Notes and Editorial Reviews
• The Passacaglia is a musical form based on a repeated bass line over which variations are composed.The form was popular during the 17th century but proved to be a challenge in its
structural restrictions for composers of later periods, continuously renewing and extending the form, while keeping
to its basic formula.
• This original program brings together composers from 4 centuries: from Kerll, Couperin, Buxtehude and the monumental Passacaglia in C minor by J.S. Bach, far into the 20-th century with Reger, Shostakovich and Jan Welmers.
• Recorded on the magnificent Martti Pothan organ Kotka Church in Sweden, by young virtuoso Matthias Havinga, whose earlier recording on this organ (Brilliant Classics 94203) with Italian
Concertos by J.S. Bach received enthusiastic reviews in the press.
• New recording, including extensive liner notes and information on the instrument.
Consisting of variations framed in a constantly repeated basso ostinato, the passacaglia is a musical form with a long and fruitful history.This release is dedicated to eight such examples which, taken from four countries and all performed on the organ, divide either side of the year 1800 to reveal the form’s extensive and inventive development over time.
The passacaglia was particularly popular during the 17th century, when it became known for its limited range of keys, slow triple meter and short, simple theme of two or four bars. While Couperin’s use of ela- borate ornamentation and rondo structure equate to a typically French rendition of the form, the leaps in Buxtehude’s theme create bolder expression and are also prominent in J.S. Bach’s C minor Passacaglia – a summit in western classical music, whose influence can be felt in this compilation’s remaining post-1800 works. From Mendelssohn’s unabashed homage, distinguished by its unusual 4/4 time signature, to Reger’s similarly Romantic appraisal of 17th-century contrapuntal techniques, the collection also showcases Shostakovich’s highly dramatic working of the form – whose complex harmonic explorations are pushed to shattering point in Welmer’s 1965 atonal composition.
Though the passacaglia is by no means limited to the organ, this compilation demonstrates just how well the instru- ment’s sustainable tone and majestic qualities suit the form. Matthias Havinga delivers an authoritative reading, full of colour and timbral invention.
• Recorded in September 2010 in Kotka Church, Sweden.
• Includes comprehensive booklet notes on each work.
Works on This Recording
Passacaglia for Organ by Jan Welmers
Matthias Havinga (Organ)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1965; Netherlands (Holland
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