It’s always a little
exciting to get a recording of the Ingolstadt organ. Stephen
Bicknell once cited the enormous 1977 Klais as one of the pinnacles
of ‘modernist’ organ building. Although spectacularly unsuitable
for almost the entire organ repertoire, some astounding recordings
have come from there; Nicholas Kynaston’s Liszt recording, also
on Guild, defies all rational organ/repertoire analysis in producing
the most compelling Ad Nos ever released; I still can’t
get enough of it. Perhaps the one repertoire area where colossal
foundations, turbo-charged mixtures, downright dangerous chamades
and 10 seconds of acoustic form a cogent and appropriate combination
is the area explored on the present CD made by the organist
of the church, Franz Hauk.
The recording kicks
off with another of the frivolous and commercial concert ditties
for which Naji Hakim seems to have become chiefly known in recent
years. How far away the wonderful Hommage à Igor Stravinsky
from 20 years ago seems now. That said, Ouverture Libanaise,
combining folksongs with rhythmic and melodic elements typical
of Lebanese folk music is a very good piece of its type and
audiences will love it. I’ve been whistling it for days. It
makes for a nice tribute by the organist of La Trinité to his
homeland and I look forward to hearing Hakim play it himself.
One can’t help feel though that, rather like his teacher Langlais,
Hakim’s creativity as a composer has suffered due to the sheer
scale of his output.
The music of Robert
Helmschrott, a former student of Dallapiccola and Professor
at the Hochschule in Munich is new to me. The intentionally
hellish Furioso Infernal, referring implicitly to Dante’s Inferno,
and Psalm 130 (“Out of the Depths have I cried unto thee, O
Lord”) is seriously tough going, especially the final section;
10 minutes of virtually unbroken tutti discords with driving
rhythms. The sheer audacity of the work is almost offensive,
but combined with the sheer audacity of the angry Klais the
effect is gruesomely compelling. Hauk plays this technically
transcendental music quite brilliantly. The more fragmentary
Dans la lumière is an allegorical fantasy depicting light
as a metaphor for heaven.
is by far the best known repertoire on the disc and receives
a very well projected reading. Messiaen’s ideal organ was, in
truth, something of a figment of his imagination, and the aesthetic
match with the present instrument is hardly far-fetched. The
serenity of Alléluias sereins is sensitively captured
although the Prière du Christ is perhaps a little too
restless. Transports de joie is as terrifying as it gets.
Franz Hauk plays
with commitment and no little skill here; this is clearly his
repertoire. It is also the ideal repertoire to match the aesthetic
of Klais’s monster, an, in a sense deeply admirable, period
piece, but from which Klais have regrettably barely moved on.
The booklet is adequate,
the recording is perhaps a little close.
Well conceived, sometimes
thrilling and worth buying.