POUL ROVSING OLSEN (1922-1982): A Dream in Violet for String Trio, Op. 85, The Planets for Mezzo-Soprano, Flute, Viola and Guitar, Op. 80*, Rencontres for Percussion and Cello, Op. 67*, Pour une Viole d’Amour for Viola d’amore, Op. 66*, Alapa-Tarana for Mezzo-Soprano and Percussion, Op. 41*. * - First Recordings.
Catalogue Number: 12U053
Description: Aside from his career as a composer, Rovsing Olsen worked as an ethnomusicologist, a field in which he taught, worked and was widely published throughout his professional life. His specialty was music of the Middle East and India, and this left its mark on his own music, but subtly, with no attempt at 'crossover' or 'fusion'. A free-floating, modal tonality and a distinctive sense of timbre characterise his style, which has more in common with Impressionism than the modernist trends prevalent in Europe during his lifetime. A Dream in Violet was the composer's last work, and he died before its first performance. Performed throughout con sordino, it is like a gentle, elegiac short story in varied sections played without a break, with repeated returns to a melody treated in a way that sounds improvisatory (though it is not). The Planets is based on Latin texts from a 15th century book, describing the personalities and characteristics of people born under various celestial bodies. In the Venus movement, the melody has a distinct Indian feel; elsewhere the spare, evocative miniatures are Impressionist, in modern harmonies, like a contemporary spin on Mediæval music. Rencontres is vigorous and dancelike; a fiery pas de deux for cello and percussion. Without sounding 'eastern', the power and predominance of the drums recalls their rôle as equal partners in music of India and the Far East, with a sense of ritual. Alapa – Tarana is structured like an Indian Rāg and variation, though the vocalise Rāg is of Rovsing Olsen's own invention, and the section with drums is only freely based on Indian performance techniques, conceptually rather than imitatively. The work for Viola d'amore, with its distinctive timbre, also begins with a long melismatic melodic introduction like a made-up Rāg, with a livelier, more chordal and western-sounding second section. Signe Asmussen (soprano), Ulla Miilmann (flute), Helge Slaatto (violin), Anette Slaatto (viola, viola d’amore), Jonathan Slaatto (cello), Frederik Munk Larsen (guitar), Christian Martinez (percussion).