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Brilliant Classics

Boellmann/ Der Steen - Organ Music

Boellmann/ Der Steen - Organ Music

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While no organist's music bench would be respectable without dog-eared copies of the Suite gothique (especially it's concluding, Toccata, no mere knock-off of Widor's showier counterpart) and C minor Toccata, there are vanishingly few albums dedicated to the organ music of Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897), making this Brilliant Classics reissue of Piet van der Steen's album all the more enticing a proposition to organ buffs. A short-lived contemporary of Louis Vierne, Boëllmann composed in most classical genres, notably chamber music, but it is his output for organ that has assured him immortality, for it's hand-in-glove harmony with the instruments of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll that represented the high-point of French organ building in the Gothic style, never knowingly underequipped. Boëllmann wrote accordingly, to take advantage of the new French organs with their prodigious array of registral colours and dynamic variation. Beyond the imperishable but ubiquitous Suite Gothique, the album offers discoveries galore, in the pomp and circumstance of the little-known Fantaisie, the perfumed refinements of the selection from his liturgically focused Heures mystiques, the quietradiance of the G major Offertoire and the ingenious Carillon from the Douze pièces. The 'Prelude pastoral' opening the Deuxième Suite is a real charmer, and deserves to stimulate a Boëllmann renaissance along with much else here. It was recorded in 1977 by Piet van der Steen along with most of the shorter pieces on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Augustinuskerk in Amsterdam (first issued as an LP by the Cantilena label), whereas the Suite Gothique and Heures Mystiques excerpts date from 2002, on the Schyven organ of the Church of Ss Peter and Paul in Oostend.

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