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Heinz Wunderlich


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According to a posting on another list, the German organist and teacher Heinz Wunderlich died on 10 March at the age of 92.

More info here for those that can read German: http://www.hfmt-hamb...inz-wunderlich/

 

I heard him play Reger (among other things) on two occasions, once at Verden Cathedral and then, memorably, at the re-opening recital of the great Sauer organ in the Berliner Dom on 6 June 1993, the first time the instrument had been heard for 50 years. His interpretations struck me as truly masterful - cohesive, exciting and totally convincing. His passing surely marks the end of the 'apostolic succession', through Straube, to Reger himself.

 

JS

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I never heard Heinz Wunderlich live in concert, yet somehow, I recognise the passing of a stupendous talent. It says something about the power of his performances, that even back in the mid 1960's, when a number of Reger performances were aired on Radio 3 played by the maestro himself, they had the power to thrill and move a 15 year old; to the extent that the music of Reger became a lifelong interest. I seem to recall that the broadcasts came from the Nuremburg organ-festival, which also introduced me to the sounds of the great Steinmeyer instruments. As John Sayer rightly points out, this is possibly the end of a direct link to Straube and Reger, and there can be no doubt but that "Heinzy" Wunderlich played this music with absolute authority, and passed it on to his many friends and pupils. As all good and great things must eventually come to an end, I am only able to feel a certain joy that Heinz Wunderlich lived so long, and continued playing brilliantly almost to the end. That, for me, has been a wonderful privilege, and I'm sure his many recordings will continue to inspire for a very long time. May he rest in peace.

 

The following article, from "The Diapason," gives a thorough account of his achievements, as well as an extensive list of his compositions.

 

http://www.thediapason.com/Heinz-Wunderlich-at-90-article10175

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When in my early teens, I took an interest in Reger’s music, and my father gave me three of Wunderlich’s recordings that had appeared on his own label »Arp Schnitger Records«. When listening to these, I at first did not notice the incredible faithfulness and cleanliness of his playing. Only later, after hearing many performances of works such as the »Inferno« fantasia op. 57 or the I, P & F op. 127 with its endless figurations, I noticed how extraordinary Wunderlich’s playing actually was.

 

His recording of the variations op. 73 remained on my record player for weeks, and often had to serve as a lullaby (there, I was mad), as the record was to be turned for the fugue, and side one ended with the ethereal ppp of the closing variation. All this was recorded on the very odd (and, to most others, infamous) Kemper he had had built south of “his” Schnitger.

 

I, too, never heard him in concert, but found it interesting to follow his recordings over the decades. Through an acquaintance, I got by a private copy of a recital Wunderlich played in July, 2005, at the colossal Sauer of the Berliner Dom. That live performance changed much of my view of Wunderlich as being the hyper-controlled fingers-and-feet player type. There is an ardent »Wedge« (BWV 548) interpretation, with many visiting notes in the beginning but gaining steadiness and virtuosity in the course; and a classically clear Mendelssohn »Vater unser« sonata. Mind, he played it at age 86! I was amazed to hear the Sauer fit him like a glove -- after all those Orgelbewegung-and-worse organs on which he had recorded previously.

 

An overwhelming experience in listening to this recording was his rendition of Reger’s D-Minor sonata (op. 60). Such a clear imagination of what that music was about, and such smoothly flowing musical rhetorics. The real high-point was the “introduction” that is followed by the fugue: Here, Wunderlich plays as if he was just inventing the music, witty, quicksilvery, and as sardonically fiery as if Puck himself was dancing madly over the majestic Sauer console.

 

What a spirit, and what a natural organist!

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