Commotio – organ music from the interwar period

Organist Christian Wilson chose an unusual program for his latest release, Commotio. Subtitled “organ works of the interwar period,” it features compositions written between 1924 and 1931. Wilson’s choices demonstrate the wide variety of styles in play during that tightly circumscribed time frame. Some composers are familiar, others less so.

Olivier Messiaen and Maurice Duruflé are represented, as they should be. Also included is Swedish composer Oskar Lindberg’s sole Sonata for Organ. Lindberg uses a post-romantic harmonic language similar to Rachmaninov’s. That, plus the straightforward arrangement of his material made this work the most traditional sounding one on the album to me.

Carl Nielsen’s highly individualistic style runs true to form in Commotio, the title track. It’s the most chromatic of the works presented, and seems to hint at the dissolution of tonality that the 1930’s would usher in.

Like Hindemith, Austrian composer Hans Gal developed his own version of tonality, which he uses in his Toccata in E minor. While the key is stated, the harmonies move in unexpected directions.

Wilson performs at the restored organ at St. Martin’s Church, Dudelange, Luxembourg. In its current incarnation, this 1912 Stahihuth organ is voiced for romantic French, German, and English music — which makes this instrument well-suited to the music. The recording is clean, with enough ambiance to let the music breathe.

Commotio: Organ works of the interwar period
Christian Wilson, organ
Acis APL34295

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