Modern masterworks by Victoria Borisova-Ollas

Victoria Borisova-Ollas is a Russian-born composer making her home in Sweden. If you (like me) aren’t familiar with her work, start with this recording. It’s stunning.

Borisova-Ollas writes deeply spiritual music, drawing on classical music traditions of the past as well as the present. And she’s an imaginative orchestrator. Her use of percussion is original and distinctive. Her harmonies are often modal.

The title track, “Angelus” was a commission from Munich for their 850th anniversary. Strolling through the city, Borisova-Ollas noted church bells seeming to peal from every corner.

“Angelus” builds on that impression. It begins with a modal melody, then adds the tunes rung by the various steeples in the city. The result isn’t a cacophony, but a glorious celebration of the sound and spiritual meaning of municipal bells. It’s an amazing tour-de-force.

“Before the Mountains Were Born” was commissioned by Andrey Boreyko and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble had a stellar wind section, so Borisova-Ollas features them quite prominently in her orchestration. Plus, the work includes an extended cadenza featuring the flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon.

The “Creation Hymn” for string orchestra is reworked from a string quartet. And reworked is the word. Chords are thickened. Contrasts made more dramatic by alternating between full ensemble and a solo instrument. The power of the string ensemble gives more weight to the music, increasing its emotional impact. it’s a stunner.

After listening to this release, I started looking for other recordings of Borisova-Ollas’s music. Fair warning: you may do the same.

Victoria Borisova-Ollas: Angelus
Orchestral Works
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrey Boreyko, Martyn Brabbins, Sakari Oramo, conductors
BIS 2288

More Recent Posts

  • New Blues News – 1/19/2021

    New Blues Releases – 1/19/2021 Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi – Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions (Hill House): “Texanadians Danny Brooks and Lil Miss Debi (formerly of Toronto Canada) met Tom Easley of AVA Entertainment in 2019 and discussed making a record, making a real recording, blending old school with new tricks and […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 1/19/2021

    New Jazz Adds – 1/19/2021 Michael & Peter Formanek – Dyads (Out Of Your Head): “Michael and Peter Formanek started making music and improvising together before Peter started school. Regular visits to their home from friends and colleagues like Tim Berne, Jim Black, Marty Ehrlich and many others only served to normalize this as being […]

  • Arnold Rosner Requiem — Timeless

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    Toccata Classics has done a real service to music with this recording. It’s one of Arnold Rosner’s most substantial works. And, unfortunately, one most likely to only be heard through recording rather than live performances. The Requiem is a massive work. It contemplates death through a variety of traditions: Zen Buddhism, the Jewish Kaddish, the […]

  • Classical Interviews – Caroline Schetlick

    Caroline Schetlick, a recent UVA graduate focused on orchestral and choral conducting, spoke with WTJU about getting interested in conducting, putting together her DMP, and Holst’s ‘The Planets’. These interviews air as part of WTJU’s Classical Sunrise, weekday mornings from 7-9am. Getting into Conducting Distinguished Majors Program The Uniqueness of Conducting UVA Professors Impact on […]

  • Classical Interviews – Arthur Zanin

    Charlottesville Symphony’s Principal Trumpet, Arthur Zanin, spoke with WTJU about discovering their orchestral passion, the versatility of the trumpet, and the significance of music in education. For more on Arthur Zanin, visit:arthurzanin.com For more on the Charlottesville Symphony, visit: cvillesymphony.org How I found the Orchestra The Different Sounds of the Trumpet Practicing for Trumpet The […]