Borup – Jørgensens fantasi om havet er et hovedværk i dansk musik
Valdemar Lønsted, Newspaper Information, Denmark
09 January 2019
Information (DK)
Borup – Jørgensens fantasi om havet er et hovedværk i dansk musik
Axel Borup-Jørgensen kunne have sagt med Mahlers ord: Min tid vil komme. For det er sket inden for de sidste år, og samme profeti kunne også gælde den engang så foragtede Rued Langgaard. To markante udgivelser beviser til fulde, hvor store komponister de var.
Marin er titlen på en dobbeltudgivelse, der rummer en dvd og en cd med værker af Axel Borup-Jørgensen, og tilmed får man et smukt filmportræt af ham. Dens helt særlige attraktion er dvd´ens animerede undervandsfantasi som et visuelt parallelspor til orkesterfantasien Marin, som man kunne kalde et modstykke til Claude Debussys tre skitser til havet, La Mer. Animationen af en verden på havets bund er et eventyrligt visuelt kunststykke, som så at siger suger lytteren ind i Marin og faktisk hjælper til at følge med den uhyre komplekse strøm af klange og rytmer.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) var for så vidt en sjælden fugl i det danske komponistreservat, en del år ældre end triumviratet Nørholm, Nørgård og Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Han voksede op i Sverige i tæt kontakt med svensk natur og kultur, han begyndte at studerer på konservatoriet i København i 1946, gik stille med dørene og blev først for alvor opdaget af offentligheden, da han vandt DR´s komponistkonkurrence i1960. Førsteprisen førte til en bestilling af et nyt stort værk til radiosymfonikerne med sig, det blev Marin, som fik sin uropførelse i 1970 underledelse af Herbert Blomstedt. Gudmundsen-Holmgreen kaldte det siden for et enestående mesterværk i den danske orkesterlitteratur.
Stilhed og usynlige strømme
Borup-Jørgensen fik altså sit livs chance for at komponerer for det fuldt udbyggede symfoniorkester, og han lod den ikke passere. Det var bevidst, at han valgte et program til musikken, for han ønskede at komme i kontakt med publikum, og med et digt om havet-sådan kan man godt forestille sig, han tænkte om sin plan-skabte han sig et stort og udfordrende spillerum.
Han skitserede en udvikling ikke helt ulig Debussy: opvågnen før daggry, høj sø, glitren i sollyset, havblik, brænding, storm. Og for Borup-Jørgensen var det vigtigt, at ingen rytmiske mønstre eller klangkombinationer så vidt muligt skulle gentage sig, sådan som havets rytmer og farver heller ikke gør det. Intet måtte træde for tydeligt frem, der skulle være en helhed af klang, ingen egentlige temaer, men et perpetuum mobile uden begyndelse og slutning, hvor så at sige hvert instrument både spiller selvstændigt og lader sig opsluge af lyden fra de andre.
Det er så påfaldende, at animationen af Marin foregår på havets bund, hvor stilhed og usynlige strømme hersker i en verden af lyse pastelagtige farver. Det kunne ligne havfolkets habitat som hos H. C. Andersen, der er bjerglandskaber, og en by med sælsomme huse, forladte rum og korridorer, og alt går antydningsvist for sig med væsener, der bevæger sig elegant og målbevidst gennem elementet.
Med Borup-Jørgensens suggestivt omsluttende musik aner man åbenbaringen af et foruroligende mysterium, med de levende billeder fastholdes koncentrationen om musikkens nu. Det er en forunderlig dobbelthed.
Thomas Søndergård og radiosymfonikerne folder det ødsle partitur ud med en imponerende indforståethed, men måske skal den største ros gå til produceren Preben Iwan, som har indfanget de mange instrumentalstemmer i en mesterlig detaljeringsgrad. Bliv derefter klogere på den store komponist i filmportrættet, hvor han selv kommer til orde og bliver beskrevet af det før omtalte komponisttriumvirat, datteren Elisabet Selin, Michala Petri og mange andre. I 2018 modtog Marin-udgivelsen den tyske Grammy for bedste musikproduktion på dvd/blue-ray, og den er nomineret til en af DR´s P2- priser i 2019. 
Valdemar Lønsted, Newspaper Information, Denmark

It is something of a milestone among Scandinavian New Music offerings in recent years.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review (USA)
30 April 2018
I have gone into the music of Danish composer Axel Borup-Jorgensen (1924-2012) at some length on these pages. (See articles from February 23, 2017, February 3, 2014 and September 7, 2016.) However I have not previously discussed his orchestral works. This morning I get the opportunity for that with a deluxe DVD-SACD set of Marin (Our Recordings 2.110426). The DVD contains two films that utilize Borup-Jorgensen's music, "Marin, An Animated Fantasy," and "Axel, A Portrait Film." The SACD contains the full nearly 20-minute performance of the orchestra work "Marin" plus a number of chamber works from the film of the same name.
I have no way of commenting on the DVD because every one of my players or disk drives has failed in the last several years.
On the SACD I have happily spent a good deal of time. Its nearly 80 minute length allows a good number of relevant compositions from the film(s) to be explored. The orchestral opus "Marin" gets a fully fleshed, vibrantly sonic reading from Thomas Sondergard conducting the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Written at various stages between 1963-1970, it has a High Modernist soundscaped sonority and a good deal of dimensional depth. I would not hesitate to number this as among Borup-Jorgensen's most profound and effective works.
Another essential on the disc is his "Coast of Sirens, Op. 100" (1983-85) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, guitar, piano, percussion and multivoice tape. The female voices ethereally evoke the seductive clarion call while the chamber ensemble wraps itself in and around the vocals with luminous elements of very modern atmospheric articulations.
The two works form a crucial set of bookends for five more sparsely configured works. There are two pieces for solo recorders, very characteristic of Borup-Jorgensen's angular contemporary treatment of the instrument. The 1955-56 "Music for Percussion + Viola" has a heightened sonic sense, a rhythmic drive and a pronounced trajectory more-or-less characteristic of the best New Music of that period. The Percurama Percussion Ensemble and Tim Frederiksen on viola contrast and commune together in ways that make for worthy listening. The 1989 "Fur Cembalo und Orgel" dramatically explores sound colors and wave-like swells while one of the 1959 "Winter Pieces" for piano gives us a gentle and chilly weathered rumination.

In all the SACD provides the modernist aficionado with the most freewheeling and variously instrumented introduction of Borup-Jorgensen's music I have yet to hear. No doubt the DVD film sequence adds to our appreciation as well. For that I do recommend you check out this offering. It is something of a milestone among Scandinavian New Music offerings in recent years. Grego Applegate Edwards, April 30 2018
Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review (USA)

Danish composer Borup-Jørgensen was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear”
Graham Rickson, theartsdisk.com
24 March 2018
“Danish composer Borup-Jørgensen was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear”
Axel Borup-Jørgensen: Marin Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Sôndergård (OUR Recordings)
The physical effort involved in composing Marin was a huge strain on the Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012). This ear-stretching musical seascape was made possible by its creator winning a prize in the mid-1960s, the reward including a commission for a large orchestral piece to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in 1970. Borup-Jørgensen delivered, in spades: a shaggy monsterpiece with the orchestral strings divided into 55 parts, using something referred to, mysteriously, as "optical notation". Making a fair copy took the composer over 1000 hours, the process entertainingly described by his daughter in the booklet. A young Herbert Blomstedt conducted the premiere, following a score with pages so enormous that an ingenious means of turning them soundlessly had to be devised. You couldn't make it up. Still, this handsomely recorded new performance of Marin with the same orchestra under Thomas Søndergård is a triumph. It sounds like nothing else you'll have heard, 19 minutes of deep rumblings, dissonant note clusters and pregnant silences. Importantly, it does really suggest a vast, swelling ocean. We’re not a million miles away from the stormier bits of Debussy’s La Mer or Sibelius's Oceanides. The recording comes with an accompanying DVD including Morten Bartholdy’s CGI animated realisation of Marin, an entertainingly crazed vision of an undersea world, its denizens based on the composer's own drawings. I listened to the work before watching the film and was anticipating something darker and murkier: the crystalline brightness of the artwork came as a surprise. Still good to have though, as is the bonus documentary about Borup-Jørgensen. Which suggests that he was a genuine talent, a likeable maverick with an acute ear, able to analyse a work by Webern using graphics rather than words. It's touching to see him recalled so fondly by fellow musicians.
Marin’s vastness seems to have been a blip, Borup-Jørgensen generally preferring to write on a smaller scale. The couplings are fascinating: 1989’s Für Cembalo und Orgel (with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani) is bewilderingly brilliant, as are two pieces for solo recorder. The second of them, Pergolato, was the composer’s last work, an elegant, melodic farewell. The disc closes with Coast of Sirens, soprano Bodil Gümes’ multitracked vocals heard against a shimmering chamber backdrop. The whole package is handsomely designed and well-annotated: a treat, in other words. What's stopping you?
Graham Rickson, theartsdisk.com

A challenging issue, for sure; a major addition to the catalog of music by this composer
Robert Benson, Classical CD Review.com
18 Januaray 2018

Danish-born composer Axel Borup-Jorgensen (1924-2012) was a prolific composer on the Nordic musical scene. He was respected during his time, and recognized as a leader in the world of new music. He wrote for orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, and his scores are complex. He had his own sound world, and he had a passionate almost mystical regard for nature. Much of his music is subdued, almost silent. The SACD in this set contains Marin, Op.60, a 19 minute work considered to be his masterpiece. This is played by the Danish National Symphony directed by Thomas Sondegard. Then we hear the 13=minute Music for Percussion and Viola (Tim Fredenksen/Percurama Percussion Ensemble), Für Cembalo and Organ, Op. 133 (Mahan Esfahani/ Jens,. E. Christiansen), Nachtstück, Op. 118. (Elisabet Selin, recorder), Winter Pieces, Op. 30b (Erik K Kaltoft, piano), Pergolato, Op. 183 *(Michala Petri, recorder), and Coast of Sirens, Op. 100 for flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, cello, piano, percussion and "multi voice tape."with the Arhus Sinfonietta conducted by Soren Kinch Hansen. I imagine most listeners (including myself) will find little of interest in this music. The DVD features a fantasy animation of Marin created by Lückow Film and an international team of animators directed by Morten Bartholdy.The film represents symbols of the forces in the human subconscious, without a narrative, to be interpreted by the viewer. AXEL is a documentary about the composer's life and music and includes interviews and performances by some of the artists heard on the CD. A challenging issue, for sure; a major addition to the catalog of music by this composer.'

Robert Benson, Classical CD Review.com

hinaus viel Hörenwertes dieses hochinteressanten Komponisten zu entdecken gibt
Juan Martin Kock, Neue Musikzeitung, Seite 17
04 February 2018
Neue Musikzeitung (Germany)
Borup-Jørgensen: Marin, OUR Recordings (DVD und SACD)
Nach dem orchestralen Hauptwerk von Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012) benannt, enthält diese mit ausführlichem Booklet schön ausgestattete Box zweierlei: Eine SACD mit einer repräsentativen Werkauswahl sowie eine DVD mit einem animierten Musikfilm zu “Marin” und einem vierzigminutigen Portrait des dänischen Komponisten. Letzteres ist einigermassen information, aber leider is Borup-Jørgensen nicht im Bewegtbild zu zehen. Der Musikfilm zu ”Marin” begeht glüchlicherweise nicht den Fehler, den Werktitel allzu ernst zu nehmen, denn dieses ”Seestück” ist keine naturalistische Meeresbetrachtung, sondern eine hochdifferenzierte Orchesterklangsstudie. Stattdessem finden wir uns in einer bizarren, von schwebenden Pappmaaché-menschen bevölkerten Vulkanlandschaft wieder, zu von Zeichnungen des komponisten inspiriert ist. Das wirkt nicht unbedingt zwingend, ist aber durchaus suggestiv. Wer das faszinierende Werk nur hören will, kann zu dem Danish National Symphony Orchestra unter Thomas Søndergård brilliant gespielen und in überragender Klangtechnik aufgenommen SACD greifen, auf der es darüber hinaus viel Hörenwertes dieses hochinteressanten Komponisten zu entdecken gibt. 
Juan Martin Kock, Neue Musikzeitung, Seite 17

I’m sure Axel would be pleased to be placed as he is now among the masters of Danish composers.
Perkustooth, Newmusicbuff.wordpress.com
29 January 2018
I have made no secret of my passion for the music which has been coming out of the Scandinavian portion of our planet.  My knowledge of these musical traditions is mostly limited to the twentieth century up to the present but what a horn of plenty there is to be had.  There are so many composers that it is forgivable if one of them fails to get worldwide attention and acclaim during their lifetime.  Or is it?
Well if sins of omission that have been committed all can now be forgiven and the memory of Axel Borup-Jørgenson (1924-2012) is likely guaranteed to remain solidly in the history of music of the twentieth century.  The Danes take their music very seriously it seems (check out the You Tube Channel for the Danish National Symphony Orchestra if you don’t believe me) and producer Lars Hannibal and his crew have labored tirelessly to bring this formerly obscure master most deservingly to light in this DVD/CD combo pack featuring some of his finest works.
This truly major release contains a DVD with a gorgeous animated feature synced to the late composer’s swan song big orchestral piece, Marin op. 60 (1963-70) a really beautifully produced documentary (“Axel”) on the composer featuring some of his fellow composers including, Finn Savery, Pelle Gudmunsen-Holmgreen, Bent Sørensen, Sunleif Rasmussen, Per Nørgard, Gert Mortensen, Ib Nørholm, Michala Petri, and producer Lars Hannibal along with family and other musicians and producers.
The animated feature looks like one of the finer entries one might find on Vimeo.  The animation was done by Lùckow Film and works well with the music.  The biographical feature does a spectacular job of placing the composer in context with his Nordic contemporaries and with contemporary music in general.  The people interviewed give about as definitive a description of the man’s work as can be done in a film biography and the intervening or connecting scenes bespeak a high level concept of cinematography that makes this film both compelling and a delight for the eyes as well as the mind.  The concept of the composer’s use of silence as a compositional tool seems to be reflected in these transitional scenes.
The CD consists of seven carefully selected pieces on seven tracks.  The disc opens with the big orchestra piece which was heard behind the animation on the DVD, Marin Op. 60 (1963-70) followed by Music for Percussion and Viola Op. 18 (1955-56), For Cembalo and Orgel Op. 133 (1989), Nachtstuck Op. 181 (1987) (played here by the composer’s daughter, Elisabeth Selin), Winter Pieces Op. 30b (1959) for piano, Pergolato Op. 182 (2011) for treble recorder, and Coast of Sirens Op. 100 (1980-85) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, guitar, piano, percussion, and multivoice tape.  This is truly a balanced portrait with examples of orchestral, solo instrument, keyboard, chamber and electroacoustic works from 1959-2011, a more than fair sampling of the composer’s output both by genre and by time.
The music seems to move between post-romantic tonality and expressionistic experiments such as one hears in the music of Gyorgy Ligeti.  The music is evocative and very listenable especially if one avails one’s self of the introductory film.  It certainly seemed to tune this reviewer’s ears properly.  It is helped as well by some very fine recordings that capture the subtlety of the composer’s work.
Lars Hannibal is clearly the guiding hand in this project but his genius (he is a fine guitarist as well as a producer) is his ability to engage all these fine musicians, artists, producers, and family in what is one of the most loving portraits this writer has ever seen.  Now that is the way to blast someone out of obscurity forever.
And this is but one entry in a larger project to record the composer’s complete output.  Two previous releases were reviewed on this blog and, presumably there are more to come.  But in the meantime there is much to savor here and one hopes that this will introduce this music into the general repertoire.  I’m sure Axel would be pleased to be placed as he is now among the masters of Danish composers.
Perkustooth, Newmusicbuff.wordpress.com

Recording, notes and presentation are first rate.
Gerald Fenech, Gzira, Malta
17 January 2018
DVD Spotlight on www.dailyclassicalmusic.com
Hard to Chew
Music by Axel Borup-Jørgensen - heard by GERALD FENECH
'This is music that needs to be listened to several times before one can start to comprehend the composer's inner thoughts ...'
                             Marin - Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012). © 2017 OUR Recordings
Born on 22 November 1924, Axel Borup-Jørgensen is considered one of Denmark's most important twentieth century composers. Reared in Sweden since the age of two and a half, the young Axel inherited his father's passion for invention, and from early boyhood he was able to play several instruments. The complete shift towards classical music came in 1942 when his piano teacher introduced him to the slow movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Indeed, the composer admits that the sensation he felt was that of a religious conversion.
Borup-Jørgensen also nurtured a great love of nature, particularly the Swedish landscape, and this was a constant source of inspiration in his musical career. In 1946 he returned to Denmark, where, with the help of several teachers he was introduced to various forms of music, something that spurred him to abandon piano playing and make composition his main activity.
After his divorce in 1958 the composer was able to devote more time to writing music, and in 1959 and 1962 he visited Darmstadt, the centre of European modern music, to delve deeper into the atonal world that was expanding all the time. When he returned from his second visit he had found his own personal style which he kept developing up to the very end of his life. After nearly fifty years of successes and many accolades, Borup-Jørgensen died on 15 October 2012 aged eighty-eight.
This double-disc set (DVD and SACD) is a fine specimen of the composer's style and covers a wide spectrum of his musical ingenuity, particularly in the way he paired different instruments with today's electronic sounds. I must be frank and admit that I found this programme rather hard to chew, particularly the 1987 Nachtstück for tenor recorder and the 1959 Winter Pieces for piano. This is music that needs to be listened to several times before one can start to comprehend the composer's inner thoughts, so prospective buyers, post-modern aficionados included, should be prepared to practice patience before one starts to appreciate what this sound world has to offer.
Maybe starting with the DVD of Marin — An Animated Fantasy will help immeasurably towards one's acceptance of the significance of this composer.
Recording, notes and presentation are first rate.
Gerald Fenech, Gzira, Malta

10/10/10 Eine musikalische und interpretatorische Meisterleistung
Heintz Braun, Klassik Heute, Germany
02 January 2018
Marin ist eine luxuriöse, umfangreiche Hommage an Axel Borup-Jørgensen (1924-2012), einen der wichtigsten dänischen Komponisten des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts.Nach jahrelanger intensiver Vorarbeit hat das dänische Label Our Recordings einen repräsentativen Querschnitt durch das Schaffen des Komponisten veröffentlicht, darunter auch eine Neueinspielung von Marin, dem sensationellen orchestralen Hauptwerk Borup-Jørgensens. Our Recordings hat weder Kosten noch Mühen gescheut, eine Aufnahme im Superlativ vorzulegen, sowohl was die musikalische Umsetzung dieses hochkomplexen, fast zwanzigminütigen Werkes mit dem Dänischen Nationalen Symphonieorchester unter Thomas Søndergård als auch dessen aufnahmetechnisch schlichtweg phänomenale Realisierung durch Preben Iwan im hochauflösenden DXD-Format (352,8 kHz/32 bit) anbelangt. Selten zuvor hat man Musik in einer solchen brillanten Klarheit und Klangtiefe gehört.
Marin erklang zum ersten Mal im Jahr 1970 mit dem gleichen Orchester unter Leitung von Herbert Blomstedt. Der Titel des Werkes legt nahe, was die Inspiration des Komponisten gewesen ist: das Meer mit all seinen Farben und seiner unablässigen Bewegung, seiner Tiefe und dem auch im übertragenen Sinne Schäumen klanglicher Verästelungen. Wie Elisabet Selin, die Tochter des Komponisten, im Beiheft berichtet, gestaltete sich das schier physische Schreiben dieses Werkes in über 1000 Stunden als wahre Herkules-Aufgabe – in der feinsäuberlichen, fast kalligraphischen Handschrift des Komponisten auf riesigen Partiturseiten im Format von 130x30 cm!
Bis auf Coast of Sirenes op. 100, das vom ebenfalls dänischen Klassik-Label Dacapo übernommen wurde, sind alle Einspielungen der vorliegenden Zusammenstellung Originalaufnahmen von Our Recordings, die bereits zuvor auf verschiedenen Veröffentlichungen des Labels erschienen sind. Es fällt schwer, ein Werk aus dieser überaus vielfältigen und gelungenen Kompilation hervorzuheben. Musik und Interpretation bewegen sich auf allerhöchstem Niveau. Neben Marin beeindruckten mich am meisten die großartige, frühe Music for percussion and viola op. 18, das dunkel gefärbte, klanglich höchst diffizile Nachtstück op. 118 für Tenorblockflöte solo (hier in der phänomenalen Aufnahme mit der Widmungsträgerin Elisabet Selin sowie Pergolato op. 183, das tief empfundene letzte vollendete Werk des Komponisten in der Einspielung mit der dänischen Blockflötistin Michala Petri.
Als willkommenes „Bonus-Material“ wird die SACD durch eine DVD ergänzt, auf der Marin als Grundlage eines großartigen surrealistischen Animationsfilms dient, der von Lückow Film und einem internationalen Team von Mitarbeitern unter der Regie von Morten Bartholdy verwirklicht wurde. Besonders interessant das ebenso enthaltene, mit englischen Untertiteln versehene Filmportrait Axel, in dem zahlreiche Freunde, Kollegen, Weggefährten und natürlich auch die Tochter des Komponisten zu Worte kommen.
Nicht allein also aufgrund der Neueinspielung von Marin ist dieses Set zu empfehlen. Allen (auch zukünftigen) Freunden der Musik des großen Dänen sei diese audiovisuelle Hommage ans Herz gelegt. Eine musikalische und interpretatorische Meisterleistung!
Heintz Braun, Klassik Heute, Germany