Gosh, this is out of left-field. The story
goes something like this. Stephen Ketterer is the president
of a pharmaceuticals company specialising in HIV/AIDS research.
A keen organist since the age of 14, and not being constrained
by the financial limitations of trying to earn a living playing
the instrument, Mr Ketterer added a very large music room to
his house and then commissioned Rudolph von Beckerath to build
a three manual organ - 33 stops, with a 16’ Principal in the
façade - to his design.
tonal design of the organ is bizarre enough, including a Principal
Céleste in Great, and a solo division as the third manual with
the following, highly unlikely specification:
Cor de Nuit
of that what you will. As if the multi-lingual approach wasn’t
confusing enough! Strange that Mr Ketterer would turn to Beckerath
of all people to make a ‘Neo-Classical with buttons on’ organ
when several American builders have extended the neo-classical
- and then from a far more highly informed standpoint - into
a stunningly mature eclectic style (Fritts, Pasi et al). Also
strange given the obvious preferred repertoire of Mr Ketterer
that he should buy an organ with such a neo-classical leaning
quality of the organ is good but not first rate. The Swell reeds
have a rough quality, (were they really voiced on site?) and
fight horribly with the too-high Swell mixture (track 1 @ 0’10
among others). The Great chorus is good but not special, the
strings pretty. The whole rather lacks poetry. This is an organ
built in a factory and not in a workshop.
of Stephen Ketterer’s playing? Well, you have to say, for someone
who spends the majority of his life doing something else, its
pretty impressive, and I have reviewed discs here by professional
organists who couldn’t play at this level. The choice of repertoire
is, barring the Bach, pretty vapid in general, but I can honestly
say that the only track which truly gives the game away is ‘O
Mensch bewein’ BWV 622 where the ornaments are persistently
clumsy and upset the rhythm. For the rest the playing is solid,
if sometimes rather naïve. Whether Mr Ketterer considers himself
to be a professional organist or not, I’m not sure. He mentions
having studied with Donald Sutherland, the head of organ at
Peabody, but whether this was within the context of an organ
degree we’re not told.
programme notes, incidentally, tell us nothing about the music
at all, only about Mr Ketterer’s friends each of whom he associates
with one or other piece of music presented here. Its all toe-curlingly
twee, and, unless you happen to know the artist and his friends
personally, its not going to improve your day.
is only recommendable for novelty value then, although, as you
can probably tell, its hard not to be just a little jealous -
alright I admit it!