SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
Christ lag in Todesbanden = SCHEIDEMANN, TUNDER, BOHM, BACH; WECKMANN: Praeambulum primi toni a 5; BUXTEHUDE: Praeludium in C; BRUHNS: Praeludium in G; BACH: Sonata in C; Toccata and Fugue in F – Johannes Strobl, Organ – Audite
Published on May 24, 2008
Martin Luther’s hymn Christ lay in the bonds of death, taken from the original tradition of the passion plays (pretty much dead with the onset of the 1600s), where Mary Magdalen is distraught on finding the tomb of Christ empty, and is comforted by an angel, served as inspiration for countless composers of Protestant north Germany. The ones represented on this disc, according to the notes, are all connected by familial, friendship, or geographical circumstances. But what is most fascinating is the different treatment they each give this popular hymn, some using it as a choral fantasia of sorts (Tunder and Bach), others more strictly disciplined. Even the preludes, because they are by men of differing ages and generations, do not seem consistently deserving of a common name; each composer thought of this form as something different from the others, and quite often even among the same composer’s work you can detect a different meaning in the word. The astoundingly original and tuneful Toccata and Fugue in F by Bach is something quite different in style and emotive content than Buxtehude’s Italian-based and somewhat through-composed Toccata.
But what makes this album essential, and the only organ album you should buy this year if you are having just one, is the newly-refurbished organ at Muri, Switzerland, where artist Johannes Strobl currently resides. This is a real sweetheart instrument, and Strobl uses it to great effect by varying the registration so that we get a cornucopia of color. And the power comes not just from the sheer size of the pipes, but from the way the performer manages his technique, the amount of time between finger changes, the careful articulation; all of these things factor into the power and musicality of any performance, and this man really has it down pat. I cannot stop listening to this album, aided to no small extent by the sensational surround sound that Audite has so faithfully captured. I normally don’t get that excited by organ albums, but this one is an exception, and is guaranteed to give you no end of pleasure. Bravo!
– Steven Ritter