“OrganOrgan” – ARMAS MAASALO: Theme & Variations Op. 35; Sonata in C minor Op. 5; VÄINÖ RAITIO: Conzonetta; Legenda Op. 20 No. 1; JOHN GRANLUND: Passacaglia; Organ Sonata in B flat minor – Ville Urponen, Kangasala Organ of St. Martin’s Church, Turku, Finland – Alba multichannel SACD ABCD 298, 67:19 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
If I weren’t so polite I would accuse the Alba folks of deceptive advertising. I requested this SACD primarily because by its title I assumed it featured two pipe organs, a form I really like, as I do two piano recordings. Unfortunately, I assumed too much, as this is a single pipe organ and organist and in fact is subtitled “Historical Finnish Organ Works.” I guess I understand why the Alba folks didn’t use that as the main title…
As one would probably expect, organ compositions in Finland got a late start, and in fact there were almost no pipe organs in the entire country until after the 1840s. Of the three composers represented here, Raitio passed away in 1945 and the other two in the early ‘60s. The Maasalo Sonata and both Granlund works receive their world premiere recordings here.
The biggest work is the closing three-movement organ sonata in a grand late-Romantic style by John Granlund. It is a many-faceted work with a killer of a final movement running over nine minutes length and with six tempo changes. The other work on the disc which stood out for me was Raitio’s Legenda, which seems to fit right into the French Organ School with its often Impressionistic symphonic style, though Raitio – like most of the Finnish composers – studied in Germany. Maasalo was an exception in having studied in France, and he created the first significant Finnish organ works – including the opening Theme and Variations, which was one of the very few virtuoso organ works to come out of Finland prior to WWII.
Alba’s 5.0-channel surround sonics are first rate, and the dynamic range is greater than heard on many organ recordings.
— John Sunier
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