The Organ


Christopher Herrick at the organ of Norrfjärden Church, near Piteå, Sweden
HYPERION CDA67421/2 (2CDs)

For anyone familiar with Christopher Herrick’s performances on Hyperion then it only follows that in reviewing this two-disc set of works by one of the most famous of organ composers, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, it will undoubtedly be peppered with superlatives. And upon listening to the opening Fantasia Chromatica the truth is that this recording lends itself so easily to such rich epithets.

The organ itself has a complex history but began life as the 21-stop, two-manual and pedal organ of the German Church in Stockholm in 1609, built by Paulus Müller. After many and varied upgrades, reconstruction and moves it is now firmly located in the Norrfjärden Church, the latest restoration of 1997-9 putting it back to its 1780 state when it was housed in Övertorneå Church. The beautiful façade of the latest instrument is shown in a photograph on the back page of the accompanying booklet.

Richness pervades the colouration and registrations carried by the organ of Norrfjärden Church, the sense of which is consistently rooted out as one moves through the discs. Details of the registrations for each work are given in the booklet, adding dimension to our overall perception. The music is given all the gradations necessary to the forms of composition from fantasias through to sacred and secular variations, Herrick ever mindful of the need for clear lines, which is an achievement of this recording. Sweelinck’s position in influencing the North German composers Scheidt and Schiedermann is sharply felt but more so for their own influence after Sweelinck upon Buxtehude and J S Bach.This lineage is one that no doubt influences Herrick with his choice of presentation. Make all the space necessary in your collection.