Celebrating 100 years since the birth of the French composer Jehan Alain on February 3rd 2011, Simax Classics is proud to release his complete works for organ recorded at the new Goll organ at Fagerborg church in Oslo. A fascinating experience of this enigmatic musical soul filled with humour, serenity and love.
Short on the life of Alain
Alain’s father was also an organist, pupil of Guilmant and Vierne, and Jehan studied with among others Dukas and Dupré at the conservatoire in Paris. Jehan Alain was in a state of continuous creation all his life – including a multitude of drawings and texts – and left behind more than 140 works of music. He was mobilised for the French army, and died in action in 1940 only 29 years old.
A magical mystery tour…
Most of Alain’s music has remained known only to the few, but his Litanies (1937) is really popular, as is the Trois Danses. The published editions of Alain’s music contain inaccuracies and misunderstandings., so when preparing a recording it is a necessity to do what Lars Notto Birkeland has done here; study in detail the different manuscripts that exist of each work. Alain himself only saw the publication of five of his works while still alive, but the family – in particular his sister organist Marie-Claire – and ardent supporters like Guy Bovet have luckily taken it upon them to make the wonderful art of Alain available.
Lars Notto Birkeland
Birkeland gave his debut organ recital at Oslo Cathedral in 1998 and has since pursued an active performing career, including concerts and touring with the Oslo Philharmonic in Poulenc’s organ concerto and Saint-Saëns’s organ symphony. He has given recitals at many festivals including the Bergen International Festival and Oslo International Church Music Festival. Birkeland received a government grant for artists for 2006-2008 in order to work on the music of Jehan Alain.