year 2003 marks the 250th anniversary of the death of Gottfried
Silbermann, one of the greatest organ builders ever. Originally
from Saxony, Silbermann is renowned for the quality of his organs.
These instruments were especially appreciated by Johann Sebastian
Bach. This recording, the first in a series of eight recordings
published by Querstand, features works performed by Ewald Kooiman
on four different Silbermann organs.
is only fitting that the majority of these works are by Bach;
opening with Bach's great Toccata in D minor, performed with an
interesting variety of registrations, this disc features excellent
recordings that truly show off the quality of the organs used.
The Opening toccata displays the subtle tones and colours of the
Freiberg/St. Petri organ, which has resounding bass notes and
an aerien treble. Ewald Kooiman gives a fine performance of this
long work, though at times he is a bit unyielding.
Tiefenau organ has a vastly different sound: less resonance, less
echo. The listener feels much closer to this smaller organ. The
four chorales played on this small organ are ideally suited to
its intimate sound, and Kooiman plays them with great restraint.
It is almost as though he were playing them on a positive organ.
While this is not a powerful instrument, it has beautiful colors
that work very well with this type of music.
Niederschöna organ is another instrument with a "small" sound,
with little resonance in its church. It too is well suited to
the chorales. Von Gott will ich nicht lassen works especially
well here, with its haunting registration, and slow, subtle melody.
Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf is much brighter
and more powerful. The instrument sounds as though it needs a
larger home to resonate more strongly.
the Großhartmannsdorf organ is perhaps the best sounding
instrument on this disc. It has a level of resonance that is just
right; neither too much nor too little. Kooiman's performance
of Bach's great set of variations on Ach, was soll ich Sünder
machen? is a bit restrained, but he runs the organ through
a wide range of registrations in this work and shows of all of
which it is capable. I especially appreciate how Kooiman, with
this organ, as with the others, plays the music, not the instrument.
He does not attempt to blow the listener away with the volume
and scale of the organ but rather uses it to express as many different
tones and emotions as possible.
recording is a delight for lovers of organ music and especially
those who appreciate the different sounds of such great instruments.
Querstand have come up with a beautiful presentation for the disc.
The case is a small "hardcover" book, with excellent notes and
photos. Organ enthusiasts will want to snap this up, as well as
the seven other discs due out in the series.