Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Gustav MERKEL (1827-1885)
Organ Works - Vol. III

Sonata no.4 in F minor, op.115 [17:07]
Postlude, op.44 no.3 [2:30]
Chorale Studies - Ten Variations on the Chorale 'Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, op.116 [16:21]
Sonata no.5 in D minor, op.118 [14:23]
Fantasy in D minor, op.176 [8:07]
Sonata no.6 in E minor, op.137 [18:28]
Halgeir Schiager (1821/1896 Buchholz organ)
rec. St-Marien-Kirche, Barth, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, 19-21 May 2006. DDD
SIMAX PSC 1275 [76:56]

Experience Classicsonline

This is the third of four CDs by Halgeir Schiager of the most important organ works of the north German composer Gustav Merkel. The fourth (PSC1320) was released concurrently. The first and second volumes were released together in 2009 (PSC1273,1274 - see review of both).
Norwegian organist Halgeir Schiager's most notable recordings hitherto have been his five volumes of Czech composer Petr Eben's organ music for Hyperion (CDA 67194-8, released 2000-06), for which he was widely praised. He comes to Merkel as an academic expert on the composer, having presented his doctoral thesis at the Norwegian Academy of Music on Merkel's organ music. In all his Merkel recordings, Schiager performs on instruments that the composer himself would have used, in this case a full-blooded 19th-century Carl August Buchholz organ in the St-Marien-Kirche at Barth on Germany's Baltic coast. Here, once again, he is a fine advocate for Merkel's undeservedly neglected music, technically assured and winningly confident.
In his lifetime Merkel was pretty famous as an organist, and his own music was popular not only in Europe, but even in America. Like many 19th century composers, however, he fell victim to fashion, dictated in part by self-appointed mavens, who derided his music as 'derivative' - meaning simply that it was nostalgic and non-innovative rather than forward-looking and exploratory. Merkel is not entirely forgotten today, in fact - he does at least have an entry in the New Grove dictionary, albeit lacking the standard list of works. His organ method continued to be used by students right through the 20th century.
As the booklet notes indicate, Merkel's organ music is reminiscent of that of the younger Josef Rheinberger, himself sadly rather neglected - a more meaningful reference might be Mendelssohn or Max Reger. Moreover, Merkel spent the last thirty years of his life as organist in Dresden. Given also his Lutheran beliefs, it is hardly revelatory to say that the spirit of the 'Dresden Hofcompositeur' Johann Sebastian Bach also looms large in these works - nowhere more so than in the terrific fugue that closes the Sonata in D minor.
In his programme Schiager includes a single Postlude from Merkel's four op.44. In his notes he does not explain the absence of the remaining three, which do not appear on any of the other volumes. On the evidence of his miniature firework, more's the pity! The dramatic Fantasy in D minor is longer but quite similar, with an interpolated reflective passage, and one of the shamefully few of Merkel's works still in the organ repertoire. The Chorale Studies op.116 are superbly paced and sometimes brilliantly virtuosic. These ten colourful variations on 'Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten" really ought to be performed frequently, not to mention recorded by others. Like the other works in Schiager's recital, this is a first recording.
Unusually, all nine of Merkel's Organ Sonatas are in a minor key. They come in the same traditional format: three five-minute movements, basically fast-slow-fast. Their classical structure, detail, conciseness and melodic and harmonic attractiveness will surely leave any audience wondering why they are not still appearing on programmes across Europe and America! The spectacular chorale-based fugue that concludes the E minor Sonata offers a tantalising glimpse of Merkel letting his hair down, and leaves the listener eager to get hold of volume 4!
The attractively designed English-German-Norwegian booklet can be downloaded in PDF form for free here. Schiager's notes are fairly dry, focusing on technical description, but there is a lot of detail, including a separate article on the different kinds of organs Merkel was familiar with, and a very full disposition and piece-by-piece registrations section.
Editing is very good, but sound quality is reasonable rather than brilliant, slightly muffled in the deeper notes, with a hint of distortion in the loudest sections. One other minor quibble is the lack of composition dates, though it may be that there is no precise information on these.
Collected reviews and contact at


















































































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.