Bittere Erde

Johannes Landgren
OP 9301


Das Lied der Frauen und Männer
Das Lied vom Heimatland
Das Land der Armen
Landscape with Eagle
Landscape with the Eldest
Landscape with Temple
Landscape with Rainbow
Landscape with Horses

Footprint’s re-mastering of recordings from the legendary Swedish audiophile label Opus 3 continues with this collection of four impassioned works by the ‘Czech Messiaen’ Peter Eben, beginning with his impassioned and urgent masterpiece for choir and organ, Bittere Erde.

Eben’s score takes its lead from poetry by Jaroslav Seifert written as Czechoslovakia faced its darkest days at the start of World War II. The music converts patriotism into an expression of deep and resounding love for one’s home, communicated here in a railing but faultless performance from the choral forces of Musica Vocalis, who relish all the colour and poignancy of the Czech language under Johannes Landgren’s direction.

Landgren, Eben’s prophet in Sweden, moves to the organ bench for a thrilling performance of Eben’s song of protest for organ and trombone, Two Invocations (featuring Lars-Göran Carlsson) and the Due Preludi Festivi that explore the composer’s fascination with the hinterland between composition and improvisation. Per Karlsson joins Landgren for Eben’s Landscapes of Patmos. Though inspired by images of the apocalypse, these colourful canvasses for organ and percussion teem with dancing joy and dark foreboding in performances of extraordinary colour and vitality.

Per Sjösten’s re-mastering from Opus 3’s original analogue tapes – which used the company’s trademark single Blumlein stereo microphone – are accompanied by extensive documentation including the 123 pages of Landgren’s thesis on Eben’s work and its interpretation. Footprint is proud to release this rediscovery of outstanding music caught in recordings of distinction.

Andrew Mellor