Spirited Fantasies

Gerben Mourik, Danish Radio "Koncerthuset", Copenhagen.

With a circulation of 11.000 the first cd recording of the new Van den Heuvel-organ at the concert hall of the Danish Radio is released. Gerben Mourik demontrates the many possibilities of this symphonic concert organ (with its 91 stops the largest organ of Danmark) with a very diverse program.

1. Intrada
The first improvisation showcases the sololistic sound of the Recit reed stops, the Tubas and the 16’, 8’ and 4’ pedal reed stops (without Bombarde 16’). Several rhythmic devices point ahead towards the Gershwin Rhapsody.

2. Evocation from the 16th century
This is an homage to 16th-Century medieval wind music. The middle section (with its Grand-Orgue and Postif mixtures; the Pédale on its own with 16’, 8’, 4’ and Mixture) allude to the harmonies more common in the 17th century.

3. Concert Fantasia on three themes from Tchaikovsky & Liszt
This Concert Fantasy is based on a theme from Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony and two themes from the Heroide-Elégiaque – a work for piano by Franz Liszt.
In this improvisation the organ is treated as a symphony orchestra; the foundations resemble the strings, the reeds act as the woodwind and the Tubas as the brass. The three swell boxes make the sound swell in a measured way, as can be done so beautifully by an orchestra.

4. Prelude, fugue, intermezzo and final on “I Danmark er jeg født”
This improvisation makes the organ sound more like a French symphonic instrument. The theme is one of the tunes from the famous Danish song, “I Danmark er jeg fodt” [“In Denmark I was born”], which dates from 1926. The verses of this popular song were sung by the Danish Royal family and 1800 guests during the official inauguration of the concert hall and the organ on the 17th January 2009.
The Finale is a celebratory carillon which ends with the melody in the Pédale. This improvisation is an homage to Pierre Cochereau, the Parisian organist of Notre-Dame Cathedral, who died suddenly at the age of 59 in 1984 (twenty-five years ago this year).

5. Sonatine in G-Dur: Allegro, Adagio, Allegretto
This Sonatine reveals some of the smaller stops (particularly in the Positif and Solo). The themes emerged on the spot, and the style is that of the Viennese Classics.

6. Waltz (thema: Verdi - Rigoletto)
Themes composed for opera can equally serve as inspiration for an improvisation. This waltz starts with an introduction, in which the Quintaton of the Positif can be clearly heard. The theme is played first by the Grosse Flûte and the Nasard of the solo manual (like real soloists). After a crescendo the waltz changes to common time, but it returns following a second crescendo.
The pedal produces the rhythm, much like the double basses in an orchestra, and also guides the changes in tempo that characterise the operatic style.

7-9. Three impressions about Copenhagen: (Homage to Sigfrid Karg-Elert)
These three impressions were conceived as a painting expressed with music. Impressions I and II particularly show off the strings (the organ’s ‘pastels’). One should simply experience this music. Several of the harmonic elements and stops used in these improvisations can be also be found in compositions by Karg-Elert.

10. Méditation
This free improvisation provides an “interval” in the programme. The Voix celeste is one of the stops that stands out in the middle section.

11. Gershwin-Rhapsody
Despite their jazzy sound, many of Gershwin’s musical and song themes are essentially classical pieces. This improvisation (a Rhapsody) is based on two famous Gershwin themes and sets out to showcase the many unusual sounds and combinations of the Van den Heuvel concert organ.
The piece culminates in a tumultuous Toccata – interspersed with ‘Summertime’, now treated as a chorale – and a fanfare with the Tutti of the organ. Gerben dedicated this improvisation to his teacher and mentor Naji Hakim, who prepared him for taking part in – and winning – the International Improvisation Competition 2008 in Haarlem.

"Listening to Gerben Mourik's brilliant and varied improvisation programme is testimony that the DR Van den Heuvel organ is certainly one of the best concert hall organs in the world.

Its majestic and colourful symphonic characteristics as a solo instrument complement and rival the forces and nuances of a symphony orchestra.

I am sure that this royal instrument will inspire organists, conductors and composers to give joy to many listeners."

Dr. Naji Hakim

More information about Naji Hakim: www.najihakim.com

Gerben Mourik (1981) completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees with Bram Beekman (literature) and Henco de Berg (improvisation) at the Brabant's Conservatorium in Tilburg. He also took private lessons with Ben van Oosten, Ansgar Wallenhorst and Naji Hakim. Gerben has won, among other accolades, three first prizes in improvisation competitions in Zwolle (2003), St Albans (2005) and Haarlem (2008), the last of which was awarded unanimously by the judges. He is the organist of the Grote or St Michaelskerk in Oudewater.

Additional Info

  • Label: www.inside-audio.nl
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