This original program brings together composers from 4 centuries: from Kerll, Couperin, Buxtehude and the
monumental Passacaglia in C minor by J.S. Bach, far into the 20-th century with Reger, Shostakovich and Jan Welmers.
Consisting of variations framed in a constantly repeated basso ostinato, the passacaglia is a musical form with a long and fruitful history. This release is dedicated to eight such examples which, taken from four countries and all performed on the organ, divide either side of the year 1800 to reveal the form’s extensive and inventive development over time.
The passacaglia was particularly popular during the 17th century, when it became known for its limited range of keys, slow triple meter and short, simple theme of two or four bars. While Couperin’s use of elaborate ornamentation and rondo structure equate to a typically French rendition of the form, the leaps in Buxtehude’s theme create bolder expression and are also prominent in J.S. Bach’s C minor Passacaglia – a summit in western classical music, whose influence can be felt in this compilation’s remaining post-1800 works. From Mendelssohn’s unabashed homage, distinguished by its unusual 4/4 time signature, to Reger’s similarly Romantic appraisal of 17th-century contrapuntal techniques, the collection also showcases Shostakovich’s highly dramatic working of the form – whose complex harmonic explorations are pushed to shattering point in Welmer’s 1965 atonal composition.
Though the passacaglia is by no means limited to the organ, this compilation demonstrates just how well the instrument’s sustainable tone and majestic qualities suit the form. Matthias Havinga delivers an authoritative reading, full of colour and timbral invention.
- New recording, including extensive liner notes and information on the instrument.
- Recorded on the magnificent Martti Pothan organ Kotka Church in Sweden, by young virtuoso Matthias Havinga, whose earlier recording on this organ (Brilliant Classics 94203) with Italian Concertos by J.S. Bach received enthusiastic reviews in the press.