Mendelssohn Organ Works, Vol.1

Author: 
Marc Rochester

Mendelssohn Organ Works, Vol.1

  • Sonatas for Organ, F major:minor
  • Sonatas for Organ, C major:minor
  • (6) Little Pieces, Fugue in D minor
  • Chorale Variations, 'Wie gross ist des Allmächt'
  • (4) Little Pieces, Trio (andante) in F
  • (4) Little Pieces, Allegro (chorale and fugue) in D minor/major
  • (2) Little pieces, Andante in D
  • (3) Preludes and Fugues, No 2 in G
  • (2) Pieces, Andante with variations in D

Mendelssohn's reputation as a composer for the organ rests entirely on six Sonatas and three Preludes and Fugues. In fact he wrote considerably more and, as the American musicologist William A. Little showed in his five-volume edition of Mendelssohn's complete organ music (published in 1987), much of this is of more than academic interest. Here, at last, we have an authoritative recording of the complete organ works and, on the strength of this first disc, it is going to be a most impressive series. In the two sonatas Planyavsky gives performances notable for their strength and vitality, the allegro assai vivace from the First comes across as a real virtuoso tour de force, while the Fugue of the Second Sonata unfolds in stately, almost majestic fashion. He treats the smaller pieces (although at almost ten minutes, the set of variations on the chorale Wie gross ist des Allmacht'gen Gute is hardly small in size) with as much care and attention to detail as he does the sonatas, revealing moments of considerable charm, not least in the delightful Andante with variations. I find his account of the D minor/major Allegro (which Little subtitles ''Chorale and Fugue'') so compelling that I find myself wondering why this stirring piece isn't played more often.
Mendelssohn was more highly respected as an organist in England than in Germany and it was for the English market that he wrote his organ music (Planyavsky's own, very informative, notes point out that in Mendelssohn's day the English organ was far in advance of its German counterpart). But the choice of a modern German instrument for this recording makes sense; it produces a most appropriate sound; well-blended, never shrill yet sufficiently clear for the detail of the music to be properly heard.'

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