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Gerben Mourik concludes his brilliant, penetrating analysis of mainland Europe’s mid-20th century organ culture with recordings of two vivid and highly colourful German modernist masterpieces. The first demonstrates the profound influence of one of German church music’s leading figures of the period, Helmut Bornefeld. In some ways an archetypal post-war revolutionary, Bornefeld’s vision for Werner Bosch’s III/57 organ in Kassel (re-homed, but displaced nonetheless from its original setting, since the recording was made) was closely tied up with his vision for new church music. Most interesting here is the use of stops such as the ‘Terznone’, ‘Unruh’ and ‘Rauscharfe’, the roles of which Bornefeld described in detail, in his own music. Mourik’s committed and virtuosic playing matches his creative and intuitive programming; in addition to Bornefeld, the bold and colourful Kassel organ revels in period repertoire from Germany and Holland by Distler, Pepping, Koetsier and the 1964 Triptich by Jan Oscar Bender. Würzburg belongs to that late 1960s and 70s series of wildly loud Klais organs in massive acoustics which also includes the oft-recorded Ingolstadt and Trier instruments. Mourik gets right to the crux of the style with a quite phenomenal pair of improvisations, the first modern and apocalyptic (or, when the turbo-charged mixtures and chamades kick in, perhaps just apoplectic), the second late-romantic, post Karg-Elert, reflecting the organ’s true stylistic roots. The repertoire looks in both directions; from the perspective of the organ back to Karg-Elert and into France (Fleury), with Pepping’s post-Regerian Toccata & Fugue on ‘Mitten wir in Leben sind’ in the middle surrounded by Flemish miniatures by Bert Matter and Gerrit Wielenga, among others. Had it not been for the chaotic presentation of Bart van Buitenen’s wonderfully insightful booklet essays (all texts in the inlay are in German, the Dutch has to be accessed from a website and there is no English translation at all, thus rendering parochial a project of truly international significance), this would easily have garnered a fifth star. Nevertheless, the three releases which comprise Audite Nova are some of the most significant and valuable recent European organ recordings.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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