Hans Leitner at the organ of Passau Cathedral
IFO 00 166
The disc opens and closes with the impressive bells of the cathedral pealing forth - a prelude and postlude, which encompasses the huge 233 stop Ludwig and Eisenbarth organ in concert with the 20-piece Brass Ensemble Diocese Passau. The organ and brass pieces by Otto Dunkelberg (1900-1946) and Joseph Messner (1893 - 1869) undoubtedly sound well in the context of a festival cathedral service, but pall rather quickly in concert. However, Max Reger's Benedictus op.59/9 and Melodia op. 59/11 prove a useful contrast, showing off the shimmering quiet registers and solo stops effectively.
The programme closes with Dunkleberg's Variations and Fugue on the chorale Es ist ein Schnitter, der heist Tod, which was composed in 1936 in memory of the fallen of the First World War. This work has much more interest for the listener, the music is much more assured and the traditional chorale variation structure is exploited cleverly, while the interplay between organ and brass being especially well handled. An effective duet between bells and timpani ushers in the final triumphant fugue.
Undoubtedly the shadow of the governing regime severely affected composing styles at this time, as virtually all the material is harmonically conventional. Passau Cathedral has certainly produced a disc of considerable interest to music historians by reviving this instrumental music from the difficult time of the late 1930s.
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