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Hans-Ola Ericsson (organ)

The Four Beasts´ Amen, Mass for organ and electronics
Melody to the Memory of a Lost Friend XIII, for organ and electronics
Canzon del Principe An intabulation on an intabulation for organ and electronics
Höga Visan (Song of Songs):
, for organ, percussion and electronics;.
, for high soprano and organ


BIS-SACD-1486 [TT 80 mins]

This is about as esoteric as you are likely to encounter, far-out music for organ with electronics, which remains in manuscript and probably owes its release on CD to the eminence of this organist, a specialist in contemporary music for his instrument (he has recorded the whole of Messiaen, and very much else).

Although it is wholly instrumental (even the soprano Susanne Rydén is only heard wordlessly in a vocalise) the texts by Olov Hartman which inspired Ericsson are printed in full. They provide a spiritual/philosophical background for what is mainly contemplative music, though with occasional formidable outbursts.


Hans-Ola Ericsson (b.1958) studied with Ferneyhough and Nono and, pursuing another devouring interest, was project leader of an exhaustive documentation, reconstruction and restoration of the most important Swedish Baroque organ, at the German Church in Stockholm.


Important influences on the recent compositions assembled here are the four Swedish organs recorded, and their tunings (all fully documented with dispositions, but no photos).


Canzon del Principe (2002), based on Gesualdo "makes great use of mean-tone tuning and microtonal shifts" against the organ part. Melody to the Memory of a Lost Friend XIII deals with the despair of a suicide in a system "similar to those governing chess moves". He conceived it whilst inadvertently locked in a room with Hieronymus Bosch's ascension tryptich...


The Mass is given on the reconstructed Schnitger organ at Örgryte (a little more detailed commentary on its music might have been helpful). The music needs patience and receptivity but given some effort I found it rewarding. Swedish contemporary composers seem to cast different lights on sacred-inspired music; this discovery brought to mind another daunting work with electronics, Ákos Rózmann's grandiose seven-hour Mass (1988-2004), for musical material transformed from sound sources including organ, zither and human voices [Phono Suecia PSCD 27], heard in the contemporary music festival at Stockholm 2006.


See also Hans-Ola Ericsson in wikipedia, and his BIS discography at naxos

© Peter Grahame Woolf