Hakim: Sakskoebing Praeludier
What people are saying
Danish Chamber Players
Naji Hakim – Th. Frobenius & Sonner Organ of Vangede Kirke, Gentofte, Denmark.
Release date:27th Aug 2012
The Sakskoebing Praeludier are vigorously entertaining chorale arrangements. Concerto No. 4 stars the composer, firing off an explosively active finale. 4 stars
BBC Music Magazine, Terry Blain
Although belonging to the great tradition of Parisian organist-composers, Naji Hakim has gained a considerable reputation as a composer away from the organ loft. This disc of his chamber music shows a side to his creative talent that will impress anyone who still thinks of him primarily as an organist.
The 12 Sakskobing Preludes were written in two versions, one for organ alone and the other, recorded here, for seven-part chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, bassoon, harp and strings. If you’re interested in the organ versions – and I recommend listening to them alongside their orchestrated counterparts if you can – you have the luxury of two recordings to choose from, both made by Hakim for Signum Classics, on the organs of Glenalmond College (2008) and the Danish Radio Concert Hall (2010, reviewed in April 2011). The chamber versions aren’t merely arrangements but stand in their own right as fine examples of Hakim’s skill as an orchestral composer. Hakim describes the preludes, which are based on melodies from Danish hymnody, as liturgical works, but the extent to which they bring to mind the choralle preludes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is limited by a range of musical styles and moods that encompasses ragtime, bittersweet sentimentality and comedy among many, and this, together with the absence of the organ, often lifts them right out of the church environment. It’s easy to approach the preludes collectively as an extended suite, and the church connotations won’t be obvious to those unfamiliar with the melodies. Only in the tortured, embellished line of ‘At sige verden ret farvel’ (‘The last farewell to life on earth’) is there a clear throwback to the chorale prelude of old.
The Kammerkoncert No. 1 is a single movement based on Lebanese and Danish melodies presented in a loose, rhapsodic sequence. What it may lack in extended development is made up for by an intriguing cultural fusion of East and West that brings together Carl Nielsen and J. P. E. Hartmann and the scales and rhythms characteristic
of Middle Eastern music. The juxtaposition of the two cultures is sometimes abrupt, awkward even, but often seamlessly blended. The music of Denmark is a theme to which Hakim returns time and again, and in the Kammerkoncert No. 2 he explores in each of the three movements a different Christmas carol. Both works add a piano to the chamber group, which adds weight and lightness in equal measure.
In Hakim’s Organ Concerto No. 4 the composer himself plays the 1979 Frobenius organ of the Vangede Kirke in Gentofte, a three-manual instrument with a forthright, often brawny sound that has been very well captured in combination with the chamber ensemble. The pungent, reedy aroma of the tutti seeps through and underpins the bright instrumental textures without being overpowering, but neither are the more delicate stops lost in the distance, as can happen in organ with orchestra recordings. The concerto bristles with energy. It’s vibrant and animated, at times almost cartoonishly humorous. Threaded through the three movements, by way of Danish hymn tunes and texts, is the theme of eternal life as promised by the Holy Spirit, which gives the work its subtitle, ‘The Streaming and Unextinguishable’, itself a homage to Nielsen’s similarly named Fourth Symphony. Nowhere is the perpetual life force more clearly reflected in the music than in the finale, a cross between a red-hot toccata and an ecstatic dance which surges forward and at the end, it seems, can barely bring itself to a close. This little concerto punches considerably above its weight.
This is just one of several projects in which the Danish Chamber Players have collaborated with Hakim. They are excellent, playing with superb clarity and evidently wholly immersed in Hakim’s idiosyncratic style. To have Hakim playing his own concerto is also, of course, a considerable draw. It’s a well-produced and above all entertaining release, with clear, immediate’ sound satisfyingly recorded in slightly wet acoustics, allowing the sound to resonate without losing transparency. The only small blot is the hooklet notes on the music, which arc translations lifted from the composer’s website; although basically functional, they could do with a good edit to turn them into more natural and, in places, meaningful English.
International Record Review, Peter Lynan
Beirut-born French organist Naji Hakim, Messiaen’s successor at La Trinité in Paris, is also, like Messiaen, a composer, though of an entirely different cut. The four works here are a visit to a world you thought had disappeared. The Sakskøbing Preludier, based on a selection of Danish “hymns for our time,” are a kind of light music that would have been downmarket from Poulenc in the 1950s.
The chamber concertos are in the same general vein, with some Eastern colouring in the first. But there’s a vim in the Fourth Organ Concerto that’s lacking elsewhere, and an offbeat fairground brio in its finale. The performances are marred by some off-colour string intonation.
Irish Times, Michael Dervan
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Mit hjerte altid vanke (Always my heart wanders) – Naji Hakim – 2.22
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Mit hjerte altid vanke (Always my heart wanders) – Naji Hakim – 2.11
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: O Gud, du ved og kender( O God, Thou knowest) – Naji Hakim – 0.50
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: At sige verden ret farvel (The last farewell to life on earth) – Naji Hakim – 1.20
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Hil dig, Frelser og Forsoner! (Hail You, Saviour and Atoner) – Naji Hakim – 2.35
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Den m?rke nat forgangen er (The gloomy night to morning yields) – Naji Hakim – 2.10
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Nu blomstertiden kommer (Now the flowers are blooming) – Naji Hakim – 1.46
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Paskeblomst! hvad vil du her? (Paschal Flow’r! why do you care to come forth?) – Naji Hakim – 1.43
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Op, al den ting, som Gud har gjort (Arise, all things that God has made) – Naji Hakim – 1.43
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: O kristelighed! (O thou, image of Christ!) – Naji Hakim – 4.09
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Sa v?ldigt det modte os forst i vor dab (How wonderful, that the Word first met us in baptism) – Naji Hakim – 1.14
- Saksk?bing Pr?ludier: Befal du dine veje (Commit thy way) – Naji Hakim – 2.10
- Kammerkoncert No. 1: Solen skinner altid pa Beirut (The Sun Shines Always On Beirut) – Naji Hakim – 12.00
- Kammerkoncert No. 2: i. Velkommen igen, Guds engle sma (Welcome again, God?s small angels) – Naji Hakim – 2.44
- Kammerkoncert No. 2: ii. Dejlig er den himmel bla (Lovely is the blue sky) – Naji Hakim – 2.32
- Kammerkoncert No. 2: iii. Et barn er f?dt i Betlehem (A child is born in Bethlehem) – Naji Hakim – 2.56
- Concerto No. 4: i. Str?mmende (Streaming) – Naji Hakim – 4.58
- Concerto No. 4: ii. Sorrig og gl?de (Sorrow and gladness) – Naji Hakim – 7.15
- Concerto No. 4: iii. Uudslukkelig (Unextinguishable) – Naji Hakim – 8.10