EGIL HOVLAND: Elementa Pro Organo – Organ Works [TrackList follows] Anders Eidsten Dahl, organist – Lawo Classics multichannel 5.0 SACD LWC1078, 76:59 (7/10/15) [Distr. by Allegro] ****1/2:
This multichannel SACD features music by Egil Hovland. Hovland wrote large works — symphonies, concertos, operas, choral works, organ music, and more — and he composed smaller-scale works, such as chorales and biblical hymns. In some aspects of his compositional activity, Hovland was someone who sought out new paths and broke new ground. Anyone looking for something in Norwegian music that can be called “modernist” by twentieth-century standards will necessarily end up with Hovland, among others. His experimental works often led to intense debates. Hovland died in 2013.
This disc contains a pretty representative collection of Hovland’s music, performed by Anders Eidsten Dahl. Dahl (born 1976) studied with Terje Winge at the Norwegian Academy of Music, where he received a degree in church music in 1999. Following his studies with Kåre Nordstoga, he received his diploma in solo organ performance from the same institution in 2001. In 2003 he completed two years of study with Hans Fagius at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Many of the works on his disc are heard for the first time on a recording. The works represent several stylistic directions Hovland embraced, from a classical style to expressionistic modernism.
This is a fine recording and performance of these rather obscure works. Although this is only a 5.0 channel disc, with no discreet bass channel, the low end is prodigious. The works offered are technically difficult, and Dahl is a capable organist who sails through the difficult arpeggios and dense pedal notes. The dynamic range on the disc is very high. You may find yourself adjusting levels to bring up the quiet parts, and bolting for your remote when the triple forte’s appear.
The extant question is what kind of listener would appreciate this disc? I think someone who appreciates contemporary organ music would truly enjoy this collection. I’m not sure the casual listener would play the disc straight through, mainly due to the divergent styles.
I found this disc a good listen, and a nice introduction to a composer who was not on my radar.
1. HOVLAND: Choral Partita No. 1, Six Variations Op. 7
2. Elementa pro organo, Op. 52
3. Organ Chorales Book 4
4. Four Interludes to Missa Vigilate , Op. 67
5. Shorter Compositions for Organ, Op. 135
6. Choral Partita No. 8 over God’s Church People Sing , Op. 159