Arrangements for 2 Organs and Percussion, Vol. 1 - Endebrock, Rohn, Graf
Classical - Chamber
Rheinberger: Organ Concerto No. 2
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Jörg Endebrock (Walcker organ, 1911)
Susanne Rohn (Klais organ, 1979)
Konrad Graf (percussion)
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Review by John Miller - August 3, 2018
This is my first encounter with Cybele Record’s Hd-klassik 3D Binaural Series. I was attracted to it mostly by their programme; discs playing two organs together are quite unusual in the industry. Hd-klassik 3D Binaural Series are packaged very noticeably, with a black-covered folder, and a large window in the front, through which one can see the front of the booklet with its information layout of colourful programme and performers. On the black of the folder, its elegant gold text is unusually prominent, except on the back page of the booklet, which is the detail track list, but in a very small font on a barely readable brown.
The organs used here are in Lutherkirche, Wiesbaden, Germany, built between 1908 and 1910. Its architecture sports a very good acoustics and the church is often used for music concerts and recording, as this disc shows. Actually there are no less than three organs, only two used in this SACD. The front organ, standing behind the altar, is a 3 manual Walcker organ (1910-1911) and is now of much historical and musical virtue. But around the mid 1979, the Walcker had become degenerate, partly by damage from the War, so another organ was built over the rear gallery while the Walcker was repaired. A Klais Orgel of Bonnalso with three manuals, electric stop action and 44 registers was inserted. These were the two organs on the SACD. In 1984 a small positive organ was inserted near the altar to accompany the choir.
Hd-klassic gives a list of the dispositions of Walcker-Orgel (1911) and Klais-Orgel on the centre pages of the booklet. Neither organs have 64ft pipes, but their 32ft ones are clear and impressive basses. Comparing their Dispositions, the Walcker-Organ has more of a softer Romantic sound, a synthesis with warmer culture from French and English, especially the many flute stops. The Klais-Orgel at the back of the church has a Disposition significantly fewer and sharper of its sound, with few string-types compared with the Walcker-Organ. It, however, responds very well to the percussion, some of which are integrated in the Disposion.
Hd-Klassik (in black and gold!) offers quality in another set of presentation; this SACD states that it contains three different versions of the recording as stated:-
1D: One dimensional stereo sound on the CD of the SACD layer, stereo version, tracks 1-18
2D: Two-dimensional surround sound, SACD layer, multichannel version (5.1)
3D: Three-dimensional surround, 3D binaural stereo sound, SACD layer, stereo version, tracks 19-37 (an artificial “head recording” in three-dimensional quality made in a very purist manner with only two microphones and without any filters or effects). This 3D is intended for headphone listening.
I only paid notice to the 5.1 and CD stereo versions indoors, as I have little interest in headphones used for high-quality playing, generally using my headphones while walking or running outdoors.
First in the double organ programme, is Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901). He was a prolific composer, many of them religious such as chorus, Masses and Requiem, plus operas, symphonies, and chamber works. His Organ music was known well; he produced 20 sonatas and 2 concertos. The latter was written for strings and extras such as a trio of horns in the first Concerto and pairs of trumpets and horns with timpani in the second.
In the 2-organ Lutherkirche, the usual orchestration to Rheinberger’s Organ Concerto No. in G minor op. 177 has been re-arranged. The Walcker organ, with its romantic pseudo orchestra-like sound, transfers the orchestral parts to the contents its rich disposition, while a good contrast to the radiant “neo-baroque” takes this by the Klais organ.
Rheinberger’s concerto follows the psychic effect of G minor, giving a calm, moody feeling which is often felt in this concerto, especially from the Walcker. The first movement, played by organist Jörg Endebrock is called “Grave”, indeed a grave opening, with a drum providing the feeling of a slow march, moving to an effective crescendo with full organ. Next – “Andante”, graceful tunes at just that speed and sung by several flute stop pipes. A drum supports, and the atmosphere is that of smiling – but not laughing. Onwards - with more speed and tempo, until fast vibratos and tremolos open two baroque ‘songs’ in variations. Third movement, “Con moto” has much staccato and brings back one of the songs from the first movement.
Organist Endebrock certainly follows the emotions in this concerto, full of subtle colour and ‘cantabile’. Rheinberger’s ample melodies, although not all memorable, are very acceptable, especially those in G minor.
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) wrote “Pictures at an Exhibition (1874)” and made a popular piece for ever. It concerned an artistic friend, Victor Hartman, who died in 1873 from an aneurysm. Mussorgsky (aged only 19) composed a piano suite expressing a cycle of ten acclaimed pieces, plus a varied recurring “Promenades” between them. Other composers were attracted, and composed with their own response; e.g. Maurice Ravel, who did a full orchestration which also became vogue. For playing with the two organs, Ravel’s score was its basis for Organist and Conductor Susanne Rohn and other musicians in this experiment. Not only using the various sounds from both Dispositions to portrait in each piece, the percussion part (also imitated from Ravel’s), helps to bring many atmospheres. Listeners should try not to think of Ravel but to think of the organs, together with Hartman’s pictures.
A vital part of this “Pictures at an Exhibition” is the use of the acoustics of Lutherkirche, for example in Tuileries (Children’s After A Game), Limoges with the Market, just as you see and hear it; Cattle (Bydlo), slowly moving 32’ Pedal lumbering across the field - so on.
The music sounds superb with 5.1 in pure DSD/SACD (no figures given), but don’t expect one of those “front and back as if they hear pure sound front and back”. Apart from the evident limitations of human’s hearing from the rear (of the building), the organs are very large and spread left, right, behind and a variety of length of pipes, all mixed and moved by single workers And in this case the organs used are in a large building, Lutherkirch, with a complex acoustics. Remember also that a large pipe organ covers 10 Hz to over 10,000 Hz. A good sound engineer can capture the sound, all of it inside the building, as if you are sitting in or near the centre of the church. There are “movements” such as drums or cymbals can be placed physically within the building or electronically in the recording workstation, and this changes the textures. I found that the DSD of standard Stereo make some areas were sharper, for example the Klais organ sounds some brighter than the Walcker as well as some percussion instruments. However, I liked 5.1 reading for more subtle, mixed sound in Lutherkirche.
Over all I think this black-gold SACD is interesting in several areas, but although complex, I fell in love simply, with both Rheinberger and Mussorgsky organ music and the way of the recording workshop made the tracks.
Note that my stars at the end of this review apply only to the standard, not the binaural headphone.
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