COLLECTION - Iberian Organ Music - Ton Koopman (Organ) COLLECTION - IBERIAN ORGAN MUSIC - TON KOOPMAN (ORGAN) - Challenge Records 72320

This is definitely a recording for collectors and more specifically a recording for collectors of organ music. The material on this CD is comprised of Spanish organ works from the 16th and 17th centuries. The subtitle of this CD is Batalha because a few of the pieces here were written to depict famous battles. The liner notes written by Ton Koopman himself assert that 17th century organists in Spain and Portugal delighted in recreating the sounds of the battlefield on their instruments. Some of the composers represented are Antonio Correa Braga, Juan Cabanilles, Carlos de Seixas, Francisco Correa de Arauxo & Pedro de Araujo. Not common names for sure, but this new recording should help shed some light on this aspect of the Renaissance and re-establish these fine Iberian composers.

The organ used in this recording is in the Church of St. Lambert in Woluwť-Saint-Lambert near Brussels and was built in the Spanish style by Patrick Collon in 1985. It has the typical horizontal trumpet pipes (trompettes en chamade) and a nice combination of about 14 stops. It is described in the booklet notes as an organ built in the Spanish style, with Flemish influences, and speaking with a slight Brussels accent. But don't be fooled by the fact that it doesn't have many stops. One of those is the Trompeta Real which will stop anybody in their tracks when they hear it. I remember reading somewhere that those trompettes en chamade pipes not only impressed listeners with their loud and bold sound, but also served a more practical purpose. It seems that back then in Spain, they had many instances where organ pipes would get clogged up with dust and dead flying insects, and it took much effort to dismantle them and clean them, so they came up with the horizontal pipes system to prevent that from happening. (fact or fiction)

Ton Koopman brings out the instrument's many facets and colors with a diverse use of its pipes. Even though it only has a few different stops, its flute, violin and cornet stops give it enough variety to quickly change its character from piece to piece. The anonymous Batalha Famoza for example, displays all of the organ's colors and power, and puts the organist's virtuosity to the test. On the other hand, the plaintive Todo el mundo en general by Francisco Correa de Arauxo brings out the organ's beautiful flute sounds. And what a contrast there is between the Obra de 1 Tom by Luis Coutinho and the final Batalha by Pedro de Araujo. If you play the Obra loud because it is a rather quiet little piece, be prepared to jump out of your seat when the Batalha begins. Those trumpet stops aptly display their power here right from the first chord, and prove that size doesn't matter.

All in all a very fine recording by Challenge Records that combines both historical and musical riches, and gives us new organ works to explore and enjoy.

Jean-Yves Duperron