Recording Bengt Johansson’s organ works at Helsinki Cathedral on 4 January 2005
On 4 January 2005 I recorded three organ works composed by Bengt Johansson for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. One of these works was Toccata da festa (1951–1959), which I most likely premiered at Helsinki Cathedral on 16 March 2004. The other two compositions were Preludio e fuga à 4 voci (1947) and Preludio ostinato e fuga (written at the turn of 1940–1950). Out of these three works, Preludio ostinato e fuga is the only one that has been published (Organum Fennicum I). I acquired the scores for Toccata da festa and Preludio e fuga à 4 voci from the Finnish Music Information Centre.
In Preludio e fuga à 4 voci and Preludio ostinato e fuga Bengt Johansson’s fugue texture is very chromatic but, at the same, a solidly contrapuntal piece of handicraft. Preludio e fuga à 4 voci is perhaps the most inspiring but, at the same time, most tonal work of these three compositions by Johansson. It has probably never been publicly performed. In this composition you can hear echoes from the works of Wagner, Reger and Debussy even though there is no actual imitation. Preludio ostinato e fuga is slightly more academic than Preludio e fuga à 4 voci but mistier and more sinuous by nature. It has been very rarely performed.