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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 


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7 ORGANS
Samuel SCHEIDT
(1587-1654)

Cantico Belgica [6'10]
Fantasia super Io son ferito lasso [10'25]
Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (1596-1663)

Galliarda ex D [4'29]
Johann KRIEGER (1652-1735)

Ricercar in e [2'26]
Adagio [1'36]
J.S. BACH (1685-1750)

Praeludium et Fuga in d BWV 539 [7'17]
Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1785)

Fuga in g [1'48]
Fuga in c [4'16]
W.A. MOZART (1756-1791)

Andante in F [6'35]
J.G. KREBS (1713-1780)

from Clavierubung:
Jesu Meine Freude [3'49]
Christ Lag in Todesbanden [4'02]
Meinem Jesum lass ich nicht [3'07]
Naoko Imai, organs
rec. historic instruments in Sweden: Skokloster (1667), Morlanda (1604/1715), Tjallmo (1710), Leufsta Bruk (1728), Jonsered (1783), Yttergran (1776), Borstil (1783), 21 July-1 August 2003. DDD
MUSICA REDIVIVA MRACD 011 [57'56]


The first thing to say about this release from Swedish label Musica Rediviva is how well it is conceived and presented. The idea was to make an ad hoc organ tour of small historic organs in Sweden, with an organist, and to record some appropriate literature on each instrument. This has been marvellously achieved; each instrument is a gem and the accompanying 43 page booklet contains not only full details of the instruments and registrations but also a full social and cultural history of the buildings and areas where they are to be found. It also features some great photography. This has clearly been a labour of love for its creators, but the result has vindicated their efforts. It is a model release.

The instruments were built between 1604 and 1783. Actually, the pipework of the Morlanda organ dates mostly from 1715, so the earliest sounds are really those of the 1667 Joachim Richborn organ in Skokloster. What a charming sound this, tuned, just as the instruments in Morlanda and Tjallmo, in 1/4 comma meantone, and ideally shown off in the Variations on 'Wehe, Windgen, Wehe' from the Tabulatura Nova of Scheidt. The Morlanda organ I actually played briefly during its restoration in the workshops of the Gothenburg Organ Art Centre in 2000. Originally built in Denmark in 1604, the majority of the pipes dates from a rebuild and re-housing in 1715 by Elias Wittig of Gothenburg. This intimate instrument, hand pumped, is well demonstrated in the Scheidt Fantasia and the Galliarda of Scheidemann. The most famous instrument on the disc is Cahmann's 1728 organ for the church at Leufsta Bruk. This is a fascinating organ, the largest preserved instrument of Johan Niclas Cahmann, who, together with his father, can probably be considered the most important organ builder in Sweden in the 100 years between 1650 and 1750. This organ was the subject of a number of interesting essays in the book, 'The Organ as a Mirror of its Time', (ed, Snyder, OUP 2002) to which I refer the interested reader. Here it sounds gorgeous, the bold principals and mesmeric 4' flute especially memorable. At 2/28 this is the largest instrument on the CD. The instrument received a rather early, 1964, restoration by Marcussen, when it was tuned in equal temperament. Since this recording was made a further restoration has taken place. I can't wait to hear the result!

The remainder of the instruments date from the second half of the 18th century. Most memorable are the two 4' flutes used in the wonderful Mozart F major Andante from Jonsered. The other instruments, the tiny Yttergran organ, and the organ at Borstil, which consists of little more than a wonderfully steely tierce-dominated plenum, are demonstrated with well chosen nuggets of Krebs.

If I were to place a small question-mark against this release, then it would concern the playing as it relates to the overall concept. Naoko Imai, a former student of Zsigmond Szathmary, and organ teacher at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, plays well in general, with admirable sensitivity for each challenging instrument she performs on. I find her 18th century repertoire better than her 17th century which sometimes tends toward over-accentuation, especially in weak parts of the bar. However my over-riding concern is in connection with the fact that the disc lasts only 57 minutes. This is simply not long enough to do justice to such an abundance of organic riches. I find it a shame that as a result Ms Imai takes, for example a lengthy Scheidt fantasia and plays it on six different registrations in Morlanda. The booklet gives us extensive details of the Leufsta Bruk organ, including the mixture compositions, but then we don't hear any of the mixtures!

This is then warmly recommended for fabulous presentation, good playing, and wonderful organs and music. Buy it and be inspired to find out more about these remarkable survivals.

Chris Bragg

 

 



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