Album Title: harmOrgan
Performers: Sigmund Groven, harmonica / Ivor Kleive, organ
Label: 2L, 077-SABD
Playing time: 78’ 38”
Recorded: Sep 2010

Can the world’s smallest musical instrument collaborate happily with the largest? Harmonicist Sigmund Groven and organist Ivor Kleive have proven Yes! with their 20-something recordings since their first 1979 collaboration. Groven was taught by the legendary Canadian.born Sir Tommy Rundle Reilly and is now one of the few classical harmonica players who frequently concertizes with the world’s leading orchestras like The Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields, Rotterdam Philharmonic and The Berlin Radio Symphony. Apart from concert soloist and recitalist, Groven is also an award-winning composer.

After graduating from The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo in 1972, Kleive went to Munich to study with Karl Richter the organist, harpsichordist and conductor. Naturally Kleive’s musical talent also transverses from organist to pianist, vocalist and composer. The smallest and biggest duo come together on this recording with their own compositions and transcriptions (who else really could do that for them?). Their works are not confined to the traditional classical school but rather speak many different musical languages, from nationalistic to religious, with a touch of modern spirit that livens up the organ with a jive. My favorite one is Kleive’s Suite Provençale and his chorale collection/transcription Melodier fra Koralboka. If you have attended some modern Christian mass and enjoyed its rhythmic hymns, Koralboka is something like that. Even though performed by a solemnly church-sounding pipe organ and a 'proletariat' mouth harmonica, the music turns out to be very hip. Especially the last two movements could well be pop music.

The two transcriptions from the frequently performed Baroque repertoire are J. S. Bach’s Flute Concerto BWV 1031 and Sicilliana & Giga from Händel’s Recorder Sonata HWV 369, both brilliantly reconceived and reinterpreted. 2L opens up a new sonic horizon with this pure-audio BluRay disc. Ultra resolution has been attained through ground-breaking DXD technology that records in 24-bit/352.8kHz, then transfers to HDMA 24-bit/192kHz in 5.1 DTS or 24-bit/192kHz in 2.0 LPCM. When I played the multi-channel format (red button on the remote of the BluRay player) on my Oppo/Winsome Labs/Sim Audio/Mark&Daniel system with paired subwoofers, the ambience of the recording venue came across as close to real as I could imagine. The proportion of the all-embracing organ and petite but sonorous harmonica felt meticulously rendered. When I hit the yellow button to change to stereo, the atmospheric perspective consolidated into a spacious stereo soundstage more sonically akin to an audiophile’s ears. The album also includes a hybrid SACD disc. Video.