Complete Organ Music: Intrada, Op. 111a; Mournful Music, Op. 111b; Two Serious Melodies, Op. 77;* Masonic Ritual Music, Op. 113; Preludium; Postludium; Impromptu; ‘Song of my Heart’, Op. 18, No. 6; Valse triste, Op. 44; Finlandia, Op. 26
Kalevi Kivimieni (organ); *Laura Hynninen (harp), Marko Ylönen (cello)
Intrada: music by Alain, anon., Antico, Bach, Brahms, Guilain, Kivimieni, Morancon, Pachelbel, Reincken, Sallinen, Sibelius and Vivaldi
Kalevi Kivimieni (organ)
Hardly anybody thinks of Sibelius as an organ composer, and yet his natural mode of composition suited the organ perfectly: he thought from the bass upwards, and that’s the way the best organ music works. But Sibelius was the anti-virtuoso composer par excellence, to the point where he revised his Violin Concerto – intended, of course for his own instrument, the violin – to make it less virtuosic. That kind of composer isn’t going to go in for the flashy keyboard fireworks that keep pieces like Widor’s Toccata alive.
As a result, Sibelius’ organ music is completely undemonstrative but enormously powerful even when it not making a grand statement. Kalevi Kiviniemi usefully corrals all of it onto a single CD with this new release – but he has been here before, releasing what was also billed as the complete organ music on Fuga 9182 in 2004. Some of that recording is repackaged here, and other tracks added, explaining the presence of four different organs.
On the earlier release, too, Kiviniemi needed to add some arrangements to fill out the CD: there simply isn’t enough original Sibelius organ (or harmonium) music. That’s why the concluding work here, Finlandia, is so out of character: it makes a rousing conclusion but it’s not how Sibelius approached the instrument.
The other CD here may look like a picture-postcard kind of offering: it was recorded on the organ in the church next to the house in Hämeenlinna in which Sibelius grew up – not that Sibelius would have heard it: this organ was completed in 2003. But the programme contains something valuable: the first recording of Aulis Sallinen’s Preludes and Fugues, Op. 95b, written for accordion in 2009 and transcribed for organ three years later. It’s an eleven-minute polyphonic fantasy which nods to the Baroque – a nephew of Carl Nielsen’s Commotio.