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Discreet orchestral virtuosos

Bo Holten is in the CD news this month with two new releases of Danish orchestral music known only to the few, written by the composers Poul Rovsing Olsen (1922-82) and Erik Norby (1936-2007). We caught up with Holten for a short chat about the two new CD releases


Bo Holten, in the news as conductor with two CDs by almost unknown Danish composers from the 20th century - is there anything that links Rovsing Olsen and Norby?

"Yes, it has struck me that both composers were real virtuosos in their use of the symphony orchestra, and that they were incredibly good at translating their musical ideas into reality. Some composers shoot right and left in their striving for musical effects, but Erik Norby and Poul Rovsing Olsen were both very focused."


In what way?

"They simply had a feeling for the exquisite detail and knew exactly how to use a symphony orchestra. You can also see that neither of the two composers wrote such a lot - but what they did write is outstanding."


So what separates the two composers?

"Norby's music was written quite a bit later than Rovsing Olsen's - all the way up in the 1980s. He uses a large orchestra with a sweeping, Late Romantic sound and throws colours around with such fluidity and incredible elegance. Rovsing Olsen's music is from the 1950s and 1960s and is more rigorous and emphatic. And then he had this interest in Oriental culture and music, which he was able, in profoundly personal ways, to weave into his own music - especially in the work Au fond de la nuit."


Christina Bjørkøe is the soloist in Rovsing Olsen's piano concerto. What was it like working with her on this premiere recording?

"From the first day of recording I could sense that Christina Bjørkøe has a great love for Rovsing Olsen's music - and through that love a profound understanding of the music, which means that she is truly able to bring out the most sophisticated colourings in the piano part. Now, when I hear our recording, I actually have to say there's an emotional content in the music that is stronger than I realized myself - thanks not least to Christina's excellent playing."


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