Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750), arr. Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933)
Capriccio (from: Toccata in G major, BWV916) [3:18]
Fantasie und Fuge in A minor, BWV904 [13:53]
Symphonie Pastorale (Sinfonia from: Christmas Oratorio, BWV248) [7:40]
Toccata in E minor, BWV914 [13:14]
Choral-Improvisation und Fuge (from: Singet dem Herrn, BWV225) [9:09]
Echo (from: Partita in B minor, BWV831) [3:54]
Toccata in D minor, BWV913 [20:13]
Adagio (Air Célèbre) (Aria from: Suite in D major, BWV1068) [7:58]
Sverker Jullander (organ)
rec. Vasa Church, Gothenburg, 28-30 June 2009. DDD
The German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert was not a great organist, but he did write a lot of magnificent music for the organ, most of which still suffers from unforgivable neglect. Aside from scores of original works, Karg-Elert also made many transcriptions/arrangements, of which this latest release by Toccata dishes up his complete tribute to his great predecessor and fellow Leipziger, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Toccata's website indicates that these are all premiere recordings, but the Adagio (Air Célèbre) has been done at least twice before, by Arturo Sacchetti (Arts Music 47555, 1999) and by Wolfgang Baumgratz (MDG 3200761, 1997), who also recorded the Chorale Improvisation and Fugue on the same disc.
Most of Bach's keyboard works here are not unusual heard on the organ - indeed, Bach scholar Robert Marshall has argued that the Toccatas were intended for it, not for the widely supposed harpsichord. All of them are, in any case, and as might be expected, supremely suited to the organ, and Karg-Elert's time and effort, not to mention his musical intelligence - evidenced, for example, by his choice of registrations to reproduce Bach's original orchestral colours - have been far from wasted in making these transcriptions that Bach himself would likely have admired. The Chorale Improvisation and Fugue in particular is an inspired, convincing melding of two separate vocal sections of Bach's Singet dem Herrn, BWV225, and a welcome addition, simple but rousing, to the organ literature.
The recital ends peacefully, as Swedish scholar-organist Sverker Jullander takes the "Air Célèbre" at a delightful Sunday morning stroll in the park after church of a pace: Arturo Sacchetti is nearly a minute and a half quicker at 6'31, whereas Wolfgang Baumgratz hurtles through at a blistering 5'27.
Recording quality is pretty good. The 57-stop, four-manual organ itself is modern, originally built in 1909, altered in the Forties, and then restored to its original design in 2002. Its sound is robustly Germanic, its dynamic range impressive.
The booklet has excellent detail, right down to the footnotes, and is well written. This CD is a generously packed tribute from one great organ composer to another, performed with distinction by Jullander.
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A generously packed tribute from one great organ composer to another, performed with distinction.