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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  CD

Catalogue Number:  8.226078

Barcode:  636943607824

Release month:  Feb 2017

Period:  Late 20th Century



28 February 2017  David's Review Corner
David Denton

Relatively unknown on the world stage, Poul Rovsing Olsen, was active in Denmark during the mid-part of the 20th century as a composer, critic, and university lecturer. Though his compositions covered a wide area, including operas and orchestral works, his total output numbered just 85 works, the present disc covering his output of songs. Strongly influenced by the two mentors in his years of maturity—Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen—there is here a mix of French and oriental sounds, though the overriding factor is his dependence on the traditions of tonality and melody. Grouped together the songs are largely miniatures, many not lasting much longer than a minute, and are mostly scored for mezzo-soprano and piano, the words coming from a wide range of poets and have a comprehensive view of life, with birds and flowers often the subject. There is an obvious inbuilt love of the human voice that Olsen never takes out of its comfort zone, and I am not sure whether I find the composer lacking in characterisation of the words, or whether he looked to the performers to do this for him. Certainly the vocal quality of the mezzo, Hetna Regitze Bruun, is always very beautiful with intonation that is in the centre of each note. That could be equally said of the bass, Steffen Bruun, who seems particularly intent on a smooth projection. Again I would have to say that for much of the time Olsen gives the pianist nothing much more than a backdrop, but that is attentively looked after by Kristoffer Hylding, who displays nimble fingers when called upon. Ideal balance between voice and keyboard, with the principal flute of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Ulla Miilmann, making an limpid appearance in the four Evening Songs.

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