This is a follow-up
recording to a previous CD by the brothers de Jong featuring
their own transcriptions of Bach cantata movements for organ
duet. The previous CD had been recorded on the Hinsz organ at
Bolsward. The current release features the 1727 Christiaan Müller
organ in the Grote Kerk of Leeuwaarden. This was the first large
instrument by the builder who would later go on to build the
organ of the St Bavo in Haarlem, perhaps the most famous organ
in the world. The Leeuwaarden organ however escaped a ‘restoration’
of the sort the Haarlem organ received in the early 1960s and
is, therefore, much better preserved, retaining its enormously
intense principals and reeds. It sounds excellent here, its
choice being surprisingly effective for this instrumental music.
This is especially the case when one considers the nature of
such an instrument which is geared almost exclusively to the
accompaniment of congregational singing.
I am a little sceptical
about the organ duet genre in general. Too often, both in concert
and on disc I have been too aware of the effort taken to overcome
the synchronisation of hands and feet, resulting in mechanical
music-making which seems to prove little other than that organists
can indeed play duets. That, I am happy to report, is
certainly not the case here. The music-making is, for the most
part, natural and unforced, crucially with a very present sense
of the role of the basso continuo from the secondo player.
The only tracks which don’t entirely convince are the slowest.
'Ich habe genug' especially seems too static, with too many
accents on the smallest note values somewhat compromising the
natural flow. Klaus Mehrtens would struggle to keep going I
fear. The registrational recipe on the other hand is delicious,
the Dulciaan of the Bovenwerk providing the obbligato, while
the Rugwerk Praestant 8’ (plus tremulant) provides the ‘Klaus’.
This is typical of the colourful and sensitive use of the organ
found throughout the disc, and all registrations are listed
in the booklet.
By contrast the
booklet is in general something of a let-down, lacking any personal
input from the performers - something about their approach to
the project and motivation for it seems essential - and featuring
a rather amateurish English text. The specification of the organ
also fails to tell us the sources of the stops; not everything
is from 1727 of course.
But, overall, this
is different, very well done, performed on a really first-rate
instrument and is thus very enjoyable and recommendable.