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The 1930 Steinmeyer organ of Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, has been magnificently restored by Orgelbau Kuhn into an all-electric IV/139 instrument of some 9,600 pipes, with a tower Echo section, and a triforium Solo division with pipework originally built, and latterly replicated, by Willis. Cathedral Kantor Magne H. Draagen could hardly have devised a more satisfying 80-minute programme to show off the organ to an international listenership. The full range of strings, woodwinds and reeds is displayed in the opening arrangement of ‘Morning Mood’ from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite no.1. More Norwegian connections are made via Egil Hovland’s effervescent Toccata on ‘Kjaerlighet er lysets kilde’, a chorale written by Ludwig and Peter Lindeman, who helped found the Norwegian Academy of Music; Ludwig Nielsen (1906-2001) was the Cathedral’s organist for 41 years – his delightful Nidarosdomens Klokker combines the theme of the Cathedral’s north tower bell chimes with the Norwegian folk tune ‘Høyr kor kyrkjek-lokke lokkar’ (Hear the church bells beckon) in a delightful Fantasy – fit to stand alongside Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster – which uses the Echo organ to great effect; the Adagio by Oslo Cathedral organist Arild Sandvold (1895-1984) nods to the installation of the great Walcker organ in Oslo, which became the second largest instrument in Norway after Trondheim’s Steinmeyer; and Draagen himself contributes a charming improvisation on a folk tune from Hornidal to demonstrate the organ’s Euphone 4ft, French Horn 8ft, chimes and celesta. Impressively rich string and foundation stops are heard in Howells’s Master Tallis’s Testament and Reger’s Benedictus; the celesta imitates the harp figures in Widor’s Wagnerian Marche nuptiale (arranged from incidental music to the play Conte d’Avril); Petr Eben’s Moto Ostinato performs its familiar trick of ping-ponging round the divisions; the 54 micro-variations in Karg-Elert’s Homage to Handel prove a clever choice for a showcase, and Draagen – never headstrong, always playing with clarity and expressive nuance – rounds off by letting the Solo reeds rip in Gigout’s Grand choeur dialogué. This is a Rolls-Royce organ, in a recording well worth seeking out.

GRAEME KAY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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