EGIL HOVLAND (1924-2013): Choral Partita No. 1 - 6 Variations on “Gjør døren høy, gjør porten vid”, Op. 7, Elementa pro Organo, Op. 52, 4 Chorales (Vol. 4), 4 Interludes from Missa Vigilate, Op. 67, 4 Shorter Compositions, Op. 135, Chorale Partita No. 8 on “Guds kyrkjefolk, syng”, Op. 159.
Catalogue Number: 08R061
Label: LAWO Classics
Description: Hovland was active as a church musician throughout his career, so he knew exactly what he was about in writing for the organ. His output traversed strikingly different stages, from the skillful adoption of the principles of Baroque polyphony in the conservative, but very fine, 1947 Chorale Partita, variations on the chorale known to English speakers as Old Hundredth, to the radical modernism of Elements from the mid-1960s, the least of which is its twelve-note theme and some Messiaenic harmonies. The piece also features glissando effects produced by interfering with the flow of air to the pipes, some 'preparation' of the organ to hold sustained chords, a degree of free notation, and huge clusters reminiscent of Ligeti. The Four Interludes were part of a controversial modern mass from the late 1960s, and are undeniably modernist in idiom with some sustained (but subtly beautiful) discords alongside allusions to plainchant, while lacking the extravagant modernist gestures of Elements. Around 1970 Hovland abruptly turned away from any suggestion of avant-gardism and adopted a style that he referred to with tongue in cheek as 'neo-friendly'. The Chorales reflect this, with echoes of Bach and 19th-century French organ music. The four pieces span some decades, but all are tonal and neoclassical or neo-romantic, gentle devotional pieces, while the 1998 Chorale Partita consists of five variations, passacaglia and toccata on a folk tune used as a hymn, in a less polyphonic, more harmonically romantic style than the pre-modernist tonal works. Anders Eidsten Dahl (organ of Bragernes Church, Drammen, Norway). Original 1993 release.