Organ Music from Northern Europe Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Intrada, Op. 111a (1925) [5:57] Surusoitto, Op. 111b (Mournful music) (1931) [6:47] Niels W. GADE (1817-1890)
Tone Pieces, Op. 22(1851)
I. Moderato [4:17]
II. Allegretto [3:11]
III. Allegro [3:44] Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Fantaisie, Op. 110 (1934-1935) [15:56] Georgy MUSHEL (1909-1989)
Toccata [4:03] Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Commotio, Op. 58 (1931) [22:58] Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Prelude and Fugue in D, Op. 98 (1914) [8:21]
Paul Trepte (organ)
rec. January 1992, Ely Cathedral, UK
HERITAGE HTGCD 214 [76:13]
Now this is an interesting programme. Those who collect
organ CDs will surely agree we need more varied and eclectic
recitals, especially as thereís so much underplayed repertoire
out there. And to have it played on the Harrison organ of Ely
Cathedral would be an added bonus. That said, the Ely/Regis
disc of music by Marcel DuprŤ Ė recorded around the same time
as this Heritage release Ė was a major let-down (review).
Musically itís very uneven and technically it falls well short
of the standards set by more recent organ recordings, notably
those from Finnish labels Alba and Fuga. And the cathedralís
untamed acoustic doesnít help either.
Paul Trepte, who succeeded Arthur Wills as Elyís organist and
director of music, is an obvious choice for this recording,
made several years before the Harrison instrumentís latest refurb
in 1999-2000. That said, heís up against formidable competition
from Kalevi Kivinemi in the Sibelius; indeed, the latterís disc
of Sibeliusís úuvre for organ Ė review
Ė was on my shortlist of Recordings of the Year 2010. Sadly
Trepteís performance of the majestic Intrada, written
for the Swedish Royal coupleís visit to Helsinki in 1925, is
unfocused and underpowered. Just listen to the breadth and heft
of Kiviniemiís reading Ė and Fugaís demonstration-quality recording.
Now that really is magisterial.
Trepte is rather more successful with Soisurotto (Mournful
music), written for the funeral of Sibeliusís artist friend
Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931). He finds just the right balance
between dark gravitas and bright splendour, and although the
recording canít begin to match the wide dynamics of Kivinemiís
disc itís still pretty impressive. As for the three Tone
Pieces by Sibeliusís compatriot Niels Gade, theyíre attractive
enough, although not terribly distinguished. Trepteís judicious
choice of registration and his general lightness of approach
Ė the central Allegretto is especially buoyant Ė certainly gives
the music a much-needed lift.
Glazunovís Fantaisie, dedicated to Marcel DuprŤ, has
all the energy and sparkle one might expect from such a piece
Ė and some lovely, filigreed writing one might not. The recording
is clear and detailed, the organ pedals especially well caught,
adding real frisson to this performance. Indeed, the
panoply of sound at the close is worthy of anything DuprŤ might
have improvised at St-Sulpice or Notre-Dame. And although the
sound is a tad fierce in the climaxes, that matters little when
the playing is as red-blooded as this. Even more thrilling is
the vast wash of sound Trepte conjures up in Georgy Mushelís
Toccata. Thereís a splendid ripple and pulse to this
showstopper, which deserves to be more widely programmed.
Carl Nielsenís final work Commotio is another of those
bold, imaginative works we donít hear often enough. That said,
its vigorous inner workings arenít always as clear as they might
be in this recording; still, Trepte finds the right blend of
rhythm, detail and colour, the organís occasional woody Ďhonkí
sounding entirely apt here. And for a substantial piece Ė around
23 minutes Ė Commotio doesnít outstay its welcome. But
the best comes last, with a richly expansive performance of
Glazunovís Prelude and Fugue in D, dedicated to Saint-SaŽns.
Thereís something of the stern pedagogue in the prelude, the
articulation of the fugue certain to bring a twinkle to the
masterís eye. Not the showpiece one might expect, perhaps, but
deftly scored and played.
This release augurs well for others in the Heritage series,
although the skimpy liner-notes arenít good enough for a CD
that retails at around £10. Still, itís the music that matters,
and despite minor caveats Iím happy to recommend this release
to organ aficionados everywhere.
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