Chris Bragg BMus(Hons), UM (Amsterdam)
organist, translator, writer

There is a very zeitgeist-like feel to this release. Inspired by his experiences presiding over post-war organs, the young Dutch organist Gerben Mourik (winner of Haarlem and St Albans) sets out to re-examine and re-assess the first wave of organ reform in the Netherlands by performing music of the era (largely) and improvising on instruments (one each) by Marcussen, Flentrop, Van Leeuwen, Van Vulpen and Vierdag. The choice of instruments was largely guided by a desire to record the best examples of each builder and, in particular, to document the organs which have not received modern ‘corrections’ to their voicing. And it is here that the real raison d’etre of the CD is revealed. In a lengthy and very interesting essay in the (extensive) booklet, organologist Bart van Buitenen protests against the recent alterations to the Dutch organs of the 1950s and 60s.


Food for thought from both sides but the organs (outstandingly) recorded here make compelling cases for themselves. Gerben Mourik’s virtuosic neo-classical style improvised sonata on ‘Wachet Auf’ is a rare example of a brilliantly fertile mind coupled intuitively to an astounding organ. I was thrilled to the core.

This release is brilliantly conceived, objectifying the instruments as documents of what Dirk Flentrop called a “longing for simplicity” rather than as simply the early steps on the road to a more “informed” era.