Sibelius Hall Organ - Sibeliustalon urut

Sibelius Hall Organ - Sibeliustalon urut

Fuga  FUGA-9339

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental

Jean Sibelius: Intrada, op. 111a
Joseph Rheinberger: Passacaglia, op. 132/8
Richard Wagner: Elsas Brautzug zum Münster (Lohengrin), arr. K. Kiviniemi
César Franck: Pièce héroïque
Marcel Dupré: Antiphon, op. 18/3
Kalevi Kiviniemi: Suite (2011) World Premiere Recording
Alexander Scriabin: Prelude, op. 74/3
Gordon Young: Three Pieces
Franz Liszt: Konzert-Etude Nr. 3 Des-Dur “Un sospiro”, arr. K. Kiviniemi
Kalevi Kiviniemi: Improvisation - Variations on La Follia

Kalevi Kiviniemi, organ

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A true 5.0 multichannel & stereo recording, editing and mastering: Mika Koivusalo.
Recorded at Sibelius Hall, Lahti, Finland, 5.-9. of March 2012.
Reviews (1)

Review by John Miller - November 7, 2012

The city of Lahti, NNE of Helsinki in Finland, has a long musical tradition, and has also been an excellent home for recording orchestral music. In 2000 a new congress and concert centre was opened, with the Sibelius Concert Hall at its heart. Space for a 52 stop organ was left in the main hall, and an appeal opened for funds to build an organ to occupy it. One was finally installed in 2007, and lies behind the splendor of a minimalist flat timber casing with a striking array of pipes. This can seen in several excellent colour photos in the booklet, showing that, unusually, as well as the traditional array of non-speaking metal pipes, the casement's flanks are occupied by some of the large rectangular wooden pipes, made from handsome Nordic pine. An inspired double page photo taken from the floor level of the empty orchestra platform looks towards the organ and gives a very good impression of its relationship with the hall's space.

The organ was built by a Swedish company, Grönlunds Orgelbyggen AB, in the French Romantic style and has three keyboards (Grand Orgue, Positif expressif, Récit expressif) and a pedal board, the latter having 11 registers or stops, including two at 32'. There is also a set of Effect Registers, some of which can be heard on this disc, comprising birdsong, cymbelstern (rotating wooden discs or stars with small bells attached), tromba (two 8 foot pipes tuned slightly apart from each other), xylophone and wind machine (!). Close-up photos of the keyboard (some with Kiviniemi at work) show us details of the manuals and ranks of stops, couplers and pedals.

As one of Finland's most important International organists, Kalevi Kiviniemi joined two of his colleagues to play at the Inaugural Concert of the new organ in 2007. He has now returned to make a solo recording of many of his favourite pieces, especially those which play to the organ's French Romantic orientation. Kiviniemi is a master at compiling concert programmes, and this one shows off the organ's (and his own) capabilities with this impressive and sometimes challenging fare.

A natural and appropriate beginning piece is the Intrada Op.111a by Sibelius, written for for the Swedish Royal visit to Finland in 1925. Kiviniemi uses the composer's manuscript for this. A vivid paean of surprisingly "modern" harmonic progressions proclaims a monumentally grand welcome to those entering the building; brilliantly played by Kiviniemi, who was the first to record the composer's complete organ works. The ceremonial entry over, Rheinberger's Passacaglia from his Organ Sonata No. 8 shows much lyrical inventiveness in exploiting the organ's rich colours in building ever more complex textures over an 11 bar repeating bass. Wagner's music transfers to the organ with variable success, but Kiviniemi's arrangement of Elsa's Bridal Procession from Lohengrin certainly captures the grandeur of the approach to the wedding location. You can hear the organ's high pressure 8-foot reed stop called Tuba Mirabilis, which has its own blower (this powerful reed is also used in Kiviniemi's improvisation at the end of the disc). The couple's love is suggested using quite a lot of tremolo which tends to lend a sentimental tone just short of being soupy; I wondered how much Kiviniemi wrote and played this with tongue in cheek.

Next comes one of the pioneer examples of French Romantic organ playing, César Franck's Pièce Héroique, one of Kiviniemi's favourite war horses, which he plays with noble effect. After this richly registered feast, Dupré's Antiphon provides a few minutes of peaceful contemplation. Peace is once more shattered by a world première of Kiviniemis' Suite (2011), which attempts in three movements to depict an apocalyptic view of the world. Fire and Sky (filled with Debussian drifting clouds) are envisaged, and in the third movement chaos arrives with a crude, limping march, massive full organ dissonant chords and downward-swooping glissandi. All finally comes to a disastrous, terrifying halt. Certainly this is an imaginative use of the huge Sibelius organ with sound effects that only an artist with great knowledge and flawless technique could envision and reproduce for our consumption.

A transcript of Scriabin's Prelude Op 74,3 opens another disturbing world to us, but American organist/composer Gordon Young (1919-1998) brings us back with his Three Pieces. A Cortège or solemn procession precedes a lovely Elegie with gentle solo stops in canonic dialogue in remembrance of the departed, the cymbelstern effect suggesting childhood's toys. Turning away from tragedy, the work ends with a Divertissement, joyous, virtuosic and toccata-like. Next is Kiviniemi's masterly arrangement of Liszt's Concert-Study no. 3 in D flat major 'Un Sospiro' (a sigh). This is played as High Romanticism, the cantabile melody floating above billowing arpeggios, at times interrupted by expressive and highly decorative cadenzas: several specifically organ-like ones added by Kiviniemi make one wonder if the composer would be spinning in his priestly cell, or laughing at the Finnish organist's audacity!

Finally Kiviniemi demonstrates what was once a practice expected of all organists, that of spontaneous improvisation, now a much rarer art. Taking the old tune of La Folia, which has had more variations based on it than any other, he lets loose a dazzling set of variations which explore every nook and cranny of the Sibelius Hall Organ, garnished with such delights as crickets chirping and the unusual experience of a trill added to a 32' pedal stop by using the feet to rapidly alternate the lowest pedal notes.

Mika Koivusalo's impeccable 5.0 recording misses nothing of this remarkable recital, bringing us every detailed nuance of the organ within the timber-clad Sibelius Hall's subtle ambience with breathtaking realism. Both stereo and multichannel tracks clearly place each organ division's position across the sound stage, and the recording takes the huge dynamic range of Kiviniemi's registrations with aplomb.

Fuga's attractive booklet has notes mainly in Finnish, but there is a good English summary of the material about the music, and the excellent colour photography gives us a personal sense of place without actually being present.

A very high-quality presentation of Kiviniemi's unique and charismatic art, faithfully summoning a portrait of the magnificent Sibelius Hall organ. This is the sort of musical and technical partnership which hopefully Fuga will continue to present at this high standard.

Copyright © 2012 John Miller and


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