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Briefly Noted: Gunnar Idenstam

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Ravel / Debussy (arrangements for organ), G. Idenstam

(released on July 8, 2014)
BIS-2049 | 73'46"
Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel wrote no music for the organ. That bothered Swedish organist Gunnar Idenstam, who decided to make his own arrangements of some of his favorite pieces. With inventive registrations on the 1912/2002 Stahlhuth/Jann organ of St. Martin’s Church in Dudelange, Luxembourg, he gives a reasonable and fun approximation of the orchestral effects of Debussy's La Mer. In the Lever du jour movement of Ravel's second suite from Daphnis et Chloé, he even gives a suggestion of the wordless choir offstage, and various pipes serve as the metronomic percussion in his version of Bolero. As Idenstam explains in his somewhat breathless booklet essay, for those pieces that Ravel originally wrote for piano, he began with the piano score, using Ravel's orchestrations to guide his choice of registration. For two excerpts from the Valses nobles et sentimentales and the Pavane pour une infante defunte, the results are merely pretty, but for the hallucinogenic La valse, Idenstam hits the mark with a heady, swirling performance. Not essential listening, but fun for fans of the organ.

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