JOHAN KVANDAL (1919-1999): 3 Christmas Hymns, Benedicam Dominum, Op. 17, O Domine Deus, Op. 26/2, Partita on the Folksong “How Good to Find a Refuge”for Organ, Op. 36, 2 Religious Songs, Chorale Prelude on “O’’er the Land the Dawn is Breaking for Organ, Fantasia for Organ, Op. 83.

Catalogue Number: 12W045

Label: LAWO Classics

Reference: LWC1203

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: A rewarding survey of the output of a natural, fluent church composer and organist. We've sampled his attractive, folk-influenced secular music before (03V050, 09T007, 12S058 et al), but religious music was his real forte. The early works here, from the 1950s, are beautifully crafted, elegant and restrained, increasingly exhibiting a fresh and original harmonic touch within the tonal language that he never abandoned; the Christmas Songs are gentle, in a Lieder style, though in the Psalm setting from a decade later, an interesting development may be observed; a highly expressive, almost operatic approach, intriguingly removed from liturgical chasteness. This is amply confirmed by the harmonically bold, vocally dramatic miniature cantata to Psalm texts and the setting of Mary Stuart’s prayer from prison, from 1966. The Partita is a set of inventive variations on a traditional hymn tune. Unexpected harmonic turns, applied with great skill, spice up the tonal idiom; the composer is especially fond of following the forms and conventions of baroque movements but subtly subverting the harmonies in a modern, but always tonal, idiom. The splendid Fantasia was one of Kvandal's final works, and it sounds like a summary of a life's work, inventive, effortlessly transitioning between episodes that retain conventional organ figuration but sound wholly original. Norwegian-English texts. Lina Johnson (soprano), Arnfinn Tobiassen (organ).

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