Flor PEETERS (1903–1986)
Organ music
Concert Piece Op.52a (1944, arr. 1955) [7:01]
Aria Op.51 (1943) [3:42]
Suite Modale Op.43 (1938) [14:28]
Variationen und Finale über ein altflämisches Lied Op.20 (1929) [15:28]
Nun sei willkommen, Jesus, lieber Herr Op.39 No.3 (1936) [4:05]
Maria sollte nach Bethlehem gehn Op.39 No.5 (1936) [1:27]
Elegie Op.38 (1935) [8:09]
Toccata, fugue et hymne sur “Ave Maris Stella” Op.28 (1931) [7:36]
Lied to the Flowers Op.66 No.3 (1948) [6:36]
Lied to the Sun Op.66 No.5 (1948) [5:06]
D’Arcy Trinkwon (Marcussen Organ of Tonbridge School Chapel)
rec. Tonbridge School Chapel 28, 30 October 2009
HYPERION CDA 67825 [73:38]

Although he composed a few works for orchestra and some piano music Flor Peeters is best known for his many organ works and his choral music. The present release offers a fairly representative selection of his organ music that includes both short and considerably more developed and demanding pieces.

The Concert Piece Op.52a is an arrangement made in 1955 of the last movement of Peeters’ masterly Organ Concerto Op.52, once available on Klara MMP 041 (reviewed here a few years ago). Thus the piece begins with the virtuosic cadenza that opens the concerto’s third movement and ends with the brilliant closing pages. The slower central section reworks some of the more lyrical elements. The whole amounts to a brilliant Toccata in all but name.

The Aria Op.51, too, is an arrangement of the slow movement of a sonata for trumpet and piano that is still staple diet for any budding virtuoso trumpet player. There also exist arrangements for violin and piano and for cello and piano. There is also one for trumpet and wind band made in 1977 by Bryan Goff and the composer. This is a simple, but quite effective piece.

Suite Modale Op.43 might well be Peeters’ most popular work and quite deservedly so, I should say. The composer conceived it along the same lines as Boëllmann’s Suite Gothique but “in a more contemporary, modal language”. The majestic opening Koraal is followed by a fleet-footed Scherzo and a straightforward but deeply felt Adagio. As might be expected the work ends with a brilliant Toccata.

The Variations and Finale on an Old Flemish Song Op.20 is based on an old Flemish carol as so many of Peeters’ works will be. As David Gammie rightly observes in his excellent notes, the piece pays tribute to Dupré and to his Variations sur un vieux Noël Op.20 on which Peeters’ work is clearly modelled. The theme is never really absent and keeps reappearing in one guise or another in each of the eight, highly varied variations, the last of which is another brilliant Toccata.

Zehn Orgelchoräle Op.39 is the first of many sets of pieces based on old Flemish tunes that Peeters was to compose throughout his career. Nun sei willkommen, Jesus, lieber Herr and Maria sollte nach Bethlehem gehn are the third and fifth movements and they form a nicely varied diptych.

The Elégie Op.38 was composed in memory of the composer’s mother. It is a straightforward piece cast in arch form in which the music unfolds over a syncopated ostinato while growing in intensity towards an impassioned climax before subsiding. It ends with a beautifully moving ethereal coda based on In Paradisum deducant te angeli chiming away softly before reaching a high note slowly dissolving in the air. For all its formal simplicity this is not only the most moving work in this selection but also the work of a real master that succeeds in saying much with quite limited means.

The compact triptych Toccata, fugue et Hymne sur “Ave Maris Stella” Op.28 is dedicated to Tournemire who had dedicated a volume of his own L’orgue mystique to Flor Peeters. However, Peeters manages to remain his own man throughout without ever attempting to imitate Tournemire. The outer sections of the Toccata almost graphically suggest “rolling waves of sound” whereas the music somewhat eases in the central section. The Fugue has an irresistible dancing character whereas the concluding Hymne has the hymn tune stated in mighty block chords.

Peeters sketched his Lied Symphony Op.66 during his second tour of the USA in 1947 and the work was completed in 1948. The composer conceived it as a “symphonic Benedicite”, a hymn to nature and its Creator. There are five movements: Lied to the ocean, Lied to the desert, Lied to the flowers, Lied to the mountains and Lied to the sun. So what we have here are the third and the fifth movements. Lied to the flowers is a beautiful piece, full of delicate and subtle colours whereas Lied to the sun (dedicated to Virgil Fox) is yet another brilliant Toccata ending in a dazzling blaze of light.

D’Arcy Trinkwon has an obvious empathy with the music aided by his flawless technique while the recording is just superb. I hope that this release will not be a one-off for D’Arcy Trinkwon is certainly the man to record more of Peeters’ organ music. I would certainly like to have him record the complete Lied Symphony and the Sinfonia per organo Op.48, another peak in Peeters’ organ music.

Hubert Culot

A generously filled selection of Peeters’ organ works in magnificent performances and recording.