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Organ Works Vol. 1 Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 20 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: MD&G Records
  • ASIN: B000A0D566
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1. Praludium Und Fuge
2. Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
3. Variationen Uber Den Basso Continuo Des Ersten Satzes Der Kantate
4. Aus Tiefer Not Schrei Ich Zu Dir
5. Adagio
6. Einleitung Und Fuge Aus Der Kantate
7. Oassacaglia BWV 582 C Minor

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An interesting release - with some qualifications March 18 2015
By G.D. - Published on
Verified Purchase
To some ears this may sound as heresy, but I am very unsure what I really think of Liszt’s organ works. To me they sound suspiciously like what a first-rate composer for the piano may write when first getting hold of an organ (indeed) and, overwhelmed by the aural potentials momentarily forget most of what she or he knows about composition, melody, counterpoint and so on because he or she is caught up in exploring the sonorities – “hey, even a plain C major chord sounds majest; let’s hold it down for five seconds. Wow.” Whereas composers like Franck or Widor mastered the organ and its potential, the organ seems to have mastered Liszt. And he had access to (and conceived much of his organ music for) the largest organ in Germany at the time; I’m not sure that helped.

That organ has been restored, and is the instrument used on the recording at hand, which should add a bit of interest to this release, both for organ aficionados and Liszt fans. And it does undeniably sound splendid; gloriously grand and colorful. The topic of the release is the connection between Liszt and Bach, and opens with Liszt's perhaps most famous organ work, the Präludium und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-H, which is overall excellently performed here, though Michael Schönheit is perhaps a bit short on drama. The other original Liszt work is the Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen variations, which is a good example, I think, of the worry I expressed above – though it sounds imposing in this version (performance and instrument), it is musically a relatively shallow affair.

Liszt’s Bach transcriptions sound good primarily because of the originals. Somewhat interesting bonuses, however, are the original Bach works, the Passacaglia BWV 582 and the Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen prelude, played following 19th century registration plans (by Liszt pupils or colleagues). They sound undeniably romantic – stylistically really not such a far cry from Liszt’s own works, in fact, but better. Overall Schönheit’s performances are imposing if lacking a little bit in fire and drama. While I have some reservations about the music, I know that many others do not, and at least for them this should be a very interesting release.