The Organ


Carlo Curley, at the Peter Collins-Allen Organ, Trn, Sweden
SOCD 001

The new Peter Collins/Allen organ in Trn, Sweden, has caused a considerable amount of controversy already within the organ world and involving Carlo Curley in the first recording is equally challenging, given the very mixed opinions there are of his approach to public performance! The organ is a combination of pipe and digital work, which has been skilfully balanced to provide a seamless sound, with ten pipe registers and the rest digitally realised, within an impressive if conventional oak case.

There will be an extended feature on the new instrument in the next edition but for the moment all we have to comment on is the recording itself. The irony here is of course is that what I am listening to is electronically produced! It is impossible to tell simply by listening which sounds are pipe and which digital, and that has to be the first and most telling point. I challenge anyone to differentiate on the basis of this recording, what is open to comment is the musicality of the performances and the sense of enjoyment they provoke.

I have never been very enamoured of Carlo Curley's approach to Bach and the opening of the Great B minor Prelude is not as rhythmically tight as I would like but the Fugue works well as does the more reflective performance of the Choral Prelude BWV 622. Carlo Curley has deliberately included a wide range of pieces to demonstrate not only the clean North German sound essential to support the Swedish Lutheran liturgy but the more romantic textures which will enable the instrument to be used for recital purposes across a wide range of music.

The Franck Fantasie in A is very impressive as is Bossi's delicate Chant du Soir. While most pieces are familiar it is good to see the inclusion of Langlais' Chant de Paix where gentle solo voices and clouded textures are skilfully created. Dupr's Cortge et Litanie explores a wide range of voices and builds to an impressive climax. There is always the sense that the organ has more to give than it is being asked for.

The disc concludes with a virtuoso performance of Gigout's Toccata - a combination of tight articulation, keen rhythmic bite and splendid textures. Musically there is nothing about which one could complain here. Criticism of any instrument should start at the point of the music it makes, not how that music is made. On the evidence of this CD, the instrument comes through with flying colours!