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The Organs of Gottfried Silbermann Vol. 2
Bad Lausick:
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750): Partita "Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig" BWV 768 (Choral und Variationen I bis XI)
Rötha, St. Marien:
Georg Andreas SORGE (1703-1778): Sonate F-Dur (Ohne Bezeichnung (Allegro) - Andante - Aria - Fuga)
Schweikershain:
ANONYMOUS (18. Jh.): Variationen über "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman"
Johann Sebastian BACH: Choralvorspiel "Nun ruhen alle Wälder" BWV 756
Glauchau:
Johann Sebastian BACH: Praeludium und Fuge C-Dur BWV 531
Christian Gotthilf TAG (1735-1811): Zwölf kurze und leichte Orgelvorspiele: Vivace e maestoso - Andante molto - Vivace - Adagio - Andantino - Andantino - Largo molto - Andante molto - Adagio - Larghetto - Largo - Grave (Auf die in phrygischer Tonart gesetzten Melodien: Es wolle uns Gott gnädig; Aus tiefer Noth schrey; Da Jesus an dem Kreutze)
Felix Friedrich, organs
Rec: April 2001, Bad Lausick, Rötha, St. Marien, Schweikershain, Glauchau.
QUERSTAND VKJK 0207 [69.41]

This recording, the second in a series of eight recordings published by Querstand, features works performed by Felix Friedrich on four different Gottfried Silbermann organs. 2003 sees the 250th anniversary of the death of Silbermann, a renowned organ builder, and one whose instruments were favoured by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Who better to represent the music of Silbermann's time than Johann Sebastian Bach? And what better work than the choral and variations set Partita "Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig"? This piece gives Friedrich the opportunity to show off the many sounds the Bad Lausick organ can offer. This instrument, which is not overly imposing, can be both forceful and subtle, and its registrations range from powerful to sublime. The opening choral is played with energy, and the third with the lightest touch and sounds. All in all, the performance of this piece is an excellent presentation of both music and organ.

The sonata by Georg Andreas Sorge, played on the Rötha, St. Marien organ, is very much like one of Bach's trio sonatas, and Friedrich plays it in a lively, rapid tempo. Its playful third movement is almost like Mozart, and the closing fugue, though simple, does justice to this organ which has a bright sound.

The variations on Ah, vous dirai-je, maman, performed on the Schweikershain organ, are disappointing. This is a richly resonant organ, with a wide palette of tones. Such a simple piece disappoints on a disc like this. I would have liked to hear something more potent - a fugue, perhaps - than such a juvenile work. The brief Bach choral is excellent, but leaves me wishing that this instrument had been used for more serious music.

Finally, the Glauchau organ has a deep bass sound, and resounds strongly. The Bach prelude and fugue is ideal for this instrument. However it underscores the lack of truly imaginative music on this disc. This is the only "real" fugue on the recording, and the organ is a great instrument for fugues, especially those by Bach. The twelve organ pieces by Christian Gotthilf Tag are a bit of a letdown; this fine organ deserves better. At the end, I cannot help but decry the poor match between this instrument and the music played on it. This is the best sounding organ on this disc, and it would have been wonderful to hear a Bach trio sonata, or one of the great toccata and fugue sets. Alas, superficial music is all you get.

This recording is a disappointment. Four great organs, well recorded, but with music that is not up to the quality of the instruments. The presentation is excellent: the disc is held in a small "hardcover" book, with copious notes and photos. Organ enthusiasts will want to snap this up, though casual listeners may find the music lacking in substance and imagination.

Kirk McElhearn



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