Both Glass and Børresen have done comparatively well
in the recording stakes since the mid-1990s. Both are saturated
romantics with Børresen in particular clearly indebted to
Schumann and Tchaikovsky.
Børresen’s 1907 violin sonata is a no-holds-barred exercise
in romantic indulgence. Its singing line yearns and sighs,
storms and ardently triumphs. If the second movement toys
with metropolitan café culture it’s a passing influence.
That voice is well and truly sunk by the Rachmaninovian climax
at 4:40. Rather like the First Symphony and the Tchaikovskian
Violin Concerto - recorded together on Dacapo - this is a
successful work and when played with exhausting passion,
as here, it works well indeed. The performance is made memorable
and distinctive by Balk-Møller’s lip-trembling emotionality
carried by her sometimes febrile sound. This is to be contrasted
with her dramatic vehemence at the close of the finale. The
recording is big and squares up well to the challenges of
such romantic effusion. Listen for example to the resounding
pay-off climax to the first movement of the Børresen.
Across its four movements the Glass is even more fluent,
fluid and warm-hearted - perhaps too much for its own good.
While the Børresen could pass for the Danish equivalent of
the Franck this is perhaps closer to Saint-Saëns. This is
even clearer in the playful Scherzo with its man-about-town,
cane-twirling charm. The finale - in duration symmetry with
the first movement - trots gracefully along. Its concern
with elegance and charm makes for winning ways. It’s a pity
because we know from his Fifth Symphony of almost two decades
later that he could write music of remarkably Tchaikovskian
quality. This piece is of a much earlier vintage when he
was still finding his voice. Pleasing invention all the same.
Henriques’s 1911 Mazurka is a show-piece with all the
whistling and cackling tricks in the book. It’s like a conflation
of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, Wieniawski, Kreisler
and Sibelius’s Humoresques. After these antics comes
a suavely slippery cradle song written rather like Glass’s
contemporary Fifth Symphony as if the battlefields of Europe
were not awash in carnage. Still the final descent into slumber
is lovingly done with a sigh and from Balk-Møller a steadiness
of tone way down to pianissimo and into sweet silence.
Dacapo have done this as winningly as usual. Just
one typical example - the measured silences between the Børresen
and the Glass.
Three Danish late-romantics treading the path through
salon shallows and romantic excess. Lovingly performed and