Universal Edition - Victoria Borisova-Ollas – Golden Dances of the Pharaohs

Victoria Borisova-Ollas

Victoria Borisova-Ollas
Golden Dances of the Pharaohs

Year of composition: 2010
Scored for: for clarinet and orchestra
Composer: Victoria Borisova-Ollas
Parts: Narrator (tape) optional
Soloists: clarinet in Bb
Instrumentation: 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, pno, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
3rd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
3rd clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
3rd bassoon (+cbsn)
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
3rd trumpet in Bb
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
1st percussion (vibraphone, thai gongs, suspended cymbal, triangle, tambourine, 4 congas, 5 temple blocks)
2nd percussion (vibraphone, thai gongs, 2 tam-tams, wind chimes, bongos, wood blocks, castanets, tambourine, sleigh bells)
3rd percussion (marimba, suspended cymbals, crotali, 6 tom-tom, tambourine, bass drum)
violin I
violin II
Commissioned by: "Commissioned by Stockholm Concert Hall Foundation / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra"
Duration: 20′
Dedication: to Martin Fröst
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Audio Excerpt

Golden Dances of the Pharaohs

World Première

Location: Konserthuset Stockholm / Sweden
Date: 06.05.2010
Orchestra: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Sakari Oramo
Main Soloists: Martin Fröst, clar

Work Introduction

Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ concerto for clarinet and orchestra is the composer’s own way of reflecting on the life of the ancient Egyptians. With its extended performance techniques, the work is a real challenge and a tour-de-force for a virtuoso clarinetist. The première was given Stockholm by Martin Fröst and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo.

“Through her cooperation with Martin Fröst she explores the clarinet as if a conjurer’s wand and lets the soloist play with techniques suggesting a tone that might have surrounded the Egyptian Sovereigns,” wrote Sofia Nyblom in the Svenska Dagbladet. Martin Nyström, writing in Dagens Nyheter, commented on  “Wondrous tunes from a realm long gone … an almost ecstatic dance procession from the past with the clarinet as the lead singer.”

Introduction by the composer

“Concerning Egypt, I will now speak at length, because nowhere are there so many marvelous things, nor in the whole world beside are there to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness."  Written in the 5th century BC by Herodotus, the description of a mysterious country of the East still stands today. Centuries have passed, and our knowledge of Egypt and its mighty rulers, the Great Kings, the Pharaohs, has developed into an almost complete science. We know practically everything about their daily habits; we have studied carefully all the silent traces left behind by the great civilization.

But there is an important part of this picture which is still missing: the sounds are not there. Swallowed by the inexorable current of time, they left the impressive stone structures mute. The faces once hidden behind the golden masks … what were the timbres of their voices? The moods of their ritual songs? What was the music like when they danced?

Victoria Borisova-Ollas


"She explores the clarinet as if a conjurer’s wand and lets the soloist play with techniques suggesting a tone that might have surrounded the Egyptian sovereigns. With the use of circular breathing Martin Fröst conjures up a phantom behind the clarinet as if Tutankhamun were to suddenly discard his bandages to tell us of his short life as sun king and cripple. A chaotic vision of desert sands and dance rise from a string tremolo, accompanied by percussion rhythms and Klezmer-like virtuosic clarinet cadences. Borisova-Ollas sometimes works in the Russian composer’s School with stylistic principles and the golden mask of the Pharaoh seems to awaken her associations with luring danger – using the clarinet's unfinished cry as the signal of a consummate catastrophe." (Sofia Nyblom, Svenska Dagbladet)

"With Martin Fröst as the soloist, Golden Dances of Pharaohs become an almost ecstatic dance procession from the past with the clarinet as the lead singer. ... A wondrous song from an ancient realm that reaches very far this evening" (Martin Nyström, Dagens Nyheter)

"Victoria Borisova-Ollas starts off from Herodotus Egyptian travel reports and the result is a breathtaking musical journey that ends too soon." (Gunialla Brodej, Expressen)

Selected editions are available on sale on request.

Golden Dances of the Pharaohs

2 Ensembles that have played this work:

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