Notes to Just organ: JUST ORGAN TONES is a tour through the explorations of the organ made by Bent Sørensen after finishing his organ education at Vejby Church in 2007, with the most recent entry being dated 2014. The opening piece is an improvisation based on Pérotin’s Deux points d’orgue en triple. Pérotin was organist at Notre Dame de Paris and lived from about 1180 to 1236. The classical medium-sized organ (22 registers) in Romanswiller used for the improvisation has been digitised tone by tone, i.e. each key of each register separately. In this way, a very realistic representation of this 19th century organ is obtained, including the small irregularities always present. Most computer-sampled musical instruments just use one tone per octave and then interpolates to get the rest. The reason is the large amount of work involved, where the spectrum of each tone must be analysed for regular zero-crossings in order to have a middle section (between note attack and fade-out) that can be repeated as required for a particular duration of the note.
The second piece is a tribute to the French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), who continued the elegance of Saint-Saëns and the impressionists. His organ concerto (1938) is by many considered his most serious work, written for the funeral of a friend. In the tribute, small bits of tone patterns from the concerto are cropping up during the improvisatory development.
The third piece is a dreamy fantasy played on the 24 register, three keyboards plus pedal organ at Vejby Church. This organ is quite atypical for organs in Northern Europe, by having three sets of pipes en chamade, sticking out above the players head (see photo). These pipes emits sounds as trumpets, ranket and vox humana. The two latter, funny voices are heard just after the opening theme. Also played on this organ is the following, jazzy version of a Bach psalm. The monotony of Bach’s music (most notes have exactly the same duration) has been made more spicy by adding syncopation, an idea used by many interpreters. The three next pieces are played on the classical Frobenius organ at Søborg Church, also with 24 registers but only two manuals. Two of the pieces are improvisations over works of Louis Marchand (1669-1732), at his time celebrated as a star organ improviser. The first uses a sketch (played verbatim at the beginning) found among Marchand’s unpublished cembalo work at Versailles. To me it looks like the kind of memo an improviser would use to remember some key figures to include, so this is how I use it. The second piece has been reused unaltered by Carl Nielsen in his song I know the nest of a lark (written soon after the Marchand organ works around 1900 had been published by Guilmant).
After a short, meditative piece played using the sampled Romanswiller organ, the CD concludes with a bird song. In fact literally so, as sampled bird voices are used to create the melody, with marimba accompaniment. But then the organ takes over and imitates the bird’s way of singing, adding increasingly a regular beat and rhythmic drive.