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Mallorca Edition Historic Organs
Martin Schmeding (organ)
rec. 2011, Sant Abdreu, Santanyi (Soler, Scarlatti, Lidón);
Sant Francese de Paula, Campos (Heredia); Sant Pere, Sencelles (Bruna).
Reviewed in CD stereo
CYBELE RECORDS 001404 [6 SACDs: 458:29]

The focus of this fascinating release is Mallorca, one of Spain's Balearic Islands, situated in the Mediterranean and famous for its beaches, sheltered coves, mountains and Roman and Moorish remains. This exotic location houses the three historic instruments featured in this, what I can only describe as, lavish production from the Düsseldorf-based record label Cybele.

What attracts me to the Martin Schmeding/Cybele collaborations is their keenness to explore a variety of instruments in their productions. This was one of the compelling factors of their mammoth Max Reger Edition, where thirteen historic Sauer and Walcker instruments located throughout Germany were used, each chosen for its unique qualities to highlight the individual character of the music.  I had the good fortune to review this.

Three organs have been chosen for this set. The first three SACDs feature the 1762 Jordi Bosch instrument in St. Andreu, Santanyi. Originally built for the monastery of Santo Domingo in Palma, after the Dominican monastery was abolished in 1837 it was moved to its present location. It has been carefully restored by Gerhard Grenzing. On it Schmeding performs music by Padre Antonio Soler, Domenico Scarlatti and José Lidón. The other two discs present the 1823 Gabriel Thomàs organ in Campos, on which the organist plays music by Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia, and the 1746 instrument located in Sant Pere, Sancelles, built by Mateu Bosch, father of Jordi, showcasing the works of Pablo Bruna.

The Jordi Bosch organ in Santanyi is the jewel in the crown among Mallorcan organs, with an impressive facade. The first three SACDs demonstrate its glories. SACD 1 is devoted to the music of the Iberian composer Padre Antonio Soler. He studied with Domenico Scarlatti and his sonatas bear an influence. They abound in melodic inventiveness and ingenuity and are awash with harmonic colour. They also give some indication of the composer's impressive technique. The sheer power and thrill of the Sonata 12 'de la Coroniz' en Sol (Fa) Mayor is testimony to the splendour of the Santanyi instrument. Sonata 32 en Modo Dorico displays some intricate ornamentation. The famous, dazzling Fandango ends the disc. José Lidón (SACD 3) is a name I'm completely unfamiliar with and hardly any of his music has been recorded. Chronologically, he is the youngest of the composers here - 1748-1827.  In his notes Schmeding says of Lidón that his music is 'bound up with the tonal and compositional advances of the late Baroque and point the way toward early Romanticism'. He had a Jordi Bosch organ at his disposal, and his works were intended for such an instrument. I found less variety in colour on this disc, but the diaphanous glow of Sonata para Clave in G is particularly striking. 

Scarlatti on the organ! That's a first for me, and I didn't know quite what to expect. It's certain that K287, 288 and 328 were intended by the composer for the King of Instruments and, indeed, K287 is titled   'Per Organo da camera con due Tastatura Flautato è Trombone'. Listening to SACD 2 assuaged any initial misgivings I had; Scarlatti on the organ works extremely well. To illustrate the impressive colouristic range of the Jordi Bosch organ, listen to the burnished trumpet fanfare of K.159. The mighty power of the instrument can be sampled in K274 and  K473. Yet, it's not all about power. I love the delicate avian sonorities of the opening bars of K33 and contrasting luminous woodwind sparkle with brassy declamation of  K288. Schmeding’s resourcefulness in registrations is immensely appealing.

The earliest composer represented is Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia, and Schmeding plays his music on the the 1823 Gabriel Thomàs organ in Campos. The instrument was left incomplete due to financial reasons at the time of its original completion. Restoration work was carried out in 1981 with some additional registers. Aguilera de Heredia wrote a substantial amount of vocal and organ works for church usage, and this translates into the devotional and reverential cast of the music. He came to be regarded as the most important Spanish composer of church music from his generation. Pablo Bruna's music is recorded on a 1746 instrument by Jordi Bosch's father Mateu, housed in Sant Pere, Sancelles. Despite the limited registers of the instrument, it offers a great variety of registration options. Of Bruna's thirty-three surviving works, all but one are for organ. The majority of these are called tientos, a style popular in late seventeenth century Spain. Schmeding offers several fine examples here. They are notable for their lively rhythms. I found Bruna's music lighter in texture than much of the other music featured, but I'm glad to make its acquaintance.

SACD 6 is something of a bonus. In two parts, Mirjam Wiesemann is in conversation with organ builder Gerhard Grenzing, and then with Martin Schmeding at the console of Jordi Bosch Organ in Santanyí, where the organist illustrates his discussion with musical examples. As the dialogue is in German, I wasn't able to benefit, unfortunately.

What I enjoy most about Schmeding's performances is his ability to rejuvenate the music, bringing it to life with such freshness. There's a satisfying marriage of stunning virtuosity and poetic vision.  His imaginative choices of registration invest the music with so much radiance and colour. Ornamentation is tasteful and skillfully executed.

I cannot but sing the praises of this high quality production. The six SACDs are housed in a sturdy gatefold, with 95 page booklet attached. The beautifully illustrated annotations, in German and English, have been contributed by Mirjam Wiesmann, Martin Schmeding and Gerhard Grenzing. They supply useful backgound and context to the instruments played and music performed. Sound quality, as with all Cybele's recordings I have encountered, is top notch.

Stephen Greenbank

Link to my Max Reger Edition review:

Previous review: Dominy Clements (Recording of the Month)

Complete contents

CD 1 [80:20]
Padre Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)
Sonata 12 'de la Coroniz' en Sol (Fa) Mayor [4:16]
Sonata 32 en Modo Dorico [3:59]
Sonata 33 en Sol Mayor [3:55]
Sonata 4 en Sol Mayor [3:58]
Sonata 49 en Modo Dorico [4:04]
Sonata 117 en Modo Dorico (Re Menor) [2:40]
Sonata 28 en Do Mayor [3:31]
Sonata 65 - Intento con Movimiento contrario en La Menor [5:40]
Sonata 44 en Do Mayor [4:35]
Sonata 48 en Modo Dorico [3:58]
Sonata 104 en Modo Dorico (Re Menor) [3:15]
Sonata 80 en Modo Dorico [6:02]
Sonata pastoril 42 en Mi Mayor [5:13]
Sonata de Clarines 54 en Do Mayor [4:54]
Sonata 24 en Re Menor [6:31]
Fandango [13:39]

CD 2 [76:44]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata K. 159 in C (B) [2:39]
Sonata K. 1 in d [2:54]
Sonata K. 32 in d [1:14]
Sonata K. 33 in D [3:16]
Sonata K. 93 in g [4:17]
Sonata K. 274 in F [2:42]
Sonata K. 2 in G [2:09]
Sonata K. 287 in C 'Per Organo da camera con due Tastatura Flautato è Trombone' [2:35]
Sonata K. 288 in C [2:02]
Sonata K. 61 in a [3:40]
Sonata K. 30 in g - Fuga. [4:41]
Sonata K. 82 in F [3:03]
Sonata K. 380 in D (E) [2:59]
Sonata K. 328 in G [3:12]
Sonata K. 12 in g [2:09]
Sonata K. 417 in d - Fuga. [5:27]
Sonata K. 52 in d [4:52]
Sonata K. 31 in g [2:53]
Sonata K. 255 in C [2:49]
Sonata K. 473 in B [2:35]
Sonata K. 58 in c [3:18]
Sonata K. 330 in C [2:09]
Sonata K. 513 in C - Pastorale. [3:09]
Sonata K. 377 in h [2:31]
Sonata K. 517 in d [3:13]

CD 3 [74:09]
José LIDÓN (1748-1827)
Seis Piezas o Sonatas sueltas [25:08]
Sonata para Clave in G [2:54]
Sonata de 1er tono [3:30]
Capricho de órgano [2:50]
Adagio y Allegro comodo [3:28]
Cuatro Piezas para la Misa [15:30]
Sonata in F [4:32]
Varios juegos por diferentes tonos de imitación, en tema de sonata, para varios registros [5:49]
Sonata de 6° tono in F - Preludio [:06]
CD 4 [84:05]
Sebastián Aguilera de HEREDIA (1561-1627)
Obra de 1° tono (Salve Regina) [5:20]
Tiento de 8° tono por de la sol re [4:06]
Tiento de 4° tono de falsas [4:33]
Registro baixo de 1° tom [5:21]
Dos vajos de 8° tono [4:21]
Obra de 8° tono por ge sol re ut [4:20]
Vajo de 1° tono [6:08]
Obra de 8° tono alto. Ensalada [6:11]
Tiento de 4° tono [8:59]
Salve de lleno, 1° tono [2:25]
Tiento de 4° tono de falsas [5:48]
Discurso sobre los saeculorum [3:13]
Obra de 1° tono [5:04]
Pange lingua por ce sol fa ut [1:13]
Pange lingua [1:34]
Falsas de 6° tono [2:15]
Vajo, 1° tono [5:06]
Salve, 1° tono por de la sol re [3:17]
Tiento de Batalla. 8° tono (SACD-only bonus track) [4:40]
CD 5 [67:43]
Pablo BRUNA (1611-1679)
Registro alto de clarín de 8° tono [10:32]
Tiento lleno de 6° tono sobre Ut re mi fa sol la [8:15]
Tiento de 1er tono de mano derecha y al medio a dos tiples [7:56]
Tiento de dos bajos de 6° tono [9:04]
Tiento de 2° tono por Ge sol re ut 'Sobre la letanía de la Virgen' [6:43]
Tiento de 5° tono de mano izquierda [10:16]
Batalla de 6° tono [7:57]

CD 6 [76:30]
Mirjan Wiesemann in conversation with organ builder Gerhard Grenzing [51:58]
Mirjan Wiesemann in conversation with organist M. Schmeding [24:31] 



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