The major work here is the Czech composer Eben's Symphonia
. It was written in 1953 and premiered in Prague
The Symphony is in four sections but they appear here as an inconvenient
single track which at least encourages continuous listening rather
than picking and choosing. The first movement includes a gently
undulating introduction by the solo which with ineluctable subtlety
rises to a life-enhancing climax. Time and again, as well as
revelling in the ecclesiastical atmosphere most naturally alluded
to by the organ, Eben connects with his exemplars especially
the elegiac magnificence of Josef Suk. To this he adds small
infusions of Franz Schmidt, Hindemith and even Dvořák.
The writing is inventive and carries an urgent and magnificent
charge. Serenity, starry strings and the harp are frequent visitors
to this little known score. At 31:31 in the Allegro Risoluto
we are in the midst of a vigorous and uproarious chase sequence.
In the starry pensive Adagio
the slow motion of the aurora
borealis mixes with the suggestion of orthodox chant in a monumentally
swirling ascent. And those drums at 39:00 surely owe inspiration
to Suk's Asrael
. At 39:42 there is a songful meditation
by solo violin. The finale is full of brio - a rampant Allegro
a serious accent and gritty determination.
This music enjoys a clear and unclouded recording which celebrates
the grander moments as well as the many quietly serene confidences
The notes by the composer are in German, English and French.
They seem to be a transcription and translation of the commentary
so clearly orated by the composer in track 2.
The symphony is heard in a live concert performance with audience
present. They are a couth lot and know how to behave. The only
tremor come in the odd cough or discreet throat-clearing.
This is a work that you need to encounter if you enjoy the Saint-Saens
Organ Symphony, the Poulenc or the Guilmant symphonies (also
first recorded on Motette).