SYMPHONIC ORGAN MUSIC - Volume 1
Intrada, op.111a; Surusoitto, op.111b; Masonic Ritual Music, op.113: 1.
Avvaushymni, 10. Surumarssi
Preludes in D, G, a, B flat; Fughetta in D; Fugues in D, g,
Prelude and Fugue in D, op.93; Prelude and Fugue in d, op.98; Fantasy,
Hans-Ola Ericsson (organ)
on the 1998 Gerald Woehl organ of St. Petrus Canisius, Friedrichshafen/Bodensee,
In these days when we are expected to load our shelves with multi-volume
complete editions of one thing or another, it is heartening to find that
the complete organ music of Sibelius and Dvorak leaves enough space on one
CD for most of Glazunov's as well. It may be news to many readers that these
composers wrote organ music at all, and in the case of Dvorak he virtually
didn't, for these are composition exercises from his student days which remained
in the archives of Prague Conservatoire until they were found and edited
by Jarmil Burghauser in 1980. Some of the world's most boring music has been
written as before-service preludes and Dvorak's student exercises are more
engaging than many a more professional job, but it would be unwise to read
more into them than that. Occasionally Mr. Ericsson seems to be trying too
hard, but generally he leaves their homely charm to speak for itself.
The Sibelius pieces come from late in his composing life. The Intrada offers
mainly instant pomp and is rather wearingly loud but Surusoitto (Funeral
Music) is of some importance. Sibelius's widow is said to have revealed that
it used material from the destroyed 8th Symphony. If that is so,
it shows that the composer was returning to the harsh, uncompromising world
of the 4th Symphony. "This way leads to madness", he said when
questioned as to why subsequent works went no further in that direction.
Is this why he never succeeded in completing the 8th? Ericsson
is effective here.
The remaining two pieces are solo movements from a work which otherwise uses
a tenor soloist, and are attractive enough to arouse interest in the complete
If Sibelius and Dvorak were hampered by their lack of knowledge of the organ,
Glazunov, like Saint-Saëns or Stanford, was a total professional in
everything he did. The full range of the romantic organ is exploited and
those who revel in a full flood of exciting organ sound and an exciting fugal
build-up will rejoice in it all. Nothing very Russian emerges but the D minor
work, in particular, is based on very striking material. It is strange that
the otherwise excellent notes fail to notice that the Fantasy makes extensive
and ingenious use of the Dies Irae theme. It would be interesting
to know what is behind this, for surely we have here a moving last testament
from the elderly, exiled composer who was to die not long after and who had
virtually given up composition since the First World War.
Faced with much more challenging material, Ericsson is really magnificent,
drawing a wide range of colours from the instrument and registering the
2nd movement (Allegretto pastorale) of the Fantasy with notable
imagination. The organ itself is a new one, attractive in its lighter tones,
but the reeds sound a bit fierce to my ears. Perhaps, since the reverberation
period is not long by ecclesiastical standards, more acoustic ambience could
have been added without affecting clarity? However, the booklet includes
an interesting, if high-flown, note by the builder who speaks of the necessity
of the organ to complete and reflect the architecture of the church. In
particular he mentions the "violet-blue atmosphere created by the large pictures
of the Stations of the Cross". That being so, perhaps we should not judge
the organ from its sound alone - it's a pity a photograph was not included.
Still, we have detailed notes on the music and the organist in 3 languages
and full specifications of an instrument which organ enthusiasts will be
glad to have so well displayed. And, if you get this for Dvorak and Sibelius,
be prepared to find it's the Glazunov that really turns you on.