- Concerto No 2 for organ & orchestra
- Landscapes of Patmos for organ & percussion
- Ókna (Windows), for trumpet & organ
The music of Czech composer Petr Eben was neglected during his lifetime, at least outside of the Slavic countries, but it has received new attention since his death in 2007. The organ was central to his work, which was motivated by a strong religious faith that emerged in the wake of his incarceration in the Buchenwald concentration camp as a teenager in the last stages of World War II. Of Jewish background, Eben uses the organ to evoke what might be called religious-secular imagery; the three works here have sometimes Christian sources (such as chant) and make religious references -- including, most spectacularly, the biblical "Apocalypse in the Landscape with Horses" movement of "Landscapes of Patmos" (track 9) -- but they do not seem to express one specific religious faith.The organ tends to inhabit a separate sphere from the instruments accompanying it: percussion in "Landscapes of Patmos"; trumpet in "Okna (Windows)," inspired by paintings of Marc Chagall; and orchestra in the more abstract "Concerto No. 2 for organ and orchestra." The concerto is masterfully written, with its central Andante rhapsodico not so much a slow movement as a reduction in density, and the analogues of the role of color in Chagall (who admired the work) are beautifully done. But "Landscapes of Patmos" is the work that's really worth getting to know here, and it ought to be more often included on organ recitals. Eben almost reverses the poles of traditional tonality, using a tritone and at times steps of a whole-tone scale as the central reference point but freely wandering into tonal passages when the protean searching of the organ leads the music there. There are other recordings of Eben's music, but this one combines superb sonics with a trio of exceptional soloists: organist Gunther Rost, trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, and percussionist Babette Haag. The only real complaint will come from CD buyers who, once having removed the booklet from its case, will be quite unable to return it there. Recommended for anyone who likes the monumental religious style in contemporary music (Leo Sowerby comes to mind as someone who is quite different in language yet akin in spirit), or simply for anyone interested in the modern organ repertory.