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HISTORICAL ORGAN IN CARLSBAD
Michaela Káčerková

 

F10238   [8595017423826]   released 11/2019

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Preludium a fuga c moll op. 37/1
Joseph Bonnet: Berceuse op. 10
Louis Lefébure-Wély: Sortie B dur
Max Reger: Introdukce a passacaglia d moll
Bohuslav Martinů: Vigilie
Bedřich Antonín Wiedermann: Elegia
Bedřich Janáček: Tři postní chorály
František Musil: Sonata Solemnis – Allegro / Kánon / Fuga

The Church of St. Peter and Paul in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) 

play album Historical Organ in Carlsbad 73:07
1. Preludium c moll op. 37/1 4:27
2. Fuga c moll op. 37/1 5:50
3. Berceuse. Z cyklu Pieces d´orgue, op. 10 4:27
4. Sortie B dur 4:18
5. Introdukce d moll 1:44
6. Passacaglia d moll 7:23
7. Vigilie 7:10
8. Elegia 7:35
9. Se, vi ga upp till Jerusalem 3:49
10. Min själ, du maste nu glömma 3:00
11. O huvud, blodigt, sarat 2:52
12. Sonata solemnis – Allegro 9:41
13. Sonata solemnis – Andante (Kánon) 4:47
14. Sonata solemnis – Fuga 6:00


Sparkling and gentle fairytale-like orchestral compositions of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847) combines Mozart’s clarity and romantically awaken fantasy. As a conductor, he staged and conducted Johan Sebastian Bach’s St. Mathew Passion in Berlin when he was only twenty years old. By doing so, he initiated the renaissance of a forgotten Baroque author. At the same time, his work was significantly influenced by Bach’s music. This showed in the concept of biblical oratorios Elias and Paulus and in the creation of a numerous evangelical sacred music – vocal, cantata and organ music. Mendelssohn filled these historical forms with a contemporary feeling. The Three prelude and fugue op. 37 from 1837 carry dedication to Thomas Attwood, a London organ player and composer, who was also Mozart’s student.
 
Organist Joseph Bonnet (1884–1944) composed in Paris, but he also spent some time in the US and Canada. He chose Canada as his permanent residence after the Nazi army took over Paris. Berceuse is the sixth of 12 pieces from the cycle Pieces d’orgue, op. 10. The pieces In Memoriam Titanic or The Song of the Czech nation are among them. 
 
Parisian organ player Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817–1869) drew people’s attention through playing in a less serious style. This differentiates him from his today more famous contemporary player César Franck, not only in the playing style, but also in composition. During the inauguration of a new instrument in the Church of St. Roch in 1842, Lefébure-Wély arose contradictory reactions by improvising on the themes from the then-popular Mezerbeer’s opera Robert the Devil. Similarly, he attracted attention during Chopin’s funeral by playing his own organ transcriptions of Chopin’s piano pieces. He was not only a composer, but also a famous interpret, who made a significant contribution to the establishment of the characteristic French “symphonic” organ style. Sortie is a common form of the French organ creation. It is a piece of music designated to the procession at the end of 
a mass. 
 
Compositions of Max Reger (1873–1916) belong to the basic organ repertoire. In his words, these pieces are challenging and they require a self-conscious and vivid play. He was a Catholic, but Lutheran Bach became his icon. Through Bach, he gained a close musical relationship with the Protestant chorale. Reger’s musical speech is inspired by Baroque counterpoint perfection and instrumental forms of that time and is very rich in the neo-Romantic harmonies, including variational passacaglia. In his time, he was a well-known author along with Richard Strauss. Till today, his frequently played Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor was Reger’s contribution to an album, which was supposed to raise funds for building the new organ in Kronberg im Taunus. The album was published in 1899. 
 
Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959), a classical composer of Czech music of the 20th century, created hundreds of compositions – operas, ballets, symphonies, cantatas, concert and chamber pieces. In spite of this, he composed only one organ piece of music. He developed his distinctive musical personal style through the influences of jazz, Dadaism, Neo-classicism and New Objectivity. Even though he lived in Paris for most of his life, he included aspects of the Czech folklore and music of the past in his compositions. He lived in the US during World War II and he spent the last ten years of his life in Paris. This experience added to his synthesizing overview of a fantasque, almost impressionistically colourful sound of music. After 1939, he was not allowed to return to his home country and even this situation added characteristic features to his music. Easter Vigil, which he started to compose in April 1959, remained unfinished. It was published in Paris as Vigilia pour orgue. It was revised and finished by Bedřich Janáček, a Czech organist living in exile, to whom Bohuslav Martinů dedicated this piece. Its name refers to the theme of the Nativity, a night mass of the Roman Catholic church, which over the centuries turned into the morning mass before Christmas Day. The initial theme is being repeated and the instrumental variations of this theme are characteristic for the work of composer’s last years of life.
 
The work of Bedřich Antonín Wiedermann (1883–1951) is significantly dedicated to sacred organ music. Wiedermann was a professional organist, teacher and founder of the Czech modern organ pedagogy that emphasizes the aspect of realizing the differences between the piano and organ playing techniques. He became famous for outstanding keyboard and pedalboard techniques and colourful music registers. He was a cathedral musician and taught at The Prague Conservatoire and The Academy of Performing Arts after the end of World War II. He organized hundreds of concerts and established regular concerts in Prague – in the Municipal House and St. Jacob Basilica in The Old Town. He concentrated on the works of the 19th and 20th centuries. Elegia was composed in 1920. Wiedermann composed in a specific style, which was returning to neo-Romanticism, which he was enriching especially in the aspect of music harmony.
 
Bedřich Janáček (1920–2007) was one of Wiedermann’s students. He emigrated to Scandinavia after the communist coup in 1948. At that time, he had already finished studies at The Prague Conservatoire and its master class, had successfully completed the first years of his pedagogical practice and had played tens of concerts, mainly for the Czech Radio. He settled in Sweden, where he worked as an organ player in various towns. He played concerts all his life and performed not only in Scandinavia. He wrote majority of his compositions for solo organ or with organ, very frequently inspired by the Protestant repertoire. Among those are the first-time recorded Three Lenten Chorales, songs with Swedish lyrics. The first one refers to the German setting, to one of Bach’s sacred cantatas. The second one has its roots in the original Swedish Lutheran song, that has been sung during the masses since the 17th century. The third piece contains melody common to the German, Swedish and Czech Protestants, which is in German accompanied by the text of Paul Gerhardt, a Pietistic poet and theologian. The Czech text was written by one of the then expatriates. 
 
František Musil (1852–1908) belonged to the most famous musicians from Brno along with Leoš Janáček at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was an organist and director of the choir loft in the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. He initiated reconstruction of the organ and taught at the Organ School, which was founded by Janáček. He excelled as an exceptional organ improviser and expert on the art of counterpoint. As a composer, he stayed fully under the influence of the Cecilian reformist movement, which was occurring under the patronage of the Unity of Cecilians. The mission of this movement was to free the sacred music from the strengthening support of superficiality of secular music production and deepen the overall worshiping. Musil is forgotten today. However, his Sonata solemnis remains in the repertoire of the Czech organ players as a main piece with concert characteristics. Musil dedicated this sonata to František Bauer, Bishop in the city of Brno, for his inauguration. 
 
The Church of St. Peter and Paul in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is part of the German heritage of the city. Architect Gustav Hein built it as a prayer room for all non-Catholic spa guests in the middle of the 19th century. The property was donated by Countess Schamburg-Lippe. Her residence became the presbytery later on. The Lutheran aristocrats financially supported the construction of this church, which was happening under the auspices of King George V, ruler of the Kingdom of Hanover. The Anglican and Orthodox Churches built their own places of worship many years later and the Lutheran Church took over the Church of St Peter and Paul. Further adjustments and reconstruction of the church, that were initiated by Frederick William IV, the Prussian king, brought a new main forefront and a church tower before the turn of the century. All these changes happened under the supervision of architect Jullius Zeissig from Leipzig and we can admire them today along with the neo-Romanesque style. The interior is dominated by the altar with the Ascension of Christ painted by Carl Steffeck from Berlin. At present, it is a Protestant church, which has been in the possession of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church Congregation since the 1950s.
 
The organ was built by the then famous firm of Julius Jahn from Dresden in 1894 and it remains well-preserved thanks to the exceptional craftsmanship of their builders. Julius Jahn (1829–1910) built around ninety instruments. He obtained the title of Hoforgelbauer in 1904. Three years later, his son Johannes became a partner in his father’s firm. This organ building company was in operation under the name Jahn & Sohn until 1933. The organ in Karlovy Vary has two manuals with the range C–f3 and a pedalboard with the range C–d1. The tone and register action is pneumatic. The instrument was cleaned and tuned in 2018, the worn-out bellows of the tone traction were replaced. With regard to the tone character, the sound of the organ is considered as Romantic. However, they produce a very nice Baroque polyphony as well.
 
Later on, the organ was expanded by the Jahn & Sohn company. Stops, a coupler and a new organ console were installed. The organ was preserved till the 21st century in its original state, it is regularly played and is well taken care of. The instrument has not been renovated yet. Therefore, the players must accommodate to the specifics of this instrument. However, when the organists play Romantic pieces, they can interpret the music that is closer to the time of their creation. The main goal of this CD is to introduce this organ in its sound colourfulness and authenticity. The pieces were chosen with respect to the dispositions of the instrument and, at the same time, with the desire to present the work of selected Czech authors.

Petr Veber, September 2019
 
Michaela Káčerková has been continually performing in solo concerts. She plays regularly at concerts and festivals in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Poland and Italy. Moreover, she keeps repeatedly visiting the US and Japan with her performances. In her home country, she cooperates with many choirs, solo singers, orchestra, Baroque ensembles – for instance Prague Radio Symphonic Orchestra, Karlovy Vary Symphonic Orchestra, Capella Regia Prague and Camerata Bohemica Prague, just to name a few. Her repertoire includes music of all eras from the Renaissance to contemporary music. The cornerstone of her repertoire is Czech organ music. She always includes pieces of Czech organ music in her programs, especially during her performances outside the Czech Republic. She became a significant figure at the Czech musical scene. Michaela studied the organ play in the Czech Republic at The Prague Conservatoire by Jan Hora and at The Academy of Performing Arts by and Jaroslav Tůma. Abroad, she studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig and her teachers were the organ player Stefan Engels and cembalist Thobias Schade. She attended many master class courses lead by Harald Vogel, Martin Sander, Lorenz Ghielmi, Olivier Latry or Ludger Lohmann,  among others. Since 2014, she has been the initiator and the director of the J. C. F. Fischer International Music Festival, that caries the name of Bach’s older contemporary Baroque composer, who was born in a small village called Krásno (Schönfeld in German).
 
The historical organ of the Carlsbad’s district is an extensive and long-term project. Since her studies, Michaela Káčerková has been interested in old, precious and remaining instruments. She has travelled to various cathedrals to visit the less famous organ. She has enjoyed playing them, as well as looking for various approaches to how to play them. She greatly enjoys looking for ideal ways how to play the different types of instruments. This way, she expands her repertoire by pieces of other genre periods and by discovering new pieces, that are played very rarely. Besides the fact that she sees all these activities as essential to maintaining her playing skills and concert quality, she greatly enjoys them as well. The series will contain more CDs over time and will capture more precious organs of the region. All these instruments preserved their original sound attributes without major repairs and interventions and none of these organs have been recorded yet. The next CD will introduce organs from Jáchymov through the pieces of Joseph Renner, Otomar Kvěch, Ference Liszt, J. S. Bach, and Sigfrid Karg-Elert. Concerts and fundraising for maintenance and renovation of the precious instruments in the region, which she calls home, are indivisible part of this project.

FUTHER SELECTED RECORDINGS OF HISTORICAL ORGANS IN BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA:

    

© Studio Svengali, December 2019
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