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Dutch Delight: Organ Music from the Golden Age, by Sweelinck, Noordt et al. / Matthias Havinga, organ

Notes & Reviews:

This attractive collection brings together organ music from the Dutch Golden Age; a period of great prosperity and power for the Republic of the Netherlands. During this era culture blossomed, with art, particularly painting and music, reaching a hitherto unknown level of refinement as exemplified in the works of Rembrandt and Sweelinck, among others. Cities of the Republic were centers of power, and the position of city organist was one of great prestige, as he was essentially responsible for coordinating local musical culture. His musical adaptability led him to compose in all manner of forms, as can be heard on this release - which effectively offers a postcard from the Dutch Golden Age through its variety of compositions: psalm arrangements, fantasias, dances and secular songs. As arguably the greatest Dutch composer of all time, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's music is a particularly prominent feature of the disc. Of his contrasting variation sets, many were based on secular songs (whose subjects range widely): More Palatino is a bawdy drinking song and Mein junges Leben hat ein End a melancholic melody in the 'vanitas' style, linking closely to popular themes in paintings of the time. Of the musical psalm settings for the organ, which were used to accompany the singing of a massed congregation and also performed during public "concerts" while people wandered through the church in great numbers, Anthoni van Noordt's setting of Psalm 24 is particularly notable, beginning soberly, featuring an adventurous, expressive second variation, and ending grandly with the melody in the pedal. The Faber/Blank organ of the Jacobuskerk, Zeerijp, is well suited to the repertoire; dating from 1651, it was reconstructed to its original condition in 1979. In the hands of Matthias Havinga, who has won prizes at various international organ competitions and performed extensively in many European countries and in the USA, it is essential in recreating the sound world of the music as closely as possible. This is Havinga's third release for Brilliant Classics, following successful recordings of J.S. Bach's Italian Concertos (transcribed for the organ) (BC94203) and Passacaglia (BC9269). This beautiful programme, recorded in 2014, brings us back to the Golden Age of the Netherlands, the 16th and 17th century, in which cultural life blossomed thanks to the economical prosperity brought by the overseas trade. Wealthy merchants commissioned works by artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Ruischdael and others. The booklet contains extensive liner notes written by the artist, information on the organ and its specifications and an artist biography in English, Dutch and German.

American Record Guide, September/October 2015
The organ is a two-manual instrument built by Theodorus Faber in 1651 and restored to its original condition in 1978-9. As heard here, its tone is clear but warm and refined. Full organ is brilliant but not oppressive. The instrument has been beautifully recorded. In the course of the program, Matthias Havinga exhibits the instrument's complete palette of tone colors.

Havinga is a graduate of the Amsterdam Conservatory and currently serves as organist of the Round Lutheran Church in Amsterdam. He is also active as a pianist and has worked with Collegium Vocale Gent, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Netherlands Radio Choir. His playing here is stylish and animated. In general he displays a keen understanding of the music of the period.


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