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A Big Czech Organ For You To Hear


MusingMuso
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The link below should open up to a discography, which includes an mp3 of the Widor Toccata.

 

It is played on the organ of St.James', Prague, which contains a large quasi-romantic Rieger-Kloss re-build of an earlier 18th century organ (imagine THAT to-day!) to the design of Bedrich Antonin Wiedermann.

 

This was the organ associated not only with Wiedermann, but also Jiri Ropek and Petr Eben; not to mention the current head organist, Irena Chřibková. (pronounced H-ripkova).

 

From the performance, I get the distinct impression that she is struggling with a slightly sluggish and irregular action, and I'm not aware that the organ has been re-built recently. However, unlike many sadly neglected old organs in the Czech Republic, this one at least works and hasn't been vandalised. (Some of the more remote churches have organs in a pitiful state or repair, or have had the pipes removed or badly damaged by vandals).

 

It's quite a big sound, and quite a large instrument.

 

http://chribkova.com/diskografie_cd2.html

 

MM

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This was the organ associated not only with Wiedermann, but also Jiri Ropek and Petr Eben; not to mention the current head organist, Irena Chřibková. (pronounced H-ripkova).

I have a CD of Chřibková playing this instrument, called 'Prague St. James's Basilica - its organs and composing organists' which includes works by Cernohorsky, Zach, Serger, Wiedermann, Ropek and Eben. I like the sound of the instrument very much, and the repertoire is pleasant enough, if not particularly eventful. It's on the Multisonic label, released in 1996.

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I have a CD of Chřibková playing this instrument, called 'Prague St. James's Basilica - its organs and composing organists' which includes works by Cernohorsky, Zach, Serger, Wiedermann, Ropek and Eben. I like the sound of the instrument very much, and the repertoire is pleasant enough, if not particularly eventful. It's on the Multisonic label, released in 1996.

 

 

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I haven't heard this recording, but I suspect that the choice of music is a bit "home team" at the expense of absolute quality.

 

However, a word about Cernohorsky which may be of interest.

 

I don't know how many people realise, but Cernohorsky was an utterly outstanding composer, and actually enjoined Bach in performances of music, when Bach went with Prince Leopold to Bohemia. Known as the "Czechoslovakian Bach," he composed and absolutely ouutstanding fugal motet, and in his own lifetime, established the education of church musicians and the style of composition sung in church. Irony plays a part here, for as we know, half of Bach's music was lost......some 800 works perhaps. The Czech equivalent was a library fire, which destroyed almost the entire output of Cernohorsky; leaving us with just a very few works, rather than the 400 or so that he wrote.

 

Zach, I think, is fairly ordinary fare, and to some extent, the same is true of Seger. However, I would love to hear the Seger re-working of Bach's organ-music; re-arranged for short-octave compass instruments. This was always the limitation with organs in this region, and made the full compass chromaticism of Bach and the German School almost an impossibility, unless it was written very high on the pedals, as is the case with certain works which survive from the quill-pen of Cernohorsky.

 

Wiedermann is something of an unknown quantity to us, because the bulk of his output (about 400 works) has never been published, and exist only in manuscript form. However, his music for Organ and Mezzo (I think based on the Psalms), contains some absolutely ravishing music, which I need to study a lot more closely.

 

I quite like Ropek's music, which has an almost astringent severity, with many quite naked fifths and fourths, all wrapped in interesting modality. I suspect that Ropek, as a fairly minor composer, really falls into the immediate post-war style of contemporary writing, which I personally enjoy.

 

Eben's music I have mixed feelings about. There are things I dislike, and other things I admire, so I tend to be a bit picky.

 

So as I say, a bit of a "home team" recording by the sounds of it, and one which perhaps ignores the best music from the region.

 

MM

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