WORKS: Commotio; Three Tone Pieces; Präludium, Intermezzo & Fugato; Partita concertante
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5468 DDD
At first glance, to base a whole disc around the concept of ‘a century of Danish organ music’ might seem like musical straitjacketing and commercial suicide for any record company. Fortunately, Nimbus is noted for its enterprise and has, in Kevin Bowyer, an intuitive and musically aware programme-builder.
There is a rich, imaginative diversity of styles in evidence here, from the Mendelssohn-inspired harmonic idiom which colours the Three Tone Pieces by Niels Gade, to the esoteric, angular style of the Partita concertante by Per Nørgård, written in 1960. Bowyer plays on the fine four-manual Marcussen organ of Odense Cathedral, an instrument on which he records regularly, and which offers him a kaleidoscopic range of colours which he employs to great advantage.
Vivid, starkly contrasting textures form the musical backbone of the Nørgård and are wonderfully realised by Bowyer, juxtaposing gruff-sounding reeds of the organ with quiet, almost apologetic, flute choruses. The Gade pieces are by no means great music, and are given rather opaque, unyielding performances by Bowyer. Less turgid organ colours would have given the music a lightness of texture which I think it needs.
The best-known piece on the disc is Nielsen’s Commotio, and this is given a spellbinding reading by Bowyer. He achieves a great sense of forward momentum throughout the piece by means of taut rhythmic control and smoothly flowing transitions from one section to another. A captivating performance. Stephen Haylett