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Crescendo Magazine (BE) 10/9/10/10 review

November 13, 2021

Christophe Steyne

"Schumann's organ revisited at Our Savior in Copenhagen: romantic!

Google Translation:

Neither the front nor the back of the cover indicates the instrument, but connoisseurs will recognize it on the cover photo, especially as the performer has held it since 1989! And that he has just taken his leave after three decades: the occasion of a gala concert on August 15, when this album was officially released. He offers us these opus 56 and 60 that Jens Christensen had approached in this Frelsers kirke five years earlier. It was under these vaults that when he took up his post he initiated a Bach complete for the Kontrapunkt label. This place recalls the recordings that Lionel Rogg (Emi) and Michel Chapuis (Valois) devoted to the Triosonaten, the Orgelbüchlein, the Choralpartite. Thus the choice of this organ, the construction of which dates back to the early years of the Cantor de Leipzig, induces an open listening to these sources of inspiration. "The Roots and the Flowers": this subtitle expresses how the composer leaned on the academic counterpoint and acclimatized it in a bouquet conforming to the Affekten of the time (Bach had bowed for almost a century). Like the two elephants supporting the majestic grandstand, the program sits on the rhetoric Sechs Fügen, split into three flanks, the Sechs Stücke with a lighter efflorescence and a more romantic scent. A little disturbing for those who wish to hear these two notebooks continuously: if necessary, they can be reordered with their remote control. For these works, there is no lack of good addresses since Andreas Rothkopf in Hoffenheim (Audite, 1987): the dignity of the young Olivier Latry on the Cavaillé-Coll de Saint-Omer (RCA, 1991), the edifying Rudolf Innig in Beckum ( MDG, 1995) which drew the style towards posterity, the poetic imagination of Olivier Vernet in Wisches (Ligia, 2010), Daniel Beckmann most recently at Aeolus… The Danish organist impresses with his finely animated but above all powerful, ample vision , sumptuous. The opening Langsam 60 asserts at the outset how Jens E. Christensen reconciles the virtues of organization and expressiveness, through a monumental crescendo, initiated on the background, and a masterfully arranged accelerando. Same solemnity for the Mässig, doch nicht zu langsam where the skilfully dosed stretching, with recourse to reeds for the climax, responds to the challenges of polyphonic readability constrained by an almost suffocating density. To say nothing of the sixth Fugue, which grabs you in inexorable gears to the tutti that leaves you stunned: does the discography keep any trace of such a vice? What a constriction! Few other hands are known to delve so deeply into the text, and succeed in recombining it with such insight. And of sensitivity: the Mit sanften Stimmen is almost unraveled and lets glimpse its most intimate fibers - we think of the last opus that Brahms bequeathed to the pipes at the end of his life. It is perhaps in this that this altitude upsets: it secretes an unvarnished portrait of the last Schumann, moved by his own cracks, terrorized by his dark demons, but who aspires to serenity by taking refuge in the uterine interlacings bequeathed by the classic template. Admittedly, such intelligence which reconstructs the score from scratch has a price: the ingenuous character of the first two Études is erased by a suave, opulent, and somewhat dragging approach. Ditto for the Andantino, or the funny fourth dressed like a harlequin in bright colors but sad, crippled in his gesture. Rather Eusebius than Florestan, but no less strong in soul. We salute a high definition recording whose reproduction in SACD displays an extraordinary consistency, layering, sharpness and dynamics: to get to know this acoustics, already flattering in situ, we must admit that the microphones reveal a perspective truer than life. ! The stamps are also translated with indecent veracity, and allow one to admire the eloquent registrations of which the performer, who has frequented this console for thirty years, knows the smallest resources and the innumerable treasures. Seduction of sound, intensity of speech, variety of tones (from tenderness to merciless harshness), unstoppable structuring of ideas: each of these parameters calls out and unites in a performance unlike any other. Out of the ordinary, captivating and bluffing. We dare not say a will as this testimony lives on, and at the same time is immortalized. Not of those who overuse a Schumann of half-basin, who wiggle the butt, but rather who assumes the deep end and the high voltage of passions. A great record." Sound: 10 - Booklet: 9 - Repertory: 10 - Interpretation: 10 Christophe Steyne