Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Organo Classico
J.S. BACH (1685-1750) Prelude and Fugue in C minor BWV545; Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele. BWV 654.
Georg BÖHM (1661-1733) Partita ‘Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele’;
Torsten NILSSON (1920-1999) Kleine Messe für Orgel Op.96 (1981);
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Organ Sonata in D minor Op. 65 no.6
Erik Ludkvist (organ)
St. Mary’s Church, Sigtuna, Sweden.
Rec. St. Mary’s Church, Sigtuna, September 2002
PROPRIUS PRCD 2024 [56.26]

This CD, as can be seen, features a magnificent Swedish instrument with quite a long history. Ludkvist is a great Swedish organist with a long pedigree. I must admit however that less than an hour’s worth of music is rather short measure nowadays and the chosen repertoire is fairly standard.

The CD booklet, nicely translated from the Swedish, gives us the organ specification. It has just two manuals, Swell and Great plus a pedal board with seven stops: two at 16’ and a mixture with three ranks. There is no 32’ stop but there seems, especially in the Mendelssohn, no reason to regret that. The photograph shows the twenty-seven available stops.

The history of the instrument is fascinating. The church dates from 1247/8 and an organ was in place then. But it was in 1511 that "a good instrument was built in the church". This was not replaced until 1749. The present fine façade together with some visible pipes can be seen from that period. This organ by Olof Hedlund was in position in a balcony until 1905 but was replaced again in 1924 when it was given twenty-three stops. In 1971 it was refurbished, restoring the 1749 façade and adding the present 16’ stops. Amazingly a new organ was commissioned in 1998 from Gronlunds Orgelbyggeri. This was inaugurated in 2000 and this disc is the first recording featuring the instrument.

It was a fine idea to ask Erik Ludkvist to undertake the recording. He has for many years been a resident organist in Stockholm and has played all over the world. He is also particularly interested in promoting contemporary Swedish composers as well as playing the tried and tested repertoire.

This CD includes Bach and Böhm, composers whose music must have been played on the 1749 organ and by Torsten Nilsson, a very well-known figure in Swedish church music and a fine organist himself. His piece is a rare Organ Mass (without a Credo) in which, at times, i.e., the Hosanna and the Agnus, it is almost possible to sing the words to the music. The mysterious opening Kyrie begins with a beautiful "trembling 4-foot flute that is thrice interleaved with the prayer, Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison" (CD booklet notes by Erik Ludkvist himself). Both the Gloria and the Sanctus however are strong and thrilling especially the former which includes huge cluster dissonances created by the arm or wrist across the keyboard. This work is central to the recital.

The other items include a rather dull, in my view, Partita by Georg Böhm, a teacher of, and an influence upon, the great Bach. In ‘Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele’ one feels that the harpsichord is not far away. It is an excellent idea that each of the eleven variations is given a separate track. The penultimate variation uses the mellifluous 8-foot principal stop mentioned above from the 1749 Hedlund Organ.

The Bach Choral Prelude is tastefully played. The Prelude and Fugue which opens the disc and the famous Mendelssohn Sonata which closes it are classical in execution and obviously played by a man who knows the music inside out.

Verdict: Good performances and a fine recording make this a very tempting disc.

Gary Higginson


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