Born in Vladivostock, where she started piano lessons with her
mother when she was six years old, Borisova–Ollas studied at the
Central Music School in Moscow and the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory.
Subsequently, she attended the Royal College of Music in London,
as an exchange student, and also at the Malmö and Stockholm Colleges
of Music. She settled in Sweden in 1992.
the UK she is probably best known for two works. In 1998 she
won second prize in the first Masterprize competition with Wings
of the Wind, and more recently, her opera–cum–theatre piece The Ground Beneath
Her Feet (based on a novel by Salman Rushdie) was given
in Manchester in June 2007, and subsequently in Stockholm in
May 2008, when Swedish Radio broadcast it live.
language is easy to assimilate but she expects you to do some
work whilst listening for she likes a thick texture and isn’t
afraid to go for the big gesture, which she can bring off with
ease. Wings of the Wind is a fine example of this. Starting
with a whispered idea for winds the music builds to a short–lived
climax. After this, the forward momentum really gets going.
Another climax, with drums to the fore, gives way to a richly
scored, more relaxed, section, with bells, then it’s all over.
This piece has big intentions and Borisova–Ollas carries out
her aim with a style and verve not often experienced in recent
Symphony is equally serious, and just as approachable.
The first movement begins with an haunting and mysterious slow
introduction before bursting forth in a wild allegro. Borisova–Ollas
calls this work her most Russian and certainly there’s a feeling
of the vast reaches of the Steppes and the cold, cold, winters,
but I can also feel the Swedish influence – Blomdahl and Rosenberg
especially. But this is Borisova–Ollas’s own music. It’s a thrilling
ride which never loses its forward impetus. A quiet, and disturbing
coda leaves us wondering. The middle movement is very disturbing,
knockings from lower strings and percussion, tremolandi from
high strings, a climax shatters the stasis with shattering intensity
then it’s gone; like so much in this movement, it’s elusive,
decided but yet indecisive. With bells to the fore the finale
rushes away like a thing possessed! The cold, wide–open spaces
are once again to the fore and as we rush through this barren
landscape the music becomes more agitated – think of Nightride
and Sunrise with real attitude. The final climax, when it
comes, is overpowering in its might. This is a major symphonic
achievement and shouldn’t be missed on any account.
Rondin and the Norrköping
Orchestra throw themselves into these two scores with a power
and understanding which give us a fabulous view of the way a
contemporary composer can really use the orchestra.
seconds of magical silence separate this sonic onslaught from
what comes next. Roosters in Love is a marvelous joke
of a piece. If this is what farmers have to put up with during
the mating season then they must never stop laughing! It’s a
kind of lop–sided dance with lamentations.
Klosterhofe is quite different. It’s a very difficult piece to grasp, elusive
and musically many–layered, but very dark and very sparse. This
is quite different from what we have heard before but persevere
with it. There’s quite a lot there. Silent Island is
so short that there’s almost nothing there! It makes a relaxed
epilogue to the high drama which has gone before.
disk must not be missed by anyone for the music is of the very
highest order and the significance of this exciting composer
cannot be understated.