SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

MENDELSSOHN: Preludes And Fugues, Op. 37 and Op. 35 – Adam Lenart, organ – MD&G

Much to like in this collection of excellently-performed and recorded Mendelssohn organ works.

Published on November 6, 2013

MENDELSSOHN: Preludes And Fugues, Op. 37 and Op. 35  – Adam Lenart, organ – MD&G

MENDELSSOHN: Preludes and Fugues, Op. 37 and Op. 35  – Adam Lenart, organ – MD&G multichannel (2+2+2) SACD 906 1799-6, 79:21 [Distr. by E1] [4/23/13] ****:

Although Mendelssohn is noted more for his symphonic and chamber works, the composer has a significant body of works for organ. Mendelssohn was a champion of Bach, and on this disc we have his Prelude and Fugues, Op. 35 and 37, which are very much in the spirit of Bach.

Mendelssohn played the organ throughout his childhood and played often in public during his adult years. He also performed at the organ in a fund raising concert in 1840 to dedicate a Bach monument in Leipzig.

The Six Preludes presented here are actually piano works transcribed for organ by Adam Lenart, who performs the works on this disc. Mendelssohn himself often arranged his piano works for organ, so there is no disservice to the composer’s art in these performances.

The Six Preludes and Fugues, Op. 35 were started in 1827. The Fugues were composed prior to the Preludes. Some of the works are an interesting blend of the baroque and Bachian flavors. Organist Lenart plays with precision and feeling in these performances, and the end result seems natural and ‘right’ given the origins of the works.

The Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 37 originated as organ compositions. The Three Preludes were dedicated to Thomas Atwood, who was organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The theme of the first work of this set is based on improvisations Mendelssohn performed at the organ when he was a young man. The performance for all these works is excellent, and the quality of difficult pedal work is especially noteworthy.

The 5.1 recording is mellow, capturing the acoustics of the Martin Luther Kirche Detmold. The surrounds are used for ambiance, while the front image of the organ and its majestic pipes is stable and realistic.

The organ music of Mendelssohn has escaped my listening over the years, so it was pleasing to hear these works, both in the original forms, and,  in the case of the Six Preludes, as an able transcription. With an excellent performance and a well engineered recording there is much to like in this disc.

—Mel Martin


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