Richard Blackford



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AVAILABILITY Organum Classics

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Epistelsonaten, Werke für eine Orgelwalze
Sonate in C KV 328 [5:20]
Sonate in F KV 244 [4:16]
Fantasie in f KV 594 [12:22]
Sonate in B KV 212 [3:45]
Sonate in Es KV 67 [2:38]
Andante in F KV 616 [7:42]
Sonate in F KV 224 [5:11]
Sonate in D KV 69 [4:10]
Fantasie in f KV 608 [12:08]
Sonate in D KV 144 [3:50]
Sonate in C KV 336 [5:05]
Gerhard Gnann (organ)
rec. Sankt Mariä Empfängnis, Essen-Holsterhausen, Germany, August 2006. DDD
ORGANUM OGM 261128 [69:32]



The problem of making a Mozart CD on the organ is, of course, what one should use to fill up the disc, once the Orgelwalze pieces have run dry. Here Gerhard Gnann comes up with an original and entertaining solution by playing solo arrangements of the Epistle Sonatas, those single movement ‘organ concertos’ which, by the 1770s constituted the only remaining instrumental music in the mass in Salzburg.
 
Gerhard Gnann, professor of organ in Mainz, and a former prize-winner at Bruges and Speyer, makes this a highly recommendable release through his lively and musical playing, always in tune with the essence of each composition. The highly decorative repeats in the KV 594 Fantasia irritated on repeated listening, but his concept of the two fantasias is as compelling as you’ll hear. I especially like the fact that while most interpreters take a quicker tempo in the fugue of KV 608 (why?), Gnann has the bravery to take the fugue even a notch slower than the preceding material.
 
The organ is also something of a surprise. Built in 2005 by Romanus Seifert it is notably better than other recent instruments by this firm which I have heard - why do Organum record so many, incidentally? Aided by a glorious acoustical situation, this large two-manual eclectic instrument features a substantial ‘French’ swell (including a Trompette harmonique extended one octave below 8’ c), excellent flutes, a good, if still slightly acerbic chorus, unequal temperament, and even a slightly hysterical 32’ reeds - listen to track 9 at 10:59. The concept doesn’t thrill me, but it is rare to come across a universal organ from a German-speaking country to which I actually want to listen for the duration of a CD.
 
The booklet contains excellent programme notes, though occasionally the English leaves too much to be desired.
 
Chris Bragg
 



 


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