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Espoon tuomiokirkon urut - Petri Koivusalo

Espoon tuomiokirkon urut - Petri Koivusalo

Fuga  FUGA-9292

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Espoon tuomiokirkon urut (The Organ of Espoo Cathedral)

Petri Koivusalo (organ)

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A true 5.0-multichannel recording, editing and mastering: Mika Koivusalo.
SACD mastering: DER/Esa Santonen
Reviews (1)
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Review by John Miller - February 23, 2010

The Finnish city of Espoo lies on the western outskirts of the greater metropolitan area of Helsinki. Its modestly-sized parish church dates back to the 1480's, and it only gained cathedral status in 2004 when it became a See of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland. The organ featured here is its third, installed in 1967 and augmented somewhat in 1989. Its composition is that of the neoclassical style of the Danish organ reform movement, with 38 stops. Now that the church has cathedral status, a new organ is to be built over the next few years, while the present one (which is probably being dismantled as I write in February 2010) is moving to northern Finland.

Petri Koivusalo trained at the Sibelius Academy and is the present organist and music director at Espoo cathedral. This recording took place shortly before the organ's removal, and is a farewell tribute from Koivusalo. His programme demonstrates that a relatively modestly accoutred instrument can be very versatile, not only in its sacred purpose for services, weddings and funerals, but also for concert music. Here are the tracks:

Bach, JS, (1685 - 1750), Concerto in G after Johann Ernst, BWV 592
Bach, JS Orgel-Büchlein Part 1, BWV 622, Chorale Prelude "O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross"
Bach, JS Orgel-Büchlein Part 1, BWV 617, Chorale Prelude "Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf"
Salonen, Sulo, (1899 - 1976), Partita “Sen suven suloisuutta”
Kokkonen, Joonas, (1921 - 1996), Lux aeterna
Lindberg, Oskar Fredrik, (1887 - 1955), Old Folk-Chorale from Dalarna
Merikanto, Frans Oskar, (1868 - 1924), Wedding Hymn
Rheinberger, Joseph Gabriel, (1839 - 1901), Cantilene (Sonata in d minor, Op 148, II)
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, (1809 - 1847) Organ Sonata, Op 65 No 3
Vierne, Louis, (1870 - 1937), Pièces de fantaisie, Op 53/5, Clair de lune
Vierne, Louis, Pièces de fantaisie, Op 54/6, Carillon de Westminster

This is a most attractive programme, introduced by a bright and cheerful piece of transcribed 'Baroquery' from Bach, followed by a pensive pair of his Chorale Preludes. Rarely-recorded Finnish and Swedish pieces are next grouped; Sulo Salonen's splendid Partita 'The loveliness of the Summer' has a sunny, placid flow of melody followed by five variations which glow in many tone colours, culminating in a final magnificent one with full organ. Joonas Kokkenen's 'Lux aeterna' takes a hymn tune from his only opera, adds a more agitated theme and develops them to a blazing climax. Swedish composer Oskar Lindberg reminisces on a placid country chorale from his home province, and Merikanto (the first Finnish organist of International stature) composed the impressive' Wedding Hymn', with its billowing accompaniment, for a famous opera singer's nuptials.

Moving to the German organ schools, Rheinberger's wonderful, winding melody over a pianissimo wide-stepping pedal line is optimistic in tone, slipping through many modulations until eventually arriving in the home key. Mendelssohn was also a fine organist; his Organ Sonatas pay homage to Bach, and their relative asceticism is an ideal subject for the Espoo organ.

Finally, to the French schools, and the eclectic Vierne. His slowly-moving 'Clair de Lune' requires the organist to spin unbroken melody lines and sustain legato accompaniments for the duration of the piece, hypnotically accomplished by Koivusalo. For the real finale, Vierne's 'Westminster Chimes' is an iconic organ piece. This atmospheric rhapsody on the chimes of London's Big Ben, known all over the world, was dedicated to Father Willis, the great English C19th organ builder. It was designed for a Cavaille-Coll organ (or a giant Willis), but to hear it so well-performed on the Espoo organ is a revelation. The clarity of the organ's setting in an intimate acoustic, without the blurring resonance of huge cathedral buildings, reveals all the work's colouristic detail without in any way pulling the punches for its final peroration.

Clearly Petri Koivusalo's deep knowledge of the organ has allowed him to show its relatively modest equipment in best light. His playing is stylistically empathic, with superbly chosen and balanced registrations. Never striving for effect, he lets the music unfold naturally, with sensitive inflection.

Petri's brother, engineer Mika Koivusalo, is a past-master at recording organ music. This is one of those discs where as soon as the first note sounds in a multi-channel system, you know exactly what size of building you are in, where you are seated, how far away the organ is and just where each of its tonal divisions are. An utterly realistic experience, with extended bass so that sound from even 16' pipes at pianissimo is both felt as well as heard.

Adding to the sense of occasion, the handsome booklet was designed by brother Mika, who also produced many of the superb exterior and interior photographs of the Espoo church (especially noteworthy are the original C15th wall paintings). Petri Koivusalo's notes are lucid and informative, and there is a full specification of the (now former) Espoo organ.

This is a most engaging and unusual organ recital on several counts. It offers great, lasting listening pleasure, bristling as it does with fine musicianship and technical recording prowess. Enthusiastically recommended.

Copyright © 2010 John Miller and HRAudio.net

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