Review by Lute January 28, 2015 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
|I was curious about the 2 "modern" passacaglias on this disk. And, with some meisterwerke of Buxtehude and J.S. Bach thrown in with the deal, how could I resist!
Kari Vuola gives fine accounts of the justly famous Preludes of Buxtehude and Bach. His playing is not as intense or flamboyant as some, but I like the way he allows the music to naturally unfold and reveal its beauty and power. The organ of the Naantali Convent Church in Finland is well suited for these Baroque works as well as the contrasting modern works. It was also used by Kari Vuola on Bach: Organ Works - Vuola. Please see Geohominid's review of that recording for a detailed description of this organ.
Vuola is equally at home with the more recently composed passacaglias and other works, which certainly provide a contrast to the baroque pieces. One might call these pieces "studies" in their respective forms. Some of them are first attempts at organ music. But, I am happy to say that they are solid efforts and worthy additions to the repertoire. I found myself drawn into their world.
Hämeenniemi's Passacaglia (2004) is, according to the composer, a tribute to another baroque master, Henry Purcell. The slow steady bass line builds and shifts in stages while melodies wandering and winding their way in the upper registers provide counterpoint.
Entitled "Reunion Confirmed" (2004), Kaipainen's passacaglia is an attractive piece, providing dynamic shades of light and dark. The main theme comes from a reworking of two themes from his music play "Hämäränmaasa". It steadily builds with intensity until finding release in a tranquil coda.
Sallinen's Chaconne from 1970 is an atonal set of variations. It's a meditative piece. I love how the chords at the end repeat, possibly representing the horns of streamer ships calling out as they travel in the distance sea.
The darkest and most intense piece is the Ciaconna (2010) by Kortekangas, who has dedicated quite a lot of his efforts to organ music. It also is a set of variations, whose progression is powerful and moving. I found it to be the most intriguing work amongst the newer pieces here. Perhaps these contemporary pieces will need time to become established, but I found them stimulating expressions of these traditional forms of music for pipe organ.
Providing the right amount of ambience, Alba's recording is first class in both stereo and multichannel.
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