SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

SWEELINCK: Organ Works Vol. 1 – Harald Vogel, organ – MD&G

State of the art performances and recording from MD&G.

Published on August 6, 2011

SWEELINCK:  Organ Works Vol. 1 – Harald Vogel, organ – MD&G

SWEELINCK:  Organ Works Vol. 1:  Toccata;  Echo Fantasia;  Ps 116;  Fantasia à 4;  Toccata à 4 Voc.;  Erbarm dich mein o Herre Gott;  Ave maris stella;  Capriccio;  Allemanda: Soll es sein;  Toccata – Harald Vogel at the Schwalbennest organ in St. Marien in Lemgo. – MD&G multichannel SACD (2+2+2 option) MDG 9141690, 78:42 [Distr. by E1] *****:

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) was a highly influential organist during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.  He spent nearly all of his life in what is now Holland, and was organist of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam for very many years, from 1577 until his death.

This magnificent new release from MD&G was recorded on the Schwalbennest (Swallow’s Nest) organ in Lemgo, North-Rhine-Westphalia.  Restored recently and sympathetically, the organ is of enormous historical value, for its sound, construction and position, and is an instrument most suited to showcasing the works of Sweelinck.

Harald Vogel produces, in the spirit of the age, performances which I am certain will be benchmarks.  Using an instrument which Sweelinck would recognise, not only in its construction with a keyboard of the period but with mean-tone tuning with perfect thirds.  If the listener is expecting the usual temperament where every key is roughly in tune, then the colours Sweelinck wove into his music will not reproduce as he imagined them, and the result will be a kind of audio-shopped experience telling only a part of the composer’s story.

This is no dry exercise – the pieces resonate with energy bolstered up by the superb acoustics of the Marienkirche.  The sound quality is superb though I have yet to experience the 2+2+2 arrangement – auditioned either as 2.0 or 5.0 the sound is startlingly and ear-openingly good.

The generous programme includes over an hour of Sweelinck’s music, followed by something which ought to be done more often.  Harald Vogel takes the listener on a quarter-hour tour through all the stops of the instrument, so one can understand better how the variety of colours is produced.  The release is accompanied by an exemplary booklet containing details of the pieces played and the artist, but also a full registration and a full description of all the ranks of pipes.

Most highly recommended to anyone with the slightest interest in music for organ – there’s so much to be enjoyed in this release.  The good news is this is just Volume 1 of a series which deserves every success.

TrackList:
Toccata ex d (d1) SwWV 285
Echo-Fantasia ex d (d4) SwWV 261
Psalm 116 (Tenorsatz von Cl. Goudimel)
Psalm 116 (V. 1-4) SwWV 313
Fantasia à 4 (a1 / b-a-c-h) SwWV 273
Toccata à 4 Voc. ex a (a3) SwWV 298
Erbarm dich mein o Herre Gott (V. 1-6) SwWV 303
Ave maris stella. Canon SwWV 193
Capriccio SwWV 281
Allemanda: Soll es sein (V. 1-8) SwWV 330
Toccata ex g (g4) SwWV 295
Presentation of the organ’s registration

– Peter Joelson




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