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Tender Is the North

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Customer Reviews

Frozen organ

Organist Iain Quinn is building a fine discography on Chandos that focuses on repertoire outside the ever-dominant French school. Tender is the North is a well-chosen and brilliantly performed collection of works from the Scandinavian countries. Quinn opens the program with music by two familiar composers: Jean Sibelius (Finland) and Niels Gade (Denmark). The Sibelius works are stately and conservative. The three brief Gade pieces are quite lovely and are firmly set in the German Romantic style (think Mendelssohn’s organ music). The balance of the program features some lesser-known composers: Selim Palmgren (Finland), Áskell Másson (Iceland), Knut Nystedt (Norway) and Otto Olsson (Sweden).

I’ve never heard of Másson, but his Larghetto is a keeper. This is a somber-toned work whose emotional chromatic central section is very moving. Nystedt’s Variasjoner over ‘Med Jesus vil eg fara’ is a set of seven variations on a Norwegian folk tune. Nystedt’s variations are thrilling and showcases the Harrison and Harrison organ of Coventry Cathedral—this is a terrific work that more organists should play. The Olsson Sonata, Op. 38 has big-hearted charm and requires no small measure of virtuosity from the soloist – the pedal work is killer – and Quinn is up to every challenge. This is another outstanding recording from a marvelous organist. I can’t wait to hear what Quinn has in store for us next.

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