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Organum Classics 


Eine Orgelmesse in Dom zu Freiberg
Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1674)
Toccata I FbWV 101 [4:16]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr BWV 662 [7:54]
Canzon III FbWV 303 [4:00]
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott BWV 651 [5:48]
Toccata III FbWV 103 [3:10]
Fantasia III FbWV 203 [5:47]
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654 [6:59]
Toccata IV FbWV 106 [5:41]
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 665 [5:25]
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig BWV 656 [9:27]
Canzon V FbWV 305 [2:26]
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist BWV 667 [2:13]
Christian Skobowsky (organ)
rec. October 2004, Freiberg Dom. DDD

This is the first recording of the new Dom organist in Freiberg, Christian Skobowsky, playing the astoundingly famous organ he has inherited. Skobowsky hails originally from Potsdam, and studied in Dresden and Halle with Hansjürgen Scholze and Volker Bräutigam. Organist in Freiberg since 2002 he has the enviable position of  being responsible for the two Gottfried Silbermann organs, including perhaps his most famous creation of all, the great organ of 1714.

The great organ alone is featured in a programme with a strongly liturgical basis. Using works by Bach and Froberger, Skobowsky has put together an organ mass, albeit a somewhat ecumenical one! Skobowsky points out in his excellent programme note that in the early 18th century, the Lutheran reformation had preserved the most important elements of the Roman rite, while defining itself through its music and chorale singing in particular. The opening Toccata represents the procession therefore, while the following Froberger pieces, the  Canzon  and the Fantasia, represent, following the example of Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali, the epistle and creed, framing, as in the Protestant Mass, the hymn of the day, here represented by Bach’s BWV 651.  The rest of the CD follows in the same manner, the elevation toccata of Froberger for example placed in a pseudo-liturgical context at the end of the would-be Eucharistic prayer, while Bach’s O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig takes the place of the Agnus Dei. Well thought-through, cleverly conceived programming this for which the performer deserves our congratulations. The addition of the Cathedral’s bells at both the beginning and end only add to the strength of the concept. 

What of the playing? Its all good actually, though I must say that I find the Froberger works are more convincing in general than those by Bach. Skobowsky has a good feeling for the inherent rhetoric of the ‘normal’ toccatas, and for the timelessness of the elevation toccata. The Bach pieces satisfy me less; BWV 662 feels slightly clumsy, partly a result of the stilted ornaments. Skobowsky’s treatment of ornaments in general puzzles me with his inconsistent treatment of the termination of longer ornaments especially uncomfortable. BWV 651 feels for me a little too frantic, though BWV 665 has precisely the right gravitas. The third verse of O Lamm Gottes BWV 656 seems unnaturally heavy with too equal accents even taking into account the ‘heavy’ time signature. 

The organ remains one of the greatest in the world and it sounds as wonderful as ever here. Even if Skobowsky’s playing isn’t entirely to my liking, this is worth having both for the instrument and the imaginative way in which it is displayed, and for the excellent programming. 

Chris Bragg 


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