The Organ


20th Century Swedish Organ Music performed by Erik Lundkvist

Here is another recording from the burgeoning SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) pool. Proprius, among many other record companies, are moving with the spirit of the age to provide sonic flexibility to the listener as new technologies open up to an ever more demanding public.

Here we have a portrait of works from Sweden played upon Stockholm Concert Hall’s organ built by Grönlunds Orgelbyggeri in 1982. The cover displays an awesome instrumental façade, while inside the booklet states the specification of the organ but nothing else regarding it, save for a small note on the inside cover saying: ‘The reverberation of the concert hall is too short in itself to use for a recording of organ music. We have analysed this reverberation and added digital reverberation with similar characteristics but with longer reverberation time.’ Such is technology!

The music on the disc comes over a little uninspiring as a programme. Much of the stylistic quality peculiar to each composer is not as easy to distinguish as one might like and the composers Hilding Rosenberg (1892-1985), Harald Fryklöf (1882-1919), Otto Olsson (1879-1964) and Gunno Södersten (1920-1998), who make up Erik Lundkvist’s programme, are less dramatically inclined than I find interesting. The Dies Irae from Gunno Södersten’s Requiem per Organo, op.137, is dramatic enough but it does arch back to quieter climes which somehow take the exciting edge away from the movement. The Sanctus offers some dramatic impetus but nothing that over excites, so I looked towards the Lux aeterna for inspiration, but was sadly disappointed by its overall blandness. More enjoyable was Harald Fryklöf’s Passacaglia where divisions are treated fairly in terms of colour, while contrasts prove not overly vibrant but radiant enough to sustain interest as the movement flows through different moods on its journey.

Each of the works have their own particular merits but the disc would be best served with a much more mixed bag of international composers to show off the instrument found at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The recording, however, is first rate and adds to the appeal of the whole. Erik Lundkvist is marvellous throughout.