A musician of uncommon versatility, Gunnar Idenstam happily acknowledges the influences of Swedish folk music and dance as well as the symphonic rock of the 1970s. But whether he collaborates with Sami traditional singers (as on Songs for Jukkasjärvi, BIS-1868) or folk musicians (as on Folkjul - A Swedish Folk Christmas, BIS-5031), Idenstam is firmly grounded in the virtuosic French organ tradition which he studied in France, with the legendary Marie-Claire Alain. It was during his time in Paris that he first started dreaming of transferring Debussy’s La Mer to his own instrument – to perform this impressionistic orchestral seascape on the organ.
As Idenstam now releases a recording of his arrangement, it appears in the company of key orchestral works by Maurice Ravel, another composer who never wrote anything for the organ. In his liner notes to the album, Idenstam writes of arriving, over the years, at his own palette of organ sounds, one which he feels best corresponds to those of the orchestra. Finding a suitable organ on which to realize the arrangements has also been vital for this project, and as a result, Idenstam travelled to the small town of Dudelange in Luxemburg. With its more than 5.000 pipes, the four-manual Stahlhuth-Jann organ of Église Saint-Martin has an exceptionally broad dynamic spectrum, as well as a wealth of characteristic stops with which to bring out the timbres of Debussy’s sea and wind, and depict the daybreak of Ravel’s Lever du jour, the glittering ballroom chandeliers of La Valse or the ecstatic climax of Boléro.
"... a programme of rich ambition and imagination."
Jeremy Nicholas - Gramophone magazine - November 2014
"...The organ of St Martin’s, Dudelange, Luxembourg is an excellent choice with its synthesis of the best of the French, German and English schools of organbuilding. The spatial disposition of the four-manuals in the clear but reverberant acoustic allows the all-important sense of orchestral background and foreground to be recreated. Idenstam brings an excellent technique and a generous sense of drama to the task at hand..."