Edwin H. LEMARE (1865-1934)
Organ Works - Vol. 2
Marche Heroique, Op. 74 (1907) [5:07]
Arcadian Idyll, Op. 52 (1907) (Serenade [2:08]; Musette [2:24]; Solitude [2:57])
Symphony No. 2 for Organ in D-minor, Op. 50 (1906) (Maestoso con fuoco [8:34]; Adagio patetico [7:38]; Scherzo [4:20]; Allegro giusto [8:30])
Concert Fantasia-Improvisation No. 1, Op. 91 (1912) [9:13]
Lars Rosenlund Norremark (organist)
rec. 12-15 August 2011, Aarhus Cathedral. DDD
CDKLASSIK CDK120 [51:27]
In the early part of the 20th century Edwin H. Lemare was the foremost concert organist in the English-speaking world. His compositions fell into the categories of organ showpieces, more sentimental numbers, and transcriptions and fantasias on well-known themes. He also wrote some more serious works. On this new disc Lars Norremark plays one of Lemare’s works in each of these categories.
Lemare’s Marche Heroique is effective, but perhaps the least stimulating of the works here. The three pieces of the Arcadian Idyll are based on the same thematic material, with the final “Solitude” being quite moving. Lemare was renowned for his improvisations and the score of the Concert Fantasia was actually transcribed note for note from a Welte recording of Lemare improvising. It is based on “The Sailor’s Hornpipe”, “The British Grenadiers” and “Rule Britannia”. The thematic development and combination of the three well-known themes document Lemare’s natural abilities in these areas, with “Auld Lang Syne” being thrown in at the end.
Development and counterpoint are definitely to the fore in the Symphony No. 2, originally written for full orchestra and later transcribed for organ by the composer. Although Lemare first became famous for his organ transcriptions of the works of Wagner and other composers, one still feels that the this piece would be heard to best advantage in its original form. The opening of the first movement is reminiscent of the Franck D-minor symphony, with an Elgarian second subject. Both of these are developed in true symphonic fashion and the use of the second theme at the end of the movement is masterly. The slow movement is convincingly elegiac, slightly reminiscent of Stanford. I found the scherzo the least successful and least orchestral in concept of the four movements, but the final Allegro giusto is very convincing and rises to true eloquence towards the end.
The organ in Aarhus Cathedral has a rather brittle sound, certainly not what Lemare himself would have been used to in the municipal thunderers of 100 years ago. This only proves a real drawback in the gentle Arcadian Idyll. Otherwise, the recording quality is good. I could have wished that Norremark showed more of Lemare’s famed rhythmic sense, especially in the shorter works, but he rises to the occasion in most of the Symphony. Curiously the text booklet contains a lengthy article by Norremark on 19th century performance practice, but almost nothing on Lemare or the works on the disc. I have not heard this performer’s first volume of Lemare’s works [see review], but based on the inclusion of the Symphony No. 2 (not recorded on Frederick Hohman’s three disk traversal of Lemare’s works) this disc is a must for both organ enthusiasts and those interested in music of the Edwardian period.
William Kreindler 

Convincing performances of major works from the symphonic organ tradition. Can we ask for more Lemare recordings?