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Emil SJÖGREN (1853-1918)
The Complete Organ Works
Fantasie op 15 (arr A.W. Gottschalg) [5'10] Preludium och Fuga g-moll op 4 [11'28] Kanon a-moll [2'12] Preludium D-dur [1'16] Fuga a-moll [6'35] Preludium C-dur [1'41] Preludium a-moll [2'40]
Tva sma forspel till Andre Pirro: Svaga stammor g-moll [1'48], Starka stammor C-dur [1'24] Preludium och fuga a-moll op 49 [9'05] Johannes Elmblad in Memoriam [8'24] Preludium och fuga C-dur op posth (1) [8'08] Preludium och fuga C-dur op posth (2) [8'10]
Legender op 46, hafte 1; Andante con devozione C-dur [2'14], Moderato con gravita a-moll [2'16], Andantino con anima G-dur [2'04], Andante con elevazione e-moll [2'52], Andante con delicatezza D-dur [1'38], Largo con dolcezza h-moll [1'52], Andante con sentimento A-dur [2'07], Lento con spirito fiss-moll [1'59], Moderato con elevazione E-dur [2'07], Andante con devozione ciss-moll [1'58], Andante misterioso H-dur [1'58], Andante con solennita giss-moll [2'57]
Legender op 46, hafte 2; Moderato con spirito F-dur [1'39], Maestoso d-moll [2'03], Moderato amabile B-dur [1'46], Andante sostenuto e parlando g-moll [1'46], Larghetto ma non troppo Ess-dur [1'56], Moderato con gravita c-moll [2'02], Andante pastorale Ass-dur [2'16], Andante sostenuto con sordino f-moll [2'04], Andante spianato Dess-dur [2'34], Andante con gravita b-moll [2'12], Andante con semplicita Gess-dur [1'57], Lento espressivo, con sordino ess-moll [2'05]
Ralph Gustafsson, organ
Rec. St Maria Magdalena Church, Stockholm, September-October 1997. DDD
SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD 1083-84 [68'09 + 50'35]

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The music of Emil Sjögren is barely known outside Sweden. Sjögren, well known in his time as an improviser, was organist in the Johannes Church in Stockholm and studied in Berlin. He wrote music for a variety of forces and Alexandre Guilmant is even known to have performed the g minor Preludium och Fuga in the Paris Trocadero in 1906. This is the only recording of his complete organ works. 

Sjögren's style features a, for the time, not unusual lyrical warmth, as well as sometimes well-wrought counterpoint. His fugues are a little dry and academic, typical crescendo-fugues, though many worse cases of '19th century fugue-itis' exist! The opening Fantasie, originally for piano is quite a charming piece, though the transfer to the organ is not entirely satisfactory, the result is rather four-square. In general the free pieces are obviously the work of somebody more preoccupied with improvisation than composition. At their best, a kind of almost Elgarian sweep can be sensed. More often they are rather wandering, often featuring endless pedal-points. The second CD, made up of the Legender miniatures perhaps gives a clue to the liturgical improvisation style of Sjögren, but are actually of minimal interest. The great exception amongst Sjögren's work is the Preludium och Fuga in a minor, which in terms of quality of ideas and succinctness of form is outstanding. The juxtaposition of the two opening ideas, the build-up of the fugue and the neat recapitulation of the opening material easily make this his finest organ work. My colleague Graham Scott (a fellow contributor to these pages), is, as far as I know, the only organist outside Sweden to have championed the work; a pity, because this piece could become very popular with British organists and would sound very well on British Romantic organs.  

Ralph Gustafsson is to be admired for his commitment to this repertoire which he plays with conviction and musicality. His instrument, the heroic 1927 Akerman and Lund, (with material from 1878), is similar to the Akerman organ played by Sjögren in the Johannes Church, and sounds well despite the meagre acoustic. It features a great number of 8' stops, stellar pedal reeds, (including a full length 32' Kontrabasun), limited reeds elsewhere (and these mostly colour stops such as Klarinett and Euphon) and little in the way of upperwork. A very fine child of its time.  

A well produced and interesting reference piece then, but in the main not great music.  

Chris Bragg 


This double CD set, in a single width case, contains, bar a few organ exercises of slight musical worth, the complete organ works of Sjögren. 

This recording project engaged organist Gustafsson at several levels. He edited the music and researched and wrote the booklet note and of course he plays the music. Gustafsson's essays on the man and the music are encyclopedic, personal and vividly evocative of the composer’s character. It is just as well that Sjögren's wife was such a strong promoter of the music for its creator did little or nothing for it and took criticism with an understanding smile. On the other hand anyone who attacked one of his idols was liable to be rounded on with surprising fury. Editor.



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