North German Organ Music Vol. 1 - Stellwagen Organ in St.
Marien Stralsund, Franz TUNDER (1614-1667) Praeludium in g minor [3:54] Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott, chorale fantasia [7:04]
Canzona in G [1:38] Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, 3 versets [5:59] Peter HASSE d.Ä. (?-1640) Praeludium pedaliter in F [2:42] Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, 2 versets [2:11] Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott (BuxWV 199) [3:17] Passacaglia in d minor (BuxWV 161) [6:38] Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (BuxWV 185) [1:40] Ach Gott und Herr (BuxWV 177), 2 versets [2:21] Praeludium in d minor (BuxWV 140) [6:11] Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (BuxWV 209) [2:55] Canzona in g minor (BuxWV 173) [1:26] Johann Christian SCHIEFFERDECKER
(1679-1732) Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, 3 versets [3:42] Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (BWV 739), chorale fantasia
[4:46] Nicolaus BRUHNS (1665-1697) Praeludium in G [8:36]
Martin Rost (organ, Stellwagen, 1659)
rec. 28-29 May 2010, St. Marien, Stralsund, Germany. DDD MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 320 1624-2 [65:52]
North Germany is full of valuable historical organs. The instrument
which Martin Rost plays here is the largest in Europe originally
built in the 17th century without the use of material from older
instruments. It is a musical and architectural monument of unique
quality. It is quite surprising, though, that we don't know
who played the organ at the time it was built and the decades
after. I have searched the internet, but I have only been able
to find information about the builder and the history of the
organ, but nothing about organists of the 17th and 18th century
who were the happy players of this instrument. The booklet also
omits to name names. Therefore all the music on the programme
is by organists who were active in Lübeck.
The organ was built by Friederich Stellwagen from 1653 to 1659.
He was from Halle an der Saale and went to Hamburg where he
worked as an associate under Gottfried Fritsche, who was the
court organ-builder of the Electorate of Saxony. In 1633 or
1634 he settled in Lübeck as an independent organ-builder. The
construction in Stralsund, which was completed only a couple
of months before his death, was the highlight of his career.
Over the centuries the organ has been the victim of various
changes, and was sometimes substantially damaged. Fortunately
it survived the two World Wars, and in the last decade a thorough
restoration and partial reconstruction could be performed. The
discovery of documents about the building from Stellwagen's
time was of great help. More information about the history of
the organ and technical details can be found here.
This organ is pretty much the ideal vehicle for the music of
the North German organ school. The central figure is Dietrich
Buxtehude, who is represented here by various specimens of his
oeuvre. The Praeludium in d minor is written in the stylus
phantasticus with its sequence of contrasting sections.
Komm, heilger Geist, Herre Gott is one of Buxtehude's
most impressive chorale arrangements, with a highly ornamented
cantus firmus in the upper voice. Martin Rost's performance
is faster than I am used to, but it works very well. The Passacaglia
in d minor is one of the earliest organ pieces in Germany
which is based on a basso ostinato. Italian influence
is notable in the slight Canzona in g minor.
What is especially interesting here is that Buxtehude's predecessors
are also represented. First Franz Tunder, whom Buxtehude succeeded
in 1667. He was the founder of the tradition of the Abendmusiken
which were to become famous in Buxtehude's time. Little is known
about his early education, but according to Johann Mattheson,
the German theorist of the early 18th century, he had studied
with Frescobaldi in Rome. Italian influence is noticeable in
the Canzona in G. His organ music requires two manuals
and pedals, and is often quite virtuosic. That is certainly
the case with Jesus Christus, unser Heiland in which
the number of parts rises to five and which includes a section
for double pedal.
Tunder's music is often played and recorded, but his predecessor
in Lübeck, Peter Hasse the Elder, is hardly known. He was the
great-grandfather of Johann Adolf Hasse, the German opera composer
of the 18th century. He was organist in Lübeck from 1616 to
his death in 1640. It is assumed he was a pupil of Jan Pieterszoon
Sweelinck in Amsterdam. During his time in Lübeck the three
organs in the Marienkirche had been enlarged, the large organ
by Friederich Stellwagen. Only two organ works by Hasse are
known, and both are played here. In Allein Gott in der Höh
sei Ehr the cantus firmus is largely unornamented.
Also little known is Buxtehude's successor as organist of the
Marienkirche: Johann Christian Schiefferdecker. He was from
a family of ministers and church musicians who were active in
Weissenfels and Zeitz and has been a pupil at the Thomasschule
in Leipzig. He composed some operas which are all lost. Also
lost are the 22 pieces which he performed as Abendmusiken
in Lübeck, where he succeeded Buxtehude as organist in 1707.
Very little of his organ music has survived, the most important
work being the variations on the chorale Meine Seele erhebt
den Herren, the German rhymed version of the Magnificat.
Nicolaus Bruhns never worked in Lübeck, but studied for a while
with Buxtehude. He became organist in Husum, a town close to
the border with Denmark. He is another typical representative
of the North German organ school. His Praeludium in G
is a brilliant piece, with two pedal parts. It is known that
Johann Sebastian Bach admired and studied this work. He is also
present in this programme, with a chorale fantasia which clearly
shows the influence of Buxtehude. When he studied with his brother
Johann Christoph he had already copied pieces by Buxtehude,
and in 1705 he went to Lübeck to hear and meet the master himself.
He remained longer in Lübeck than planned, and this visit had
a lasting influence on his development as a composer of organ
Martin Rost has been choirmaster and organist of the Marienkirche
in Stralsund since 1997. He is very active as an expert in the
field of organ history and is regularly involved in restoration
projects. He proves an excellent guide who shows all the aspects
of the organ as well as the various styles and genres in the
repertoire of the great masters of the North German organ school.
His performances are very impressive, and the engineer has done
a brilliant job in recording the programme. Interestingly during
the recording the wind was produced by bellows rather than the
modern organ engine. This results in a natural and breathing
sound which is ideal for this kind of music. The only reservation
in regard to the interpretation is the frequent change of registration
during single pieces. The figure of the organ assistant, changing
stops during play, was unknown in the 17th century.
The booklet contains programme notes on music and organ, the
disposition of the organ and the registration of every single
piece. There are also some pictures of detail of the organ.
And on the reverse of the booklet we find a magnificent picture
of this wonderful organ in its full glory.
For organ aficionados this disc is indispensable. If you are
an organist yourself, it may make you envious of Martin Rost.
Johan van Veen
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