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ClassicsOnline Home » MORTENSEN, O.: Vocal Music
By David Denton
Born in Copenhagen in 1907, Otto Mortensen studied piano and organ, only moving to composition later in life, the vocal music that occupied the bulk of his output becoming a favourite among Danish choirs. He belonged to the group of composer who saw the disaffection of concert audiences in the 1930s to the ‘modernist’ movement, and decided to reconnect with melodic music that would be more easily understood. Much of his later life was given to teaching at the Royal Danish Academy and Aarhus University. The present disc is largely devoted to solo songs composed in the 1930s and 40s and were subsequently gathered together in cycles. Occasionally funny, they mainly talk of love and the sadness that it brings, and I wish there had been more hints of happiness to balance out the sombre aspects. They are performed by two very differing singers: the silvery soprano, Signe Asmussen, concentrating on her very beautiful tonal quality with words left to look after themselves, while the tenor, Jakob Naeslund Madsen, takes the diametrically opposite view. The contrast works well, and they share the exceptionally fine and well balanced accompaniment of Christen Stubbe Teglbjaerg. When Mortensen moves from his prevailing sadness in Signorina! Tag mine roser from 10 Danish Songs and Adventures of Isobel there is an infectious joy to the music. I equally enjoyed the six songs taken from 10 Songs to Texts by Nordic Poems, with the intense beauty of Til varen (To Spring). The sound is excellent.
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MORTENSEN, O.: Vocal Music