimalist in structure if not in intent? They morph, but only gradually, as hypnotic as they are diverse. Kaltoft’s colorful pianism is perfectly judged and executed as the wave-like arpeggios fragment, slow down and ultimately disintegrate into their component parts, so similar to those that commenced the work.
Considerably more Webernian, at least in terms of articulation and sudden dynamic shift if not in density or harmony, are the “Winter Pieces,” composed a decade later. It is as if, like Jørgensen’s use of baroque forms earlier in his career, he is bending music history to his will, not with anything approaching dictatorial malevolence but with reverence and homage in the service of his own language. The final pieces he composed for piano, his 1994 “Raindrop Interludes,” address this duality. Sounding very much like “Thalatta! Thalatta!” in terms of opening pitch material and execution, there is certainly reference made to both Chopin and Scriabin in the interplay of title and pitch intervals. Those attacks of varying length from the late 1950s are still present, but shades of sound and silence have become more subtly nuanced, repetition and transformation balanced in both regular and irregular concision.
It has been an absolute pleasure exploring this music, whose overriding aesthetic, beyond its exploratory rigor, is one of all-encompassing beauty and ultimate serenity. The many opus numbers (the last is op. 144) speak to a long and productive career.  Our Recordings is poised to release more Borup-Jørgensen this year, a very tantalizing prospect given the superb quality of all aspects of this disc. 
Marc Medwin, Fanfare US

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Warmly recommended to fans of contemporary keyboard music.
David DeBoor Canfield
July 15 2016
I first became familiar with the music of Axel Borup-Jørgensen back in the LP era, when I came across some Danish recordings containing such works as his Winterpieces, Nordic Summer Pastoral, and Music for Percussion and Viola. Nevertheless, this long-lived (1924-2012) composer was not particularly well-represented on LP, and so I’m glad to see some continuing attention paid to his music in the CD era. Since he composed a good 250 works, the CD companies will have a fair amount of work ahead of them to get any significant portion of his output into the hands of collectors. This disc, containing 10 of his works for keyboard (nine for piano and one for celesta) is certainly a good start. Interestingly, Borup-Jørgensen was one of the first Danish composers to attend the Darmstadt School, but never composed any serial music. Pianist Erik Kaltoft has had a 45-year history with the composer, and so his present performances may said to have the stamp of authority. Apparently, he has performed at least some of them in the presence of their author.
            “Thalatta! Thalatta!” opens the recital, and begins with a series of upward arpeggios. These are, mind you, not your major triad broken chords, but a subtly shifting sequence of exotic sonorities. It’s not Minimalism, especially with the interjections after a minute or so of new, block-chordal material and other types of figuration. Cluster-like chords also permeate this piece in a number of places Its title comes from an exclamation purportedly uttered by ancient Greek sailors when they reached the Black Sea. I don’t hear rolling waves, but perhaps some glint of sunlight reflecting from them. Marine Sketches follows, suggesting that its composer was drawn to the subject of the sea. I’m not too surprised, given that Denmark is surrounded by water on three sides, and is even divided by a large channel. Written 40 years before “Thalatta!”, the harmonic style of the piece is more tonally focused, and even seems to be centered on the tonality of G. Each of the six sketches is a small character piece, and these may or may not (the notes are coy on the point) reflect a particular aspect of the sea. Incidentally, Borup-Jørgensen’s major orchestral work is the sea-inspired Marin, Marin.
            winter pieces hails from 1959, ten years after the Sketches, and consists of four brief movements and an epilog. In this work, silence plays an especially important role. I guess there must a lot of stillness in Danish winter scenes. In between the silences are seemingly random clusters of notes (or are the silences in between the clusters?), but shortly into the piece, the listener realizes that these “random” sequences are actually nothing of the sort, but form a tapestry, where some of the pictorial representation on it is obscured. One can almost see the icicles hanging from the trees in this frigid work. sommer intermezzi deals with a warmer scene, and shows some similarities in its structure, including the upward arpeggiated figuration, to “Thalatta!” The program notes refer to there being enchantment in the air in this work, and that seems as good a description to me as any.
            The Passacaglia, dating from 1948, is the earliest work in this recital—the composer was but 24 years of age when he wrote this Baroque-inspired work. Typical in works in this genre, a sequence of notes is iterated and then forms the basis for a series of variations. The harmonies are exquisite, and the work builds up to an impressive climax. raindrop interludes (Borup-Jørgensen seems to like titles in lower case) is a rather pointillistic work, perfectly suited to the portrayal of raindrops, although I must say these drops seem rather large in size. The notes state that Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude hovers in the background, but I didn’t hear any resemblance to that work, or anything else by Chopin. Nevertheless, the composer has written an evocative nature piece here.
            epigrammer (epigrams) is similar in its effect to the preceding work, with its alternation of silence and sound, and once again the upward arpeggios make their appearance. The work is quite austere and foreboding, and sounds as though there ought to be a program attached. Miniaturesuite is another early work, contemporaneous with Marine Sketches. Accordingly, its style is quite a bit more tonal than all of the works in this recital that date from the 1950s or later (doubtless occasioned by his studies at Darmstadt). The Suite makes its statement in terse fashion in five brief movements lasting altogether less than three minutes. Borup-Jørgensen’s Preludes for Piano are opus-mates of his winter pieces, and consequently date from 1958-9. These seven preludes vary a good bit in their forms of expression, but all evince clarity of texture, and make an impression through their extreme range of dynamics. These sound difficult to play, and probably are, but Kaltoft whips them off seemingly effortlessly.
            The recital closes with Phantasiestück for celesta, and the very nature of the instrument immediately transports the listener to another musical realm. Once again, one hear’s Borup-Jørgensen’s trademark upward arpeggios and dripping sounds, but heard on the celesta they assume an entirely different character.
            The piano artistry of Erik Kaltoft must be applauded. These works need a first-rate pianist to bring across, and he does, superbly. His touch and timing is perfectly tuned to the temperament of the music, and I doubt that anyone else will make a better case for this music. The recorded piano sound is forward and very lifelike. Warmly recommended to fans of contemporary keyboard music. 
David DeBoor Canfield

Erik Kaltoft, Piano and Celesta
Piano Music
by Axel Borup-Jørgensen
. Recommended, even to—no, especially to—those who already have the earlier release.
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare US:
1 July 2016
An image I often find helpful when listening to a Axel Borup-Jørgensen piece is of a picture which, when approached, is revealed to be made up of a multitude of smaller pictures, each as exquisitely wrought as the larger image. Given pianist Erik Kaltoft’s description of the minute details of touch and subtle dynamic differentiation, all meticulously notated in scores he describes as “calligraphed,” I suspect it is not a bad generalization. It seems particularly useful when approaching this composer’s piano music. These works, written at various points throughout his long composing career, may vary according to the focus of his work at the time, but all are distinguished by a Ravelian obsession with detail and craftsmanship.
Unlike Ravel, his perfectionism did not result in a particularly small output, except among works for solo piano, of which, we are told, these represent the major portion. There were, Kaltoft observes, many more which were never finished. With these few, though, and the unique Phantasiestücke for celesta, we can trace the development of his compositional voice from the late-Romantic and Impressionistic chromaticism of the music of his 20s, to his Webern-inspired Expressionist experiments of the 1950s, prior to his trips to Darmstadt in 1959 and 1962, to the new simplicity-inspired, atonal, but never serial works of the 1970s, to the more consciously expressive works of his later maturity. Along the way, Borup-Jørgensen was influenced by avant-garde literature as much as avant-garde music. In particular, it was the austere Swedish poetry of Gunnar Björling as much as any meeting or sojourn to Germany that decided the direction his music took in the 50s and 60s. And like Danish composer Vagn Holmboe, he was deeply affected by nature, endeavoring to compose music that exists and develops as nature does. Hence he has the sea shimmering or swelling in works like Marine Sketches and Thalatta! Thalatta! quite aside from any feelings they evoke. And winter and summer are made sound experiences in Winter Pieces and Summer Intermezzi rather than being recreations of the composer’s reaction to them.
Sheer virtuosity is less important to performing this music—although not wholly unnecessary—than poetic restraint, and Kaltoft’s cool dispassion is an important quality of these performances. Yet, even in the most severe passages, he is unfailingly lovely of tone. Another Danish pianist, Erik Skjoldan, recorded five of these pieces for the Point label back in 1995, when that recording, and a Dacapo release of organ works, was about all that was available in the U.S. to represent the Danish composer’s work. First impressions often stick, and I am quite fond of his much freer, almost improvisatory, way with the five works he performs. He almost invariably takes greater time—sometimes for slower tempos, but as often to add meaningful pauses—and he offers a greater dynamic range. I have no idea if the composer had a preference for this or for the more literal and subdued approach of Kaltoft. Skjoldan was chosen to perform with Borup-Jørgensen at a concert celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday. Kaltoft writes in his notes of the many opportunities he had for close study with the composer.
No matter: the best art invites many approaches, and I am pleased to now be able to experience two visions of these pieces. Not only does this new release offer five works not currently in the discography of this important composer, it does so in OUR Recordings superb DXD recording, which creates an image of a piano in a supportive space as well as I have ever experienced. There are superb, informative notes in a lovely booklet. Recommended, even to—no, especially to—those who already have the earlier release
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare US:

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Music of the very highest compositional quality.
Chris Orton, Recorder Magazine, UK
June 7, 2016
It has been interesting to see that much has been written recently about a perceived lack of concerto repertoire for, specifically, recorder(s) and symphony orchestra. A cursory glance at the recording output of, say, Dan Laurin, John Turner, Jeremias Schwarzer and in particular Michala Petri, suggests that there is a substantial body of works ready to challenge talented youngsters and seasoned professionals alike. Michala Petri has been working through recording a series of concerto CDs, and this CD of German and French recorder concerti is a remarkable example of both her consummate technical and musical mastery of the recorder, but also of the artistry of the composers, their original musical ideas and brilliant scoring of said ideas.
The CD opens with ‘Recordare’, a new concerto by Markus Zahnhausen. From the arresting and imposing opening, one’s attention is immediately captured by the sparse but tense musical material. Zahnhausen uses percussion and winds with a clarity of scoring and orchestration that may remind one of the 14th and 15th symphonies of Shostakovich, or the restrained textures of late Benjamin Britten, however the similarity is fleeting – Zahnhausen very much has his own voice, and this concerto in my mind breaks new ground stylistically for the combination of recorders and orchestra. There is a depth of musical thought and intention which requires considerable concentration on
the part of the listener and indeed, the performers. In a live concert performance, this work could have an even more profound impact upon the listener.
‘Your Voice Out of the Lamb’ creates a stark but excellent contrast. This work uses some delay on the solo part, which is highly effective and is an example of electronics enhancing the musical discourse, rather than simply being an ‘effect’. Two shorter outer movements frame two longer movements which are the ‘heart’ of the work, to my ears. Again, some wonderful colours are created with combined recorder, reverb/delay, vibraphone, harp, solo violin and chamber strings in the third movement, ‘slow’. A virtuosic finale closes the concerto, again using what sounds like an electric piano and a ring modulator on the recorder part, all towards a very rhythmic and exciting musical result.
The final work on the disc is that of Günther Kochan. A composer from the former East Germany, he was highly considered within the Eastern Bloc, however, for so many East German artists, Reunification presented challenges and problems for sustaining careers. Nevertheless, here we have a work for recorder, chamber strings and percussion, that, like the Zahnhausen and Bollon concerti, provides a deeply musical vehicle for the opposition of recorder and orchestra. At once both virtuosic and profound music, it closes the CD with a brilliance of colour and texture.
Congratulations must be paid to the conductor and orchestra who accompany and lead with wonderful sensitivity and awareness. The recorder playing of Michala Petri is technically flawless and even more importantly, bursting with colour, variety and energy in a way that has certainly inspired me. This disc is exciting for so many reasons, however the principal point for me is that we have three first rate musical concerti for recorder, performed by a virtuosa who digs deep into the rich musical ideas presented.
Questions of comparison with other instruments are now irrelevant, and this disc proves beyond any doubt that there are concerti that exist for recorder that truly display the potential of the instrument, but most importantly, with music of the very highest compositional quality.
Chris Orton, Recorder Magazine, UK

Michala Petri, recorder
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble
The Nightingale
The Latvian composer weaves Michala Petri`s tweeting recorders around his singers and an ever-present, uncannily natural evocation of the nightingale itself.
Gramophone , June issue 2016
June 6, 2016
 
This vision by Ugis Praulins (b1957) of Andersen`s story about a Chinese Emperor who prefers a blinged-up mechanical nightingale to a real bird capable of genuine songs (another prescient tale) is brimming with imagination and harmonic wonderment. The Latvian composer weaves Michala Petri`s tweeting recorders around his singers as an ever-present, uncannily natural evocation of the nightingale itself. 
Gramophone , June issue 2016

Michala Petri, recorder
Odense Symphony Orchestra
German & French Recorder Concertos
Nicht zuletzt wegen der Veröffentlichung dieses hervorragenden Werkes sei die CD allen an zeit-genössischer Musik Interessierten wärmstens empfohlen.
Markus Bartholomé, Tibia June 2016
May 30, 2016
Hinter dem etwas unscheinbaren Titel des Programmes verbergen sich große Kaliber: drei neue Werke für Blockflöte und Orchester - zwei Auftragswerke von Fabrice Bollon und Markus Zahnhausen, beide 1965 geboren, und die Ersteinspielung eines Werkes aus dem Jahr 2000 von Günter Kochan (1930 - 2009).

Michala Petri ist als Spielerin und Initiatorin neuer Musik mit dieser CD ein wirklich großer Wurf gelungen: ihre Virtuosität in den Dienst der neu entstandenen Musik stellend gelingt es ihr auch hier scheinbar mühelos, den typischen "Petri-Sound" in seiner unverkennbaren Klarheit zu erzeugen und gleichzeitig mit großer Wandlungsfähigkeit den jeweiligen klanglichen und musikalischen Anforderungen der unterschiedlichen Werke gerecht zu werden.
"Menschenfreundliche Musik" zu schreiben sei sein Ziel, so wird Kochan im Booklet der vorliegenden CD zitiert - und diesen Ansatz scheinen auch die beiden anderen Komponisten der drei neuen Blockflötenkonzerte zu verfolgen. Ihre künstlerischen Ansatzpunkte und musikalischen Register sind zwar grundverschieden, jedoch nehmen sie jeweils in ihrer ganz persönlichen Art sich und ihre Hörer als Partner ernst - ohne Überheblichkeit, ohne Anbiederung.

Markus Zahnhausens Recordare entwickelt aus der Kombination von Blockflöte(n) und großem Orchester eine farbig schillernde Palette klanglicher Schattierungen, den Klang der Blockflöte durch die fein gearbeitete Instrumentierung von ganz verschiedenen Seiten beleuchtend. Er verwehrt sich den Griff in die Zauberkiste der spieltechnischen Kunstfertigkeit, wie man es bei einem Solokonzert erwarten könnte, und bietet stattdessen ein ganz eigenständiges und in seiner emotionalen Kraft überaus eindrückliches Werk - Virtuosität nicht an der Oberfläche sondern im Inneren des musikalischen Erzählens. Angelegt als Tombeau für den im Krieg gefallenen, unbekannten Großvater weitet sich das Werk aus dem rhapsodisch klagenden Beginn der Soloblockflöte zu einem wilden Höhepunkt. Ein besonders anrührender Moment entsteht am Schluss: die Musik ist zu einer kargen Klanglandschaft gefroren, über der einsam die Töne der Sopraninoflöte schweben. Die Blockflöte steht in dieser musikalischen Erzählung nicht als virtuoser Held an der Bühnenrampe, vielmehr wird ihr natürlicher Klang zum Zentrum des orchestralen Geschehens: sinfonische Dramatik, wie man sie in einem "Blockflötenkonzert" zunächst nicht erwartet, die aber mit ihrer geradezu zwingenden Energie den Hörer gefangen nimmt.

Einen ganz anderen Weg schlägt der auch als Dirigent erfolgreich tätige Franzose Fabrice Bollon ein. Schon im Titel wird klar, dass sich der Komponist ein Sujet wählte, das man für ein Blockflötenkonzert wohl so nicht erwartet hat. "Your voice out of the Lamb" ist eine Hommage an die Progressive-Rocker von Genesis. Klingt diese Verbindung zunächst etwas abstrus, so kann das Ergebnis durchaus überzeugen. Der Grundidee folgend werden die Blockflöten elektronisch verstärkt und bearbeitet und das Orchester mit Keyboard und Drumset erweitert. Doch nicht nur klanglich gelingt Bollon, der sein Komponieren mit der Kunst eines Koches vergleicht, ein ansprechendes Gericht: geheimnisvoll pulsierende langsame Teile wechseln mit virtuosen Passagen, die in ihrer treibenden Mechanik sowohl an die Soli aus den Vivaldikonzerten als auch an Improvisationen eines Jazz- oder Rockmusikers erinnern.

Nicht nur wegen der beiden Auftragskompositionen lohnt es sich, diese CD in Ohrenschein zu nehmen: Mit der Ersteinspielung von Günter Kochans "Musik für Altblockflöte, 25 Streichinstrumente und Schlagwerk" bewahrt Michala Petri zusammen mit dem Dirigenten Christoph Poppen und dem engagiert zupackenden Odense Symphony Orchestra ein wahres Meisterwerk vor einem unverdienten Dornröschenschlaf in der berüchtigten Schublade. Wegen seiner aufwändigen Besetzung und gerade auch durch seine komplexe Faktur sowie die durchweg hohen Anforderungen an die musikalischen und spieltechnischen Fähigkeiten aller Beteiligten ist eine Aufführung des Stückes keine leichte Aufgabe. Doch Inspiration und Können der beteiligten Musiker vermögen durchweg zu zeigen, welches musikalische Kleinod hier für das Blockflötenrepertoire gehoben werden konnte. "Musik" steckt voller rhythmischer und satztechnischer Finesse: im dritten Satz etwa die in ihrer Einfachheit und Klarheit schmerzlich berührende Melodielinie der Flöte, im vierten Satz ein Fugato, das an die polyphone Instrumentationskunst Weberns erinnert, oder im sechsten Satz ein wilder, virtuoser Parforceritt im Fünfertakt ... Die Aufnahme beweist, zu welch müheloser Meisterschaft Kochan fähig war und ist ein überzeugendes Plädoyer für das Spätwerk dieses leider zu schnell in Vergessenheit geratenen großen Komponisten. Nicht zuletzt wegen der Veröffentlichung dieses hervorragenden Werkes sei die CD allen an zeitgenössischer Musik Interessierten wärmstens empfohlen.
Markus Bartholomé, Tibia June 2016
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