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Lyrita New Recording
Sarah Beth Briggs
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Präludium und Fuge über BACH [13:59]
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen [20:02]
Fantasie und Fuge über den Choral ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem
rec. Passau Dom 30 April, 1 May 1984, 9 May 2005. DDD
Weinberger is best known as the editor of the complete organ
works of Johann Ludwig Krebs - the definitive edition. He
is also admired for his recording, on often interesting and
little known historic organs, of the complete organ works
of J.S. Bach for CPO. Here Christophorus present a re-issue
of his 1984 recording of the Ad Nos Fantasia of Liszt,
together with new recordings of the ‘BACH’ Fantasia and
Fugue, and the variations on ‘Weinen, Klagen’.
organ has to be commented upon first though. The Dom in Passau
is reputedly the largest baroque church north of the Alps.
Perhaps more famously it contains what was for many years
the largest church organ in the world. The postcards which
can still be bought all over Passau still claim this to be
the case, even though it has long since been overtaken by
several organs in the USA. To describe it as a single organ
is in any case far-fetched. It is in fact five separate organs,
scattered all over the church, no fewer than three of which
have their own consoles. The claim is based then on the fact
that the organ also has a so-called ‘generalspieltisch’ allowing
the player to control all five organs (the Hauptorgel, Evangelienorgel,
Epistelorgel, Chorororgel and Fernorgel), totalling 229 stops,
and nearly 18,000 pipes. It was built initially by Steinmeyer
in 1928, and thoroughly revised by the local firm of Eisenbarth
in 1976-1981. I visited it briefly last year, and took in
one of the almost daily recitals given there for the tourists.
Its size seemed to be its only interesting feature; the echo
effects possible between parts of the organ at opposite ends
of the giant church were cute, but hardly memorable. The
reeds were ugly and the bass frequencies were completely
sucked up by the carpet of tourists - all of whom seemed
to have come from Minnesota. At least it was loud. Eisenbarth’s
work clearly obscured much of the original late-romantic
character of the instrument. Listen, as an interesting comparison,
to Peter Sykes’s Reger CD ‘Maximum Reger’ on the Raven label,
recorded on the Steinmeyer organ in Altoona, PA, built just
three years after the Passau organ (Raven OAR-430).
the Passau organ sounds a little better than when I visited.
The room is at least more reverberant when empty, and while
I’m not really seduced, Weinberger’s brilliant and committed
performances, and imaginative use of the vast resources available
to him make for enjoyable listening. Of the performances, ‘Weinen,
Klagen’ is, at 20 minutes, at the slow end of the scale,
though colourfully registered and expressively played, while ‘Ad
nos’, at 27 minutes is among the very quickest recordings.
Interestingly this dates from twenty years before the other
recordings. Weinberger’s playing is perhaps slightly more
aggressive, though always exciting, and the recorded sound
is more brutal and lacks breadth.
performances alone make this well worth having, and recordings
of the Passau monster are comparatively thin on the ground.
The organ’s triumph of quantity over quality however means
it can’t be a first choice recommendation. Again I would
recommend Nicholas Kynaston’s recording of Ad Nos on
Guild as the essential recording of the work (GMCD
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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