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Hyperion Records

CDA67196 - Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 3
Recording details: November 2000
Oslo Cathedral, Norway
Produced by Chris Hazell
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2002
Total duration: 75 minutes 7 seconds

'A delightful programme of short pieces continues this series devoted to the organ music of a contemporary Czech composer. He could hardly wish for a more sympathetic or more virtuoso interpreter, and the recording renders the splendour of both instruments very vividly' (Gramophone)

'This CD continues the barnstorming success of the previous two … Eben's organ music is a major discovery, full of variety and invention. Heartily recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Organ Music, Vol. 3
Agitato  [1'31]
Afflitto  [1'01]
Agile  [1'18]
Poco moderato  [1'57]
Adagio  [2'37]
Appassionato  [1'06]
Marciale  [1'18]
Comodo  [1'12]
Scherzando  [1'33]
Thema  [0'37]
Agitato molto  [1'10]
Poco moderato  [0'35]
Allegretto  [0'58]
Risoluto  [1'05]
Allegro  [1'30]
Moderato fluente  [4'39]
Festivo I  [1'27]
Festivo II  [1'28]
Impetuoso  [2'17]
Allegretto  [1'45]
Vehemente  [1'01]
Scherzando  [2'04]
Rapsodico  [4'17]
Grazioso  [1'52]
Duo – Agitato  [5'19]

Here is the third instalment of our recordings of the complete organ music of the distinguished Czech composer Petr Eben, certainly one of the 20th century's most significant and prolific writers of organ music. We estimate that the series will eventually run to five discs. (Possibly six, since Mr Eben is currently working on another piece.) For this disc, Norwegian organist Halgeir Schiager has chosen the instrument of Oslo Cathedral. He is joined by a second organist, Kare Nordstoga, for the 'Mutations for One or Two Organs'.

These are all major works, most of them not available otherwise on CD.

Other recommended albums
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 1 – Job' (CDA67194)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 1 – Job
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 2 – Faust' (CDA67195)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 2 – Faust
'Campion: Move now with measured sound' (CDA67268)
Campion: Move now with measured sound
'Martinů: Chamber Music' (CDD22039)
Martinů: Chamber Music
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 CDD22039  2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)  
'Tallis: The Tallis Christmas Mass' (CDGIM034)
Tallis: The Tallis Christmas Mass
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £12.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £12.00 CDGIM034  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Hommage à Henry Purcell
The celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell have inspired me to compose this music. It can indeed be a great pleasure for a composer to give a mark of his respect for a master of a past age, especially one whose work he particularly values and admires.

Some of Purcell’s creative attributes have a particular appeal for me: his music is inventive and melodically interesting, and it includes many striking themes. The character of his music is joyful and often inspired by folk tunes (Scottish and Irish), yet at the same time one finds profoundly religious moods in his work. The harmonies are rich and original (sometimes one even finds parallel sevenths), and the vitality of his music is often strengthened by means of rhythmic devices, through the use of triplets and dotted rhythms.

I have used these qualities as my starting point in composing the Hommage. I have quoted three of Purcell’s themes: the clearest reference is to the ‘Dance of the Furies’ from the opera Dido and Aeneas, whose echo effects seemed to me to lend themselves very well to the use of organ manuals (Allegro, from bar 13).

The theme of the ‘Triumphant Dance’ from the same opera is concealed: quoted in the 4-foot pedal in regular crotchets, it appears here as a foundation below all the other musical activities (Più mosso, bar 69).

Purcell’s best-known theme, the ‘Trumpet Tune’, is only quoted in detail within the framework of my own theme, in bar 208, bar 212, and, split across different octaves, in bars 228 to 231.

My chief concern was to convey the sparkling quality of Henry Purcell’s music with the tools of our own modern musical vocabulary. The advice given as to the stops to be used should be read only as suggestions, depending, of course, on the organ in question. They are merely intended as indications of my thoughts on the mood of individual passages. Nor are the given metronome markings meant to be adhered to too strictly, since they too may have to be adjusted according to the acoustics of the building in which the organ is to be played.

Ten Chorale Preludes
These are moderately difficult preludes to Bohemian Brotherhood hymns that can be used as concert pieces or in church services. They were originally commissioned by the Bärenreiter Verlag, a German classical music publisher, who was responsible for the choice of preludes. The publisher’ s requirements were difficult to meet since they wanted compositions suitable for use in church services, which could be played by organists without formal training and at the same time could be used as stand-alone concert pieces. For this reason a score was written on two staves instead of the three that are commonly used in organ music. I wanted to communicate the different individual characters of the hymns. The arrangements do not follow the traditional hymn prelude model, but assume different forms (e.g. passacaglia, ostinati etc.)

Momenti d’Organo
These ten short compositions were originally commissioned by the Gesellschaft der Orgelfreunde (Society of Friends of the Organ) for its international symposium in Bremen in 1994. As the title suggests they are brief, technically intense compositions not exceeding two or three pages in length.

I have tried to build these short pieces around clearly defined themes and to create melodic, rhythmic and vibrant contrasts.

The two Versetti were originally composed as organ interludes for my Missa cum populo for chorus, organ, wind instruments and congregation. They are, however, suitable for separate recital performance, although I conceived them as liturgical music to be played at those junctures in the Mass at which organ interludes can be inserted – thus particularly during the Offertory and the Communion. This is why the first movement makes use of the Gregorian Palm Sunday antiphon ‘Pueri habraeorum’ (English Hymnal 617) whose text contains the Hosanna and Benedictus and hence establishes a link with the following Sanctus. The prevailing mood of the five variations is that of a joyful procession, hence the sharply dotted rhythm of the ‘ben ritmico’ and the dance-like character of the ‘scherzando’ and ‘con gioia’.

The second movement is based on the Gregorian hymn ‘Adoro te devote’ (English Hymnal 331). In terms both of its content and of its liturgical character it is meditational, while the use of registration and dynamics is sparing. In the concert hall, however, both pieces may be played with a rather wider range of colour, and their performance in the reverse order would be preferable.

Kleine Choralpartita
I composed this small choral partita after completing a series of larger organ works (Sonntagsmusik, Laudes, 2 Choralphantasien) at the request of a number of different organists, who encouraged me to contribute towards producing an easier repertoire designed for church musicians and not to concentrate solely on works for concert performers.

Consequently, this composition, in addition to the Versetti, was conceived for liturgical use (where themes and the first 3 variations were intended as communion music, and variations IV and V as the finale and postlude).

However, this does not mean that it cannot be used in concert performances, which is why more focus has been given to contrast in the variation cycle, and a logical and satisfying progression.

Due preludi festivi per organo
These short fantasias in concerto form based on the Gregorian Ecce sacerdos magnus and I deo jure jurando were written for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Prague. These pieces of music are used as a standard processional for high-ranking church dignitaries and in keeping with this the solemn sound of the organ is favoured with joyful musical phrasing.

Mutationes for One or Two Organs
The idea of the alternation of two organs (‘mutationes’) came to me when I had the opportunity to play an instrument in the Polish town of Oliwa near Gdansk. Here it is possible to sit at one console and play three separate organs situated at different places in the interior of the church. I was enthralled by the tonal contrast and the spatial effect. The occasion for the composition of the present work was a commission by the Welsh Arts Council for an organ piece for the 1980 Cardiff Festival. The alternation of a full, large-scale organ sound and, as it were, a more chamber music, baroque sound is further emphasised by the stylistic contrast: the tonal opulence of the large organ goes hand in hand with a more volatile, tonally freer style, whereas the shorter pieces with their more restricted tonal scope are somewhat archaic in manner and have their tonal centre ‘in A’, as it were.

There are two possible versions of Mutationes:

1: For one player. In this case the first movement is repeated as the seventh and last movement in order to provide a framework for the cycle. If two organs – playable from one console – are not available, then the even-numbered movements (II, IV, VI) should be performed in a registration which imitates a small Baroque organ.

2: For two players on two organs. The two soloists having played the first six movements alternately, the ‘Duo’ is performed together as a finale. The registration of this movement will depend on the tonal balance of the two instruments, but obviously the natural difference between the large and the small organ must be preserved.

From a formal point of view the cycle is a centrally-planned structure. In both versions movements I and VII provide a clear framework, while the true centre of gravity lies in the golden section, in movement V.

Petr Eben © 2002
English: Julia Rushworth and Atlas Translations

Other albums in this series
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 1 – Job' (CDA67194)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 1 – Job
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 2 – Faust' (CDA67195)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 2 – Faust
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 4' (CDA67197)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 4
'Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 5' (CDA67198)
Eben: Organ Music, Vol. 5
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