WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org
Welcome to ArkivMusic, the retail store for CLOFO!

Brahms: Complete Organ Works / Kevin Bowyer


Release Date: 12/02/1992 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 5262   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  
On sale! $17.98
CD:  $15.99
Low Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews

The organ makes an aptly awe-inspiring noise, and is played with great authority and insight.

Brahms is hardly known for his organ music, and indeed he wrote very little of it - an hour's worth in total, a mere five works. Yet the Lutheran music he grew up with at St Michael's Church in Hamburg exerted a major influence on him and his compositions. Also he retained a lifelong interest in early music, expressed to a considerable degree in these few organ works.
 
Brahms wrote all but the 11 Chorale Preludes in his early twenties. The disc opens with the very lively Prelude and Fugue in A minor, WoO 9, a short but exhilarating introduction to Brahms's organ music for anyone not familiar with it. The
Read more Prelude and Fugue in G minor, WoO 10 is similarly electrifying, and in both parts there is more than a nod towards the D minor Toccata and Fugue BWV 565 attributed to J.S. Bach. The sheer quality of the writing in these two works is overwhelming, yet their ebullience is not typical of his organ works in general.
 
The chromatic Fugue in A flat minor is a much more sober, almost lugubrious affair. There are two versions of this on the disc - the second one is taken from the original 'first draft' manuscript, and included for completeness' sake only, according to Malcolm MacDonald's notes. It is certainly less convincing and altogether less moving than the later rewrite, is not without interest.
 
The chorale Brahms chose for his Prelude and Fugue, "O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid", WoO 7 was an anonymous one from the Mainz Songbook of 1628, reflecting his interest in early music. The deceptively straightforward Prelude leads into a beautiful, melancholic Fugue, whose subject is only loosely derived from the chorale. An early draft of the Chorale Prelude, this time fugue-less, is also included, again for the sake of completeness. At barely two minutes in length, and more threadbare than the original, it is of purely musicological interest.
 
A particularly compelling reason for buying this disc lies in the fact that the 11 Chorale Preludes, Op. 122 constituted Brahms's very last work, although they were not published until 1902. From the magnificent opening chorale, 'Mein Jesu, der du mich', to the tenderly poignant last, 'O Welt, ich muss dich lassen' ('O World, I must leave thee'), this superb work is a perfect summation of Brahms the composer, with his immaculate ability to make the music of the giants on whose shoulders he knew he stood - in this instance, Johann Sebastian Bach - part of his own time. The Preludes are full of contrapuntal character and variety, and each is a jewel, from the fleeting but glorious 'Herzlich tut mich erfreuen', to the warm glow of 'Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen', even the impossibly long sustained chord at the end of the elegiac 'Herzliebster Jesu'.
 
The work is all the more touching in that, so close to the end of his life, and shortly after his beloved Clara Schumann's demise, Brahms was clearly aware of his own mortality. As if to underscore the fact, he sets 'O Welt, ich muss dich lassen' twice. Yet there is a subtle equivocation in the unquestionable spirituality of this music that matches Brahms's own scepticism. Perhaps these are homages to a god of the musical kind.
 
The organ of the cathedral at Odense, more commonly known as St Canute's (Sct Knuds, in Danish), was built by Marcussen and Søn in 1862, though retaining the magnificent original Baroque façade. Marcussen expanded it twice, in 1934 and in 1965, so that today it has 56 stops, listed helpfully in the booklet - albeit it rather unhelpfully in Danish. It makes an aptly awe-inspiring noise, and is played with great authority and insight by Kevin Bowyer. Even at this early stage in his career - the disc was originally published in 1990 - was already one of the great organists of modern times.
 
Sound quality is excellently balanced and in general very good, although there is a little background hiss noticeable at the beginnings and ends of tracks - like the sound of wind rushing through trees. The CD booklet includes decent notes on the music by Malcolm MacDonald, and the melodies of the 11 Chorale Preludes are all thoughtfully supplied. Curiously, the back page and inlay claim the disc is not only mastered and manufactured in England, but also recorded there! The cover photo ought to be Odense cathedral, but is one of Karl Schinkel's imagined ones.
 
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International [4/2011]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Chorale Preludes (11) for Organ, Op. 122 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Odense Cathedral, Denmark 
Length: 34 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2.
Chorale Prelude and Fugue for Organ, WoO 7 "O Traurigkeit" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Odense Cathedral, Denmark 
Length: 7 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: An earlier version of `O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid' is included as track 17. 
3.
Fugue for Organ in A flat minor, WoO 8 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Odense Cathedral, Denmark 
Length: 7 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: An earlier version of the fugue is included as track 16. 
4.
Prelude and Fugue for Organ in A minor, WoO 9 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1857; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Odense Cathedral, Denmark 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
5.
Prelude and Fugue for Organ in G minor, WoO 10 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1857; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1990 
Venue:  Odense Cathedral, Denmark 
Length: 6 Minutes 15 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In