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  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
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Organum Classics

Sonate in f op. 65 No. 1 [16:17]
Praludium in c minor (1841) [2:58]
Praludium und Fuge C minor op. 37 No. 1 [8:21]
Canzonetta g minor op. 12 arr. Heinrich Walther [5:21]
Sinfonie Nr 5 in d minor Reformation op. 107 arr. Heinrich Walther [31:54]
Heinrich Walther (organ)
rec. St Marien, Barth, Germany, August 2004. DDD
ORGANUM OGM 250061 [65:18]

An engrossing Mendelssohn recording this, featuring the first sonata and the c minor Prelude and Fugue together with two lesser known shorter works. One is a transcription of part of the op. 12 String Quartet, and a transcription, surprisingly effective, of the fifth symphony, the 'Reformation', realised by the performer, Heinrich Walther.

Walther is a former student of Darasse and Szathmary, and also of Larry Palmer and Robert Anderson in Dallas. I enjoy the expressive nature of his playing, though occasionally his rhythmic freedom goes too far for me. His approach to the 'Reformation' transcription seems to be very much one aimed at creating a piece of organ literature, rather than using an organ simply to mimic an orchestra. I find the present approach always more successful I have to say; the match between music and instrument here seems especially apt.

The organ is worthy of special mention. It dates from 1821, ten years before the composition of the fifth symphony, and was built by the Berlin organ builder Buchholz as a two manual instrument with no fewer than 42 stops. Especially remarkable are the brilliant choruses and the small number of gutsy reeds, including a 32' Contraposaune, while the variety of 8' tone proves invaluable in the transcriptions. Originally housed in a classical case, the organ is now housed in a neo-gothic case from 1863, somewhat at odds with the classical nature of the organ. A third manual, containing mostly 8' stops in a swell box was added by Karl Grüneberg in 1896, and has been preserved. Restored by Kristian Wegscheider in 2003, the organ now provides a fabulous glimpse into the world of German organ building in the period prior to the advent of Friedrich Ladegast. I am bowled over by the sound, a better Mendelssohn organ would be hard to imagine.

Organum again hit the mark with an original, superbly played release featuring an unusual transcription and a wonderful, little-known organ. Very highly recommended.

Chris Bragg


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