AXEL BORUP-JØRGENSEN: Viola Works
12 January 2016
David's Review Corner
'In the works on this CD we hear the development that Borup-Jorgensen underwent’, the disc sleeve states, but then they are not played chronologically. So let me reshuffle and place them in time-perspective, starting in 1952 with the Duo for Violin and Viola, a highly attractive score in five movements belonging to the musical era of Bartok, its harmonies pungent and highly coloured. Technically challenging, it is not a showpiece score though the final Presto is fast and exhilarating. From much the same time, the Sonata for Viola and Piano is a work that should belong to the instrument’s staple repertoire, its arresting outer movements surrounding a soulful Adagio. We have now moved into atonality, the moto perpetuo finale turning the clock back to Bartok again. Go forward two years to 1954 for the completion of the Partita for Solo Viola, its six movements creating a score of some twenty minutes as it explores all of the conventional tonal qualities of the instrument, many passages of double-stopping thickening the texture and pizzicato to introduce a percussive element. He again explores the sadness of the instrument’s tonal resources, particularly so in the fifth movement Lento. In the short space of two years we find a massive shift to atonality in the Music for Percussion and Viola, the percussion department including a piano and six members of Ekkozone playing a large array of instruments. Here the viola is a solitary voice of lyric beauty against a backdrop of aggressive sounds. Further down the same road in 1961 with Mobiles after Alexander Calder for piano, viola and marimba, and in 1977 O Baume Lebens links a mezzo-soprano with the viola in a short work that could have come from Webern. I take the performances at face value, the Danish viola player, Anette Slaatto, a player of outstanding dexterity.