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?