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The Netherlands are well known for the rich heritage of historic organs, restored and cared for in a manner that is the envy of organists everywhere. However, apart from Sweelinck, their indigenous tradition of organ music is much less well-known, and Gerben Budding has carefully recorded this boxed-set of pieces by composers who will be new to most organists, and all played on appropriate organs. The historical scope is advertised as being from the ‘16th to the 21st centuries’, and although two of the featured composers died in 2004 and 2017, the range of musical styles and harmonic language hardly extends beyond the mid-20th century. What is missing in such a chronological recorded anthology is the inclusion of visionary avant- garde works by composers such as Piet Kee (surely an opportunity for an extension to the project).

The CDs are arranged broadly chronologically, beginning with pieces from the Susanne van Soldt manuscript (c.1599), Steenwick (1642-79), Van Noordt (c.1619-75), Sweelinck (1562-1621) and Speuy (c.1575- 1625). On CDs 2 and 3 we hear works for the 18th century: Lustig (1706-96), Hurlebusch (1691-1765), Pool (1734-95), Van Blankenburg (1654-1739), Brunnenmüller (1666-c.1762), Lootens (1736-1813) and Ruppe (1753-1826). The music is somewhat derivative, with styles of French overtures, Italian concertos, and variations on both sacred and secular themes.

In 19th-century composers such as De Lange (1811-84), Dijkhuijzen (1821-97), Hol (1825-1904) and Van Eijken (1823-68) on CD 4, the influence of Mendelssohn is strongly present, complete with ‘religious’ andantes, allegros con brio and fugal finales. More chromatic idioms are encountered in the pieces by Bonefass (1926-2004) and Klop (1946-2017) on CD 5, and the influence of Franck’s Prelude, Fugue & Variation is evident in Jan Nieland’s (1903- 63) Prélude, Chorale et Variations.

The final CD presents a mixed bag of styles. The chromaticism of Reger is heard in Johann Wagenaar’s (1862-1941) Inleiding en Fuga and there are finely constructed sonatas and fantasias by Litzau (1822-93), Hendricks (1861-1923) and Cor Kint (1890-1944). However, there are some ‘entertainment’ pieces, such as Jacques Bonset’s (1880- 1959) variations on a minuet by Purcell (op.155), which is almost laughable in its solid working-out of all the melodic and textural possibilities. I hope he composed it as a joke …

Budding’s evident evangelism for this wide range of Dutch organ music is commendable, all played with commitment, colour and imagination. Liner notes, alas, are all in Dutch.

DAVID PONSFORD Read the full review on Agora Classica


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