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Iveta Apkalna: First Organ CD Recorded at the Elbphilharmonie

Under the title »Light & Dark«, Iveta Apkalna released the debut recording made on the Elbphilharmonie organ.

The organ in the Grand Hall has already captivated numerous visitors since the Elbphilharmonie was opened in January 2017. No one is left untouched by the instrument's majestic sound, which spreads out through the entire space and can be not only heard, but literally felt as well, from every seat.

On 7 September 2018 the Elbphilharmonie's titular organist, Iveta Apkalna, released the very first recording of a solo organ recital made in the Grand Hall. The CD on the Berlin Classics label is entitled »Light & Dark«, and features Apkalna playing a series of exciting contemporary works that demonstrate the immense tonal range of the Elbphilharmonie organ.

Iveta Apkalna: Light & Dark

  • Released: 7 September 2018
  • Label: Berlin Classics
  • Music by Gubaidulina, Kalējs, Garūta, Janáček, Ligeti, Shostakovich, Escaich
  • Soloist: Iveta Apkalna (Organ)

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Iveta Apkalna: Light & Dark
© Iveta Apkalna: Light & Dark

Trailer: Light & Dark / Berlin Classics

Iveta Apkalna

Photo: Peter Hundert

The modern repertoire seems tailor-made for both the organist and the instrument. The focus of the programme is Sofia Gubaidulina's »Hell und Dunkel« – a work full of extremes that penetrates every fibre of the listener's body, and which gives the CD its name. Two composers from the organist's native Latvia, Aivars Kalējs and Lūcija Garūta, are represented, and we also hear works by Leoš Janáček, György Ligeti, Dmitri Shostakovich and Thierry Escaich.

C. Lieben-Seutter / Iveta Apkalna
C. Lieben-Seutter / Iveta Apkalna © Claudia Höhne

The whole structure of the CD is also intended as a story, with ups and downs, with contrasts – like the Grand Halls’s »white skin« of the hall and the black-coloured mobile organ console. That's why the work of Sofia Gubaidulina is the focal point of the programme.

Iveta Apkalna

»King of All Instruments«

The organ from the workshop of the Bonn organ builders Klais is an instrument of superlatives. It took 45 organ builders a total of 25,000 hours to finish the masterpiece. The organ weighs 25 tonnes, measures 15 metres in height and is 15 metres wide. 4,765 pipes stretch across five levels of the auditorium, their length ranging from a tiny eleven millimetres to a mighty ten metres.

The very open structure of the so-called »white skin« in this area of the hall allows concertgoers to see inside the organ – the organ fits perfectly into its architectural surroundings. Some from the pipes have even been given a coating so that people can actually touch them. It took three months to set the instrument up in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall. And even once all the pipes were in place and working properly, the organ builders’ labours weren't over: there followed another three months of voicing work, where every individual pipe was checked once more and its sound meticulously adjusted to fit the surroundings.

The Elbphilharmonie Organ

  • Weight: 25 tonnes
  • Size: 15 metres x 15 metres
  • Number of pipes: 4,765
  • Total construction time: 25,000 hours

This organ sounds warm and round, with many attractive colours that come from everywhere and from the depths.

Iveta Apkalna

Photo: Peter Hundert

Iveta Apkalna: Titular Organist of the Elbphilharmonie

Iveta Apkalna is one of the world's best-known organists; as the Elbphilharmonie's titular organist, she knows the instrument in the Grand Hall as no other musician does. The native of Latvia plays all over the world in major concert venues and churches, and has made it her mission to increase the splendour of the organ in the concert hall as well. Iveta Apkalna is Latvia's Cultural Ambassador, and she has dedicated this album to her home country, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

The recording »Iveta Apkalna – Light & Dark« is a co-production with the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

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