Victoria Borisova-Ollas (1969, Russia) lives in Sweden for many years. She first achieved international recognition when her work Wings of the Wind won the Second Prize in the Masterprize competition in 1998: the critics were ecstatic, describing her work as a piece of “sparkling sonic poetry.“ She uses an original and innovative vocabulary of sounds to create acoustic spaces of great beauty and intensity, capable of captivating both sophisticated ears and those of less experienced but curious. Her music is widely performed all around the world by orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Radio Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra… Since 2008 Victoria Borisova-Ollas is member of the The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Most of her works are published by Universal Edition, Vienna.
Behind the Shadows
The music of the Russian-Swedish composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas often has impulses from areas outside the strictly musical-visual art by a Chagall or a Malevich, religious texts, or, as here, a novel. But even though Zelda Fitzgerald’s autobiographical novel Save Me the Waltz (1932) is behind the music, it is not a case of a complete smelting of a long narrative, but rather about glimpses into powerful scenes and visits in atmospheric rooms.
Not least due to the shifting percussion in the work, which also has three string parts (viola, violoncello, and double bass), pregnant changes in the musical rooms are achieved. The composer has started from the scenes where the daughter of the family in the novel, alone in a hotel room in Switzerland, is frightened by the scary play of the shadows, but even sounds from cowbells appear as calming elements.
Zelda was married to Scott Fitzgerald, the great depicter of the wild 1920s of the “Jazz age” (in for example “The Great Gatsby”), and both died prematurely. It is precisely the destructive aspects of this unfettered epoch that Borisova-Ollas wants to remind us of through the dark wave that goes through the piece. – Erik Wallrup