Ole OLSEN (1850-1927)
Orchestral Works
Asgaardsreien, symphonic poem, Op.10 (1878) [10:25]
Concerto in F major for trombone and orchestra, Op.48 [14:02]
Symphony No.1 in G major, Op.5 (1878) [37:20]
Christian Lindberg (trombone)
Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra/Rune A. Halvorsen
rec. Feb 2011, Harstad Kulturhus, Norway. Hybrid Disc (SACD Surround / SACD Stereo / CD Stereo)
BIS-SACD-1968 [62:56]

Check Olsen's dates and revise your expectations. Perhaps you won't need to; I did. I sloppily assumed - without any evidence - that Olsen would have been another romantic in the line of Atterburg, Madetoja and Nystroem. No such thing. His music -fascinatingly brought to our ears by the Arctic Philharmonic and colleagues - has more in common with Grieg perhaps spliced with Saint-Saens and even Bizet.

Asgaardreien is darker as befits its images of Thor leading a furious horde of horses flying across the firmament. It's pretty much a Lisztian tone-poem in the manner of Hunnenschlacht and Tasso. There are a few moments where Olsen touches base with Mussorgsky's Night on a Bare Mountain and Berlioz's Witches Sabbath. The Trombone Concerto is one long undulating cantilena - bel canto for the tenor trombone soloist. Across three movements there is never an awkward corner. The writing is rounded and obviously indebted to the human voice. The concerto is lovingly shaped and flighted by Christian Lindberg who proves that while he is an advocate of the avant-garde he can spin a vivacious and seductive line with the very best. Good to see that the concerto is also available for French Horn. The Symphony is in four movements. The sound-world here moves between Glazunov, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens. It’s an accomplished work but for me its charms lie in its light moods rather than in addressing the grand symphonic terrain. Pleasing rather than compelling stuff.

Olsen was newish to me - though I have in fact heard Sterling’s Olsen CD - but if you have a taste for say Raff or any of the other composers mentioned above perhaps with a tinge of Grieg then this is for you.

Rob Barnett

Olsen fascinatingly brought to our ears. Much in common with Grieg perhaps spliced with Saint-Saens and even Bizet.