RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Prelude and Fugue in G minor [7:48]
Chorale Prelude & Fugue on “O Traurigkeit” [7:59]
Symphony no. 4 in E minor, movement 4 (arr. Pipe) [11:11]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Funérailles (arr. Kynaston) [12:37]
Consolation in D flat [4:11]
Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema BACH (arr. Guillou) [15:59]
Il penseroso (arr. Pipe)[4:27]
Ave Maria von Arcadelt [6:58]
David Pipe (organ)
rec. 2-4 March 2012 York Minster, UK
SFZ MUSIC SFZM0512 [71:10]
Brahms and Liszt are crowd-pleasers in any concert programme, Romantic giants of orchestral forces. Organists are always rather pleased to play pieces by composers that the general public will have heard of; Bach excluded. This debut solo recording from David Pipe - no name jokes please - showcases the best of the organ repertoire that these great men wrote, as well as several transcriptions. The original works work fantastically well on the organ of York Minster, originally a Walker but much altered. It has the vast tonal palette of 8’ registers to give the warm sonority that is expected of Romantic instruments. The first Brahms piece, the G minor Prelude, is clear and rhythmical yet exciting and unexpected; the Fugue is well controlled. The other original Brahms work on the disc, Chorale Prelude & Fugue on “O Traurigkeit”, begins with a beautifully played chorale prelude, showing the clear influence of Bach as well as foreshadowing the later chorale preludes. The solo stop used here is clear and the sound is round and warm. The Fugue, which doesn’t use a strict form as the pedal never plays the subject but a statement of the chorale melody, contains just the right amount of rubato - Pipe points out the moments of expression without overtly making the listener aware of what he is doing. Liszt’s own transcription of a piano piece Consolation in D flat gives the listener a chance to experience some of the quieter sounds on the organ as well as demonstrating Pipe’s ability to “orchestrate” the piece using registration changes. The same can be said for Ave Maria von Arcadelt, which is a musical reflection on the motet attributed to Jacob Arcadelt.
The central and most impressive presence is Liszt’s Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema BACH which is a stunning piece. It obsessively uses the BACH motif: B flat A C B in German notation. This was originally written for organ but was transcribed for piano. In 2005 French organ virtuoso Jean Guillou created a version based on a fusion of the organ original and the piano reworking. This resulted in something difficult but not necessarily more enjoyable than the original organ version. The sure-fingered Pipe really takes this music by the throat and makes it his own. The virtuosic flourishes originally intended for the piano, cause him no problems. The relentless theme is characterised each time so that it couldn’t possibly sound tired or over-used.
Pipe’s own transcriptions work very well. His ability to perceive the organ in terms of orchestral colours means that his transcriptions are thought of in this way. The last movement of Brahms’ 4th Symphony has drive and passion comparable to orchestral recordings. Liszt’s Il penseroso, this time transcribed from a piano piece, relates less well to the original due to the different forces but still makes an interesting project. A delicate and assured performance works to the performer’s credit.
The choice of repertoire, instrument and player combine to make this the perfect candidate for a CD of the month. Subsequent recordings from David Pipe should be eagerly awaited.
Sure-fingered and footed, this recording is truly excellent and will appeal especially to those who don’t usually listen to organ music.
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