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Organ Music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Max Reger



One reason for performing these works on the organ in Oscar Church is that the organ, when it was build in 1949 was such an excellent instrument - recognized internationally. It gives such possibilies of creating a scale of sonority, that feels right both for Bach's and Reger's organ music, measures by todays ears.

Organ Music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Max Reger


What starts out as a very satisfying Bach recital takes a subtle turn to Max Reger. Very subtle, indeed, because that part of the recital is comprised of an extraordinarily ‘Bach-friendly’ selection of Reger pieces. If you were lazily listening to it as background, which the engulfing but easygoing sound of the Marcussen organ encourages, you might miss the transition, what with the Fantasia on the chorale “Wie schön leucht’ uns der Morgenstern” taking the old models as its point of departure. Some way through the Three Choral Preludes it should become more obvious, as Reger meanders his way towards harmonies that are decidedly late 19th century. If I hadn’t already discovered Reger’s organ music as something actually pleasant to listen to, thanks to Bernhard Buttmann’s traversal on Oehms Classics, this might have done the trick.

Now the only thing that needs to be decided on is the matter of filing: under B-for-Bach, because it is such a beautiful Bach organ recital and because the disc begins with JSB? And perhaps also because it is by way of Bach that it makes me so enjoy Reger? Or under the majority-composer (by minute-count) Reger, in the hope that it draws me more often to the Reger section of my shelves? Several organizing principles are at odds here. ‘Majority composer’ is the firmest, but ‘first named composer’ can equally rear its head. And then there’s ‘composer that I would think of, looking for that CD’... and the composer for whom the disc is more important. (Like the umpteenth Third Beethoven Piano Concerto or Victor Ullmann’s Piano Concerto? Obviously the latter.) It will be Reger, I suppose, despite the fact that the disc doesn’t make me consciously think of Reger. I will remember it, in any case, because despite it being something of an oddity in the Sterling catalogue (at least not repertoire I’d have ever looked for on that label), this is not merely a pleasant surprise but indeed a very happy discovery. Jens F. Laurson