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Andreas Götz An Organ Treasure OC 622 SACD
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Detailed information hide

FormatSuper Audio CD
Ordering NumberOC 622
Release date02/08/2007
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Bruckner, Anton
  • Goller, Vinzenz
  • Liszt, Franz
  • Reger, Max
  • Rheinberger, Joseph

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      Description hide

      Anton Bruckner: Vorspiel und Fuge c-Moll
      Vinzenz Goller: Festpräludium in memoriam Anton Bruckner
      Franz Liszt: Variationen über „Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen“
      Josef Rheinberger: Orgelsonate Nr. 9 b-Moll op. 142
      Max Reger: Phantasie über den Choral „Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme“ op. 52/2
      Andreas Götz, Organ by F.B. Maerz, St. Rupert, Munich

      One of the few remaining large organs from the shop of Munich organ builder Franz Borgias Maerz is located in the Catholic parish church of St. Rupert in Munich. The instrument’s outstanding significance rests on the fact that it is one of the few surviving concert organs of the time and was originally built for the royal Odeon in Munich, where it remained until 1907. The booklet of this SACD gives thorough information on the instrument’s eventful history: it survived the chaos of the Second World War and was carefully restored beginning in 1997. Organist Andreas Götz has recorded works which are directly linked to the Odeon organ or whose creation is related to its immediate environment. As a professor for organ and composition in Munich, Josef Rheinberger, for instance, was a regular soloist on the Odeon organ, and in his performance of the Organ Sonata No. 9, Andreas Götz limits himself to the 25 stops from Rheinberger’s time.

      The Odeon Organ

      This recording was made on the historic Maerz organ from the royal Odeon in Munich, originally constructed in 1887. The instrument, which has since been expanded, was moved to the city’s catholic church of St. Rupert in 1907.

      The organ’s beautiful sound impressively documents the art of the important southern German organ builder Franz Borgias Maerz, who was among the leading instrument builders at the turn of the 20th century. Through its connections to one of the formerly most famous historic concert halls – the organ resounded for 18 years during performances in the great hall of the royal Odeon in Munich – this work of art also has exceptional significance as a monument, thus making it part of Munich’s musical tradition.

      The builder of the Odeon organ

      Franz Borgias Maerz was born in 1848 as Franz Borgias Nothwinkler in Munich. After the death of both parents, the boy was adopted by his neighbors, Max and Maria Maerz, who had been friends of the family.

      Maerz learned the craft of organ building in the workshop of his stepfather, who headed the business in its second generation. After Max Maerz’s death, Franz Borgias took over his father’s shop in 1879. Munich’s economic upswing at the end of the 19th century led to the fact that the previously insignificant organ-building company in the Landsbergerstrasse was able to acquire an excellent order backlog. Due to the high quality of his works, Maerz was awarded the title “Royal Bavarian Court Organ Builder” in 1905, which demonstrates his position as one of the most important craftsmen of the time. In 1910, Maerz died in Munich after a long illness.

      Maerz’s oeuvre includes over 400 new organs, 50 of which were built for Munich. Changing tastes over the years as well as losses due to the war contributed to the destruction of many of his works, however. The instrument in St. Rupert is the only remaining Maerz-organ of its size in Munich, and a special historical document as well, because it is one of the few examples of an existing concert organ and a masterful example of its builder’s mastery. The next comparable work by Maerz is found in the Augsburg cathedral.

      The royal Odeon in Munich

      The Munich Odeon, built according to plans of Leo von Klenze (1684–1764) between 1826 and 1828 upon order of Ludwig I, was one of the most extraordinary venues for public music culture until its destruction in 1944. Site of many nationally important concerts, seat of the Musical Academy and Royal Conservatory, which was reorganized in 1867 as the Royal Music School, the Munich Odeon quickly gained an international reputation.

      A representative sample of the great artists who performed there includes Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Hans von Bülow, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karl Straube and Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, for example.

      The organ in Munich’s church of St. Rupert was thus not originally conceived of by Franz Borgias Maerz as a church organ, but as a concert organ for the Royal Odeon. After the Odeon’s previous organ, a work of Joseph Frosch, was dismantled and moved to the village of Halsbach’s church in 1887, Maerz delivered a new two-manual instrument with mechanical con-valve chest and 25 stops for the large concert hall during the same year. At that time, the Maerz organ looked completely different. Above the instrument’s unpretentious lower case, which was accented by vertical, rectangular panels, was a three-part pipe facade with simple flat areas, the middle of which jutted slightly into the room. The organ’s tasteful, restrained decor with a triangular gable and decorative peaked border fit stylistically well in the concert hall’s architecture.

      Between 1905 and 1906, the desire for a larger instrument – the rather undesirable placement of the Maerz organ on the orchestral podium had been complained about a number of times – led to the dismantling of the Maerz organ and installation of a new organ built by the Walcker organ shop, which had 64 stops distributed over four manuals. The electro- pneumatic instrument was placed on top of the columned porch above the stage. The Walcker organ was destroyed during the Second World War, along with the Odeon.

      Today: the Odeon organ in St. Rupert’s

      In 1907, two years after being removed from the Odeon, the Maerz organ found another home in the newly built city church of St. Rupert in Munich’s Westend district. Constant population growth in the Bavarian metropolis had required the construction of any number of new churches on the urban periphery. The spacious church was designed by the famous architect Gabriel von Seidl (1848–1913). Between 1901 (construction begin) and 1908 (formal dedication) on Gollierplatz, a central domed building was erected above a square foundation, each of whose sides was closed by a semicircular half-dome. Stylistically, the representative building harked back to Romanesque- Byzantine models.

      Reconstruction and restoration

      When the organ was installed in the church, Maerz – himself a member of this church parish – expanded the organ, adding three reeds (8’ Trompete in Manual I, 8’ Clarinette in Manual II and a 16’ Posaune in the Pedal). In addition, the instrument was given a pneumatic action. In addition, further playing aids such as additional couplers and free combinations as well as a swell were added and the wind pressure increased to 110 mm. Optically, the instrument also had to be adapted to its new environment. Its neoclassical furnishings (e.g. triangular gable with lyre) – suitable for the concert hall – were now replaced by circular round friezes and gables, crosses etc., that

      were more suited to a church atmosphere. In addition, the three-part facade was expanded by two lateral fields. The cuts for the extensions are still visible on the lower case today. In 1933, the Munich organ building company Magnus Schmid made extensive changes to the instrument. Although technically still faultless, the instrument was expanded to correspond to the tastes of the times as well as modern organ-building possibilities by the addition of a number of voices and playing aids (e.g. pedal piano and stop crescendo). The number of voices was increased to 37. By adding high stops such as a Sesquialter 2 2/3’ and Scharf 1’, shortening the Aeoline 8’ to a Piccolo 1’ (Manual II) as well as exchanging the Cornett with a Cymbel 2/3’ (Manual I), the instrument’s originally romantic sound was gradually transformed to conform to the ideal of the Northern German baroque organ. The organ’s outer appearance was completely changed. Only the lower case of the original instrument remained. The facade area with its panels was replaced by an imposing facade with exposed pipes which rises arc-like towards the middle. The new console necessitated by these changes was supplied by the Ludwig Eisenschmid (Erling) company.

      During World War II, the instrument was badly damaged by a demolition bomb that exploded close to the church. Shards of the broken church windows perforated the facade pipes as well as into the windchests.

      During the middle of the last century, a number of further changes were made to the valuable instrument. Some historical pipe ranks from the Franz Borgias Maerz workshop were simply shortened to obtain new colors. The 8’ Cellobass thus became a 4’ Choralbass, the 4’ Dolcissimo a 1 1/3’ Kleinquinte and the 8’ Vox coelestis a 2’ Oktave.

      At the end of the 20th century, the organ was in such desolate condition that extensive restoration was indispensable. The model for the restoration was the instrument’s condition in 1907, for which the original disposition still existed (except for four stops). Shortened pipes were lengthened again, missing ones reconstructed. In addition, the expansion from 1933 was partially redisposed and thus suitably adapted to older parts. In addition, the 16’ facade, which had been silent until then, was transformed into a playable Hauptwerksprinzipal. Beginning in 1997, these extensive measures were carried out under the direction of French organ builder Jean-Paul Edouard. Stefan Niebler completed the overall voicing of the instrument between 2001 and 2003.

      Technical description and disposition

      Today, the Maerz organ in St. Rupert has a total of 38 stops distributed over two manuals and pedal.

      The Program

      For 117 years, after its construction between 1826 and 1828 until its destruction in 1944, concerts, balls, artists’ festivals and other events held at the Royal Odeon influenced cultural and social life not only in Munich, but far beyond the city’s boundaries. Renowned composers, conductors and soloists appeared in the prestigious hall. Numerous premieres and first performances were presented here.

      The intention of this recording is to document part of this musical tradition and bring it back to life. The Maerz organ in St. Rupert is extremely adequate for these purposes, for – though modified and expanded – it is still essentially the former instrument of the Royal Odeon.

      Anton Bruckner (1824–1896) is certainly one of the most outstanding artists whose name is connected with the Odeon. In 1885, the 61-year-old experienced one of the greatest successes of his career until then: the performance of his Symphony No. 7 under the direction of Hermann Levi. In the following year, Bruckner likewise experienced the enthusiastic reception of his Te Deum by Munich audiences. It has been told that Bruckner, as a special expression of thanks, would sit down at the organ bench after each dress rehearsal and present the orchestral musicians and listeners with a taste of his abilities at that instrument. At this time, it was the organ of the Joseph Frosch company that still graced the large concert hall. This first Odeon organ still exists in the Lower Bavarian town of Halsbach. In Bruckner’s works, one finds abundant influence of the organ, which served him as a source of inspiration. Despite this, only six organ compositions from his pen still remain, since – as an exceptionally endowed improviser – he wrote down very little. The recording of his Prelude and Fugue in C Minor for Organ on this SACD should be understood in this spirit: as a reminder of this great master. Bruckner originally planned this composition as a contrapuntal study. The prelude is dominated by harmonic components that retain their festive character throughout the work. Characteristic for the prelude is the chromatically descending line (passus diriusculus) from A-flat to E-flat at the end of the work, which returns to the dominant via the subsequent Neapolitan sixth chord and the seventh chord which is built on the augmented fourth step. In the fugue, motives and elements of Bruckner’s later symphonies seem to be presaged, such as triads and the use of the minor sixth as an appoggiatura before a perfect fifth.

      The musical bridge between Bruckner to the times when the Maerz organ was expanded in the 1930s is shown by the Festive Prelude for Organ in memoriam Anton Bruckner by Vinzenz Goller (1873–1953). Corresponding to the tastes of the times, the monumental piece was composed for the transfer of the Bruckner bust to the Valhalla on June 6, 1937. For the National Socialists, this was a symbolic act of bringing Bruckner back into the German Reich, and it was celebrated (in the presence of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels) with the performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 with the Munich Philharmonic under the baton of Siegmund von Hausegger in the Regensburg Minoritenkirche. Goller based his Festpräludium on motives from Bruckner’s symphony. With a short, expressive prelude that leads into a free fugue, the composition is a musical gesture of reverence to the great symphonic composer Anton Bruckner.

      The core of this recording is the historic program with works by Liszt, Rheinberger and Reger performed by Karl Straube (1873–1950) on November 20, 1905 in the Munich Odeon. Unfortunately, the sources are still not unequivocally clear as to whether this program was actually played on the Maerz organ – or on its successor, the Walcker organ. The Walcker company’s books record having received the contract for the organ in May 1905 and promise delivery by mid-October of the same year at the latest. The instrument itself, however, is dated anno 1906.

      The St. Thomas church cantor began his concert with the variations on the chromatic instrumental bass of the introductory chorus of the Bach cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by Franz Liszt (1811–1886). Bach later used the motive of this passus diriusculus in the Crucifixus of his Mass in B Minor. The sometimes polyphonic, sometimes chordal variations in Liszt’s composition are outstanding for demonstrating both the Maerz organ’s orchestral qualities as well as the beauty of its solo stops. The piece begins with a 16-measure Lento which seems to thematically

      anticipate the following contrasting variations. The piece concludes with the final chorale, “Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan”, of the above-mentioned cantata. The appearance of the melody of this beloved hymn – stopped in this recording with the enchanting “Vox humana” – gives the composition’s mournful mood a hopeful and triumphant perspective.

      In this work musicologists see elements of Liszt’s attempts to come to terms with personal strokes of fate, e.g. the deaths of his son Daniel and daughter Blandine.

      The work most related to the Maerz organ is by Josef Rheinberger (1839–1901), whose Organ Sonata No. 9 in B-flat Minor (op. 142) was also played in the concert on November 20, 1905.

      In 1867, Rheinberger was appointed professor for organ and composition at the Royal Music Academy, which was newly restored by Richard Wagner and Hans von Bülow and resided in the Munich Odeon. Rheinberger held this position until his death in 1901. He was extremely familiar with the Maerz organ and frequently played it. Many of his compositions were first played on this instrument. Of particular note is the premiere of his Organ Concerto in G Minor, performed in 1894 under the direction of Richard Strauss. Soloist on that evening was Josef Becht, who later drew up a report on the Maerz organ in connection with its transfer to St. Rupert and thus vouched for its authenticity as the former Odeon organ. The Organ Sonata No. 9 has three movements: Präludium-Romanze-Fantasie and Finale. The Finale consists of a fugue, whose theme – with its descending fifths – is reminiscent of Bruckner’s symphonic motives. At the end of the fugue, the composer once again takes up the main theme of the prelude. Rheinberger dedicated his ambitious work to the famous French organist Alexandre Guilmant. This recording of the sonata uses only the 25 remaining stops from the Maerz organ that it had during its time in the Odeon.

      The brilliant conclusion of the historic Straube program is the choral fantasia Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme (op. 52/2) by Max Reger (1873– 1916). From ca. 1897, the St. Thomas church cantor had a lifelong friendship with Reger, and it can be assumed that the composer from the Upper Palatinate was personally in the audience. A for the most part authentic-sounding performance of this complex and virtuosic choral fantasia seems to have been possible only after the instrument’s expansion during the 1930s and its renovation at the end of the former century. The work is based on the eponymous hymn by Philipp Nicolai from 1599. The composition’s greatness can be seen in its fusion of chorale variation and symphonic poem. The gloomy, eschatological mood of the introduction – interrupted by lightning-like runs and chords that seem to announce the resurrection – precedes a jubilant fugue, in which the closing verse “Gloria sei dir gesungen” can be heard.

      As a SACD, this recording gives the listener a vivid impression of the characteristic symphonic sound of the Odeon organ in the exceptional acoustics of the St. Rupert church in Munich.

      Martina Topp
      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      Tracklist hide

      SACD 1
      • Anton Bruckner
        • 1.Vorspiel und Fuge c-Moll.05:13
      • Vinzenz Goller
        • 2.Festpräludium in memoriam Anton Bruckner05:11
      • Franz Liszt
        • 3.Variationen über „Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen“.19:33
      • Josef Rheinberger Orgelsonate Nr. 9 b-Moll, op. 142
        • 4.Präludium. Grave – Allegro moderato10:20
        • 5.Romanze. Andantino06:04
        • 6.Fantasie und Finale12:25
      • Max Reger
        • 7.Phantasie über den Choral „Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme“ op. 52/220.40
      • Total:58:46