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Elfrida ANDREE (1841-1929)
Orgelsymfoni nr 2 for orgel och massingblasinstrument Ess-dur: Allegro Moderato [6’20], Andantino cantabile [6’49], Finale: Allegro maestoso [6’59]
Andantino e-moll [4’38]
Fuga con spirito Ess-dur [4’28]
Koral med variationer d-moll [8’58]
Andante G-dur [2’01]
Melodi ciss-moll [1’50]
Orgelsymfoni nr 1 h-moll: Moderato [9’41], Fugato: Andante lento e grazioso [2’29], Cantabile [4’29], Finale: Allegro giusto e maestoso [4’55]
Symfonisk dikt e-moll [13’59]
Ralph Gustaffson, organ
Brass Ensemble/Ragnar Bohlin
Rec: St Maria Magdalena Church, Stockholm, 26-27 August, 4-5 October 1998 DDD


Elfrida Andree was an interesting character: one of the few women of her time to make such a mark in the country of her birth, both in music in general and, more astonishingly, in the organ loft. She was in fact organist of Gothenburg Cathedral from 1867 (unthinkable at that time that a woman should become a Cathedral organist at all, let alone at just 26 years old!) until her death. Her style reflects the dominant German influences of the time – cf Schumann - and the music of Alexandre Guilmant, whom Andree heard play in Paris and whose music she herself played. Her visits to England are also reflected in her manner of writing for the organ, Alfred Hollins seems never too far away. This recording comprises all Andree’s surviving organ works with the exception of some small chorale preludes.

The music is characterised by a certain tuneful warmth. Perhaps it is no coincidence that her first organ symphony, while declined by the Swedish publisher Gehrmans, was accepted by the London publisher Augener; one could well believe that this music came from an English composer of the late 19th century. Unfortunately I was not so convinced by the quality of the music in general. The pieces often seem to lack a sound structural basis, and are harmonically, bland. Most effective is the Orgelsymfoni nr 2 with the brass ensemble, but even here the juxtaposition of the forces is unimaginative.

The performances are committed and the enthusiasm with which Ralph Gustaffson, (current professor of organ at the Conservatory in Stockholm and organist of the Maria Magdalena Church) has gone about this set of projects of Swedish Romantic organ music is very admirable. ‘His’ organ, an Akerman and Lund instrument of 1878/1927 sounds remarkably English, and demonstrates a high quality in the 8 flues and strings especially. Sadly the acoustic is not very large and one is left with the impression of an instrument which is perhaps slightly too big for the room.

Interesting then, but really only for fans of the obscure.

Chris Bragg

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