Eben: Organ Works, Vol. 3: Hommage à Henry Purcell; Ten Chorale Preludes; Momenti d’organo; Kleine Choralpartita; Versetti; Due preludi festivi per organo; Mutationes for One or Two Organs

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COMPOSERS: Eben
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 3: Hommage à Henry Purcell; Ten Chorale Preludes; Momenti d’organo; Kleine Choralpartita; Versetti; Due preludi festivi per organo; Mutationes for One or Two Organs
PERFORMER: Halgeir Schiager, Kåre Nordstoga (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67196
Petr Eben has carved out a distinctive niche for himself in contemporary organ music, combining French colourism and Protestant earnestness. This disc gives us a collection of mainly small-scale pieces played with diligent sure-footedness by the Norwegian organist Halgeir Schiager.

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Given the short energy bursts (the average length of tracks is 1:30 mins), this disc is quite a lot to take at one sitting. Each track gives a pipette-drop of concentrated thought, highly chromatic and individual. It is music that repays familiarity, however, and the wit of the now septuagenarian Eben is well worth investigating. The Hommage à Henry Purcell gives a selection of Purcell’s raunchier tunes embedded in Eben’s sparkling and often bitonal style. The Ten Chorale Preludes, based on Bohemian hymns, are little gems of contemplation. The organ is a 1998 Ryde & Berg, a firm about whom we should undoubtedly hear more, for the colours are clear and vibrant, and suit the music down to the ground. Kåre Nordstoga gives a superb cameo as the second organist in the duo Mutationes, almost beating the star-billing by his incisive rhythmic drive, and subtle playing on the cathedral’s acoustic. Hyperion rises to its usual excellence of sound. William Whitehead