In his organ works, Egil Hovland took the pulse of his age as he broke new ground. This can also be said of his orchestral, choral, and chamber music, which he composed in abundance. The selections on this album reflect his intense development from a neoclassical enthusiasm for Baroque to radical modernism, and then to what Hovland himself called an about-turn. He told university students in 1974: “Towards the 1970s I reverted to a Romantic or neo-friendly style.”
CHORALE PARTITA NO. 1. SIX VARIATIONS ON GJØR DØREN HØY, GJØR PORTEN VID
OPUS 7 (1947)
When Egil Hovland completed his organ studies in 1948, he had already composed his first partita, a piece clearly influenced by his teacher, Per Steenberg (1870-1947).
In his composition course, vocal polyphony, Steenberg had ascetic ideals represented most importantly by Palestrina and Renaissance polyphony. This purified, refined style became an ideal for many young composers such as Hovland, Conrad Baden, and Knut Nystedt.
Steenberg left behind the manuscript of an alternative hymnal in which he had omitted close to one hundred hymns because they were superfluous, less effective, and even inadequate in a religious or musical context. It was published by his students in 1949.
The variations on Gjør døren høy bear the influence of Steenberg’s conservative style, whereby the composition of a chorale must follow all the rules of Renaissance and Baroque polyphony. The work received such a positive reception that it was performed in Copenhagen in 1947 at the Festival Week of Nordic Music Students.
Total time: 01:16:50
|Original Recording Format|
Bragernes Church, Drammen Norway
|Release Date||June 27, 2015|
“This is a fine recording and performance. Although this is only a 5.0 channel disc, with no discrete bass channel, the low end is prodigious. The works offered are technically difficult, and Dahl is a capable organist who sails through the difficult arpeggios and dense pedal notes. The dynamic range on the disc is very high. You may find yourself adjusting levels to bring up the quiet parts, and bolting for your remote when the triple forte’s appear.
I found this disc a good listen, and a nice introduction to a composer who was not on my radar.”
“Egil Hovland (1924-2013) was one of Norway’s most prolific composers, and sometimes a controversial one for several reasons. Lawo Classics and organist Anders Eidsten Dahl present here a well-filled disc (76:59) of Hovland’s organ music, demonstrating his musical development during a lengthy period as the organist and choir leader in Fredrikstad Church, south-west Norway, a tenure which he held from 1949 until his death.
Lawo’s engineering places the organ well in the reverberant air of Bragernes Church, but close enough not to lose fine details and timbres, particularly in the colorful ‘Elementa’,which produces many sounds not normally found on organs. 5.0 multichannel is the best, but even then, stereo shows something of the lateral spread of the organ pipes.
All together, this program, one of few recordings of Hovland’s organ works, provides a well-balanced and insightful assessment of one of Norway’s most popular composers. Very well recorded and presented, with good information about the musical contexts in Norwegian and English, this is a fine contribution to the organ’s discography. Highly recommended. 5-Stars for Performance, Stereo and Multichannel sonics.”
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