Nielsen: Organ & Clarinet - Ruslan Schmelkov, Egor Kolesov

Nielsen: Organ & Clarinet - Ruslan Schmelkov, Egor Kolesov

Base2 Music  B2M-08

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber

Carl Nielsen, Sergei Rachmaninov, Jean Sibelius, Flor Peeters, Julien Bret, Charles Balayer, Kjell Karlsen, Arvo Pärt, Dmitri Shostakovich

Ruslan Schmelkov (clarinet)
Egor Kolesov (organ)
Jean-Paul Imbert (organ)

Music of Carl Nielsen - "Organ and Clarinet" are a brilliant young Russian duo - Clarinetist Ruslan Schmelkov and Organist Egor Kolesov. Here is their SACD in high definition audio and Surround sound produced by Jake Purches of Base2 Music, with guest organist Jean-Paul Imbert who contributes with Egor Kolesov in the '4 hands' with two fresh tunes from contemporary composers. The main theme is two major works by Danish legend Carl Nielsen, his Clarinet concerto, op.57 and 'Commotio', op. 58 for organ. The disc is filled in with classics from Shostakovich, Sibelius, Rachmaninov, Avro Part and others. A feast of sonic delights from the Kleuker 'Hand of God' organ in the church of Notre-Dame des Neiges, in the french Alps. In Stereo CD audio, Stereo DSD and 5.1 surround sound (True Surround).

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Reviews (1)

Review by Adrian Quanjer - January 25, 2021

As we established in previous releases, Jake Purches knows how to engineer and record a church pipe organ, no matter what type, no matter what size. This time, he goes one step further by pairing the organ with a clarinet. Organ and trumpet are a common combination, but with a clarinet a lot less so. As far as I know, only a few CD recordings exist, and none in Super Audio. Difficult to pair? Not if you listen to this one.

For this recording, two outstanding Russian musicians, Ruslan Schmelkov, a clarinettist from Moscow and Egor Kolesov, an organist from Saint Petersburg, since 2016 performing together under the name of “Clarinet & Organ”, were invited to come to France, and more in particular to the musical home of Jean-Paul Imbert (the soloist in two previous releases), titular organist of the unique Detlef Kleuker church pipe organ of Notre Dame des Neiges in l’Alpe d’Huez.

The varied programme is built around two major works of the Danish composer, Carl Nielsen: The concerto for clarinet and orchestra, in a transcription for clarinet and organ, and the Commotio for Organ Op. 58 for organ solo. The rest is made up of known and mostly unknown works of 20th Century composers, beginning with one of the most uplifting pieces ever been written by Dmitri Shostakovich, the second waltz of his Jazz suite, (maybe not planned, but setting a more than welcome tone in the ‘bluest’ month of the year during a pandemic of exceptional global impact!), played with soft hues, and stimulating sonorities of both organ and clarinet. By the sound and the mastery of it, possibly one of the ensemble’s top favourites. This is followed by a similarly played, divine Vocalise.

One of the advantages of a varied programme is that it offers something for different tastes. By the same token, it may not offer everything for all tastes. Though some SACD players have a programming function, allowing for personalized choices, I would urge everyone to listen at least once to the whole of the concert, as it features some amazing and, as the liner notes say “The light atmosphere of Parisian life”, modern French compositions: The jazzy ‘Bach Chat’ of Charles Belayar, and ‘Sonata Parisienne’, by Julien Bret, where Imbert joins Egor Kolosov, thus adding a French touch to the programme. Apart from barely noticeable untidiness is the faster passages, the four hands deliver some charming moments.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have here two major Russian talents at work, with schmelkov showing his true colours in Nielsen’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra. His musical competence finds expression in navigating with impressive virtuosity and tonal control through the complexities of the demanding score. The orchestral parts having been transcribed for organ by Kolesov, allows the organist to cleverly manage from the console, like a conductor would, the invigorating impetus for maintaining a perfect balance between ‘orchestra’ and soloist.

Also included are the works of a contemporary Danish composer, Kjell Mørk Karlsen, ‘Partita Brevis’, written for Organ and Clarinet, as well as Flor Peeters’ ’Toccata in D major’, for the performance of which ‘host’ Jean-Paul Imbert takes care. And then there is the always popular ‘Valse Triste’ by Sibelius, transcribed for clarinet and organ. Surround listeners will regret that due to space constraints (total time of the programme is 85:48 minutes!), the Valse Triste, can only be played in stereo (and on the CD layer). However, the quality of the recording is such that a pseudo surround can be imagined. (Jake informs me that it is available as a free surround, plus an extra track, in FLAC format, available to download from Arvo Pärt’s ‘Pari Intervallo’ for solo organ brings everything to a satisfactory close.

In conclusion: A brilliant selection, brilliantly played and … brilliantly recorded. Thanks, Egor, Ruslan, Jean-Paul, Jake, and, for the 5.1 surround mastering, Bastiaan.

Do read the booklet!

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2021 Adrian Quanjer and


Sonics (Stereo):

Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comments (3)

Comment by BRIAN SMITH - January 25, 2021 (1 of 3)

Does this mean that the entire disc can only be played in stereo, or that most selections are multi-channel and that only some selections are available in stereo?

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - January 25, 2021 (2 of 3)

Sorry for the misunderstanding. Only Sibelius' Valse Triste did not fit on the surround layer due to space constraints. All the rest does, and in glorious surround!. But I understand that it can be downloaded in surround from the Base2 Music site/shop. Moreover, the whole programme can be played in SACD stereo or good old fashioned CD.

Comment by Jake Purches - January 31, 2021 (3 of 3)

Hi - Jake Purches here, producer of the SACD 'Organ and Clarinet'. Yes its a little unorthodox, but we ultimately had too much programme material by a few minutes to fit on the SACD layers. One of the quirks of CD Audio red book is that it can be pushed to as much as 90 minutes, because Sony will allow a finer pitch, and the PCM track is a linear spiral. But the SACD layer is is 4.8 gb DVD format, and its sectored and mapped out, and cannot be changed. Because the Super Audio Surround DSD has 6 tracks and the Stereo DSD has 2 tracks it was impossible to fit the entire programme material on all the 3 formats. The CD runs to 85 minutes, the Stereo DSD SACD can also run to 85 minutes but to do the same with the multi-channel meant loosing the subwoofer track, which is a hallmark of our discs. So I took the decision to remove the Sibelius track from the multichannel layer. We are recording organs after all, and very few loudspeakers, except for the biggest, can reach 32 hz, let alone 16 Hz. This is why we view the subwoofer track to be essential. As the review says, for those who really want this track in surround, it can be bought for £3 on our shop page plus a bonus track not available on the SACD/CD.