The Percussion Universe of Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) will be a name unfamiliar to many, though this Danish composer left a substantial body of work and finds meaningful accommodation between mid-20th-century modernism and the aesthetic concerns of an earlier era. This disc of music for and featuring percussion touches on all the relevant bases – not least Solo (1979), where archetypal groupings of metal, skin and wood are drawn into a continuity so that differences in timbre are outweighed by similarities of texture. Much the earliest piece here, Music for Percussion and Viola (1956) yields a rhythmic uniformity its composer was later to eschew, yet the gradual coalescing of opposites in a climactic processional is no less arresting for it.
The duo percussion medium is represented by La primavera (1982), the longest and also slowest-burning work, which, despite its fastidious blending of instruments and the visceral exchanges towards its close, is likely as much visual as aural in appeal. Not so Periphrasis (1997), in which the interplay with recorder is made meaningful through the separating of un-tuned and tuned percussion that ensures an unbroken arc of expressive intensity through to the close. An outcome no less audible in Winter Music (1984), except the brass quintet adds Varèse-like plangency to music whose ominous import is pointedly not made explicit.
Recorded with startling clarity and informatively annotated, this release is another triumph for Gert Mortensen and the formidable roster of musicians with whom he has collaborated on this project – so resulting in a memorable listening experience.