Having not played in public since February owing to corona restrictions, it has been both challenging and inspiring to travel to Denmark for five concerts over ten days. I have been particularly struck by the mental and physical challenges of playing extended and varied programmes after such a long break. It seems to me that overcoming these in order to be able to be fully 'in the moment' — something that was achieved with varying degrees of success during this trip — is half the battle when it comes to playing in public.
Much has been written elsewhere about the history of this unbelievably special building and organ. While I’m more interested in music than organs — that is to say that I’m more concerned with the instrument’s musical qualities and its marriage with the music — there is so much to mention that is beautiful here; in particular the HW Principal 8’, the rich and ’throaty’ (in a good way) Ped Posaune 16’, the RP Gedeckt 8’, the Regals — the ensemble, transparency and whole package is pretty spectacular. Tunder’s ’Christ lag in Todes Banden’ made sense to me here in a way it had not before (admittedly, I had been forced to practise for months on end on a terrible electronic organ during the lockdown); to me, instrument and music were speaking the same language (albeit with regional colourings). It is difficult to do justice to these qualities in writing or on recordings; they really must be experienced ‘live’.
I was glad that I arrived early and had time to fully appreciate the organ. There’s a great deal of truth in the saying that great instruments are great teachers. Practising alone, with the sun blazing through the west window and a feeling of connection with the instrument, sound and its presence in the space, was both a spectacular and humbling experience.
Special thanks to Kåre for letting me out of the building late at night, my registrants, Lene and Sonja, and to Bine Bryndorf for inviting me to play. It was a little unnerving knowing she was listening downstairs as this is very much ‘her’ organ and repertory. She said kind words before the concert and the entire experience was a special one that felt a million miles away from the previous grim months of lockdown.