Monday 11 January 2016

Wonderfully engaging music from Nimrod Borenstein on a new release from the recently established Solaire Records

Composer Nimrod Borenstein (b. 1969) was born in Tel Aviv but grew up in Paris where he started his musical education at the age of three. In 1984 he became a Laureat of the Cziffra Foundation and subsequently moved to London to pursue his studies as a violinist with Itzhak Rashkovsky at the Royal College of Music. He was then awarded the highest scholarship from the Leverhulme Trust to study composition with Paul Patterson at the Royal Academy of Music. He is now an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. 

With acclaimed performances of his music throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan, Nimrod Borenstein has established himself as one of the leading composers of his generation. His catalogue of compositions numbers more than seventy and is wide in its scope, including orchestral and chamber music, concertos, vocal, solo instrumental repertoire and ballet.

Borenstein’s compositions have been premiered and performed at prestigious venues such as the Royal Opera House and the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Salle Gaveau in Paris and Carnegie Hall in New York. Nimrod Borenstein has been composer-in-residence of several Festivals and orchestras and his music is performed in numerous music festivals across Europe.

A particular highlight of 2015 was the world premiere at the Royal Opera House of his ballet 'Suspended' opus 69, written for Gandini Juggling's '4 x 4: Ephemeral Architectures'. Following the premiere, the ballet was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for twenty three shows during the summer and is now touring the world.

Having just entered into a multi-disc recording contract with Solaire, the new label by Berlin-based producer Dirk Fischer, the first fruits of this enterprise is a recording of Borenstein's 'Suspended' opus 69. das freie orchester Berlin is conducted by Laércio Diniz

SOL 1001
Written for string orchestra, The world of yesterday: Mysterious opens Suspended opus 69 with a high, long held violin note against single bass notes. Slowly the violin falls lower before falling silent to make way for The world of yesterday: Moderato where the whole orchestra builds a theme around the opening descending motif, with the basses keeping a pulse.  A fine melody is woven with varied rhythms in the basses before a gentler, slower passage arrives that creates some lovely textures. The music flows into a subtle and gentle waltz rhythm and when the coda arrives it is just the basses left with their rhythmic motif.

Suspended brings a swirling motif that leads to a complex layering of string textures with different lines appearing from the texture as this fast flowing section moves ahead. There are little interruptions bringing varied ideas including pizzicato strings as well as some very fine textures and sonorities.

Stillness has a beautifully conceived, quiet string opening with, again, a descending motif heard over basses. This is such a simple idea but it creates a wonderful atmosphere especially as sensitively played by das freie orchester Berlin. Borenstein finds such a natural forward flow from such simple means. Soon the descending motif falls to the basses in a remarkably conceived idea, before slowly broadening, with the violas bringing a high, beautifully played line over the long drawn bass chord.

Pizzicato basses open Tango to which a mellifluous, flowing melody is added. This composer weaves his strings around the theme with such fine assurance adding much to the basic melody. There is a quieter, slower moment where the tango rhythm almost finds a halt but soon moves forward. A quiet pizzicato passage follows with some most unusual ideas before the strings return the melody over the pizzicato basses for a gentle coda.  

Rapidly bowed strings open Annoyed bringing some terrific, subtly dissonant harmonies before a fast flowing melody is established. The melody is often underlaid with faster, more insistent string layers in this impressive section that demonstrates the most accomplished string writing. The music moves decisively to the coda on a bass motif.

Pizzicato strings open Boys and Girls, soon overlaid by a brilliantly devised theme that takes its different rhythms forward. There is an underlying motif over which a fine theme flows with ever changing tempi and harmonies. The lead up to the coda reflects this composer’s fascination with rising and falling motifs.  

Pizzicato serenade brings a simple little pizzicato motif for violin to which the basses add a deeper pizzicato accompaniment. The music slowly develops across the orchestra bringing a rather distinctive theme with constantly varied tempi, dynamics and rhythms.

Violins open the light textured Tomorrow’s waltz that brings a fine layer of string sonorities, swirling and shifting through some lovely passages. Occasionally there are slightly slower sections but the music always regains its tempo, subtly weaving forward with a fine sweep. There is so much going on in the various strands of the orchestra in this terrific movement, which rises to end on pizzicato in the basses. 

This is a terrific disc that brings some exceptionally fine and inventive string writing. They receive an excellent recording made in Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, the venue for so many fine recordings of the past. Nicely presented with a booklet which has copious notes that take the form of an interview with the composer and various essays on the music, all contained in a slip case. Though just over forty minutes in duration this disc is packed with some wonderfully engaging music.

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