Heroic Proportions: Selected Works for Organ = Music by BACH, FRANCK, BARBER, STEWART, WILLAN – Felix Hell – MSR Classics

Heroic Proportions: Selected Works for Organ – J. W. Steere & Son Organ, Opus 665 – Music by BACH, FRANCK, BARBER, STEWART, WILLAN –  Felix Hell – MSR Classics CD MS 1542  TT: 69:00 (2/28/17) ****:

A fine performance of classic and more contemporary organ works

Felix Hell is one of the most sought-after concert organists of his generation. He has had a fine   career as a concerto soloist and recitalist and has performed more than 850 solo recitals throughout his native Germany, as well as in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Spain, Russia, and throughout the United States, where he has performed more than 500 recitals in 46 states.

At the age of 21, Felix Hell received global recognition for his performances of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach in three full cycles. Then, in 2013, Felix Hell was engaged by the Germany Embassy in Seoul, Korea, to perform the complete organ works of Bach there, commemorating the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and South Korea.

This disc features two classic organ pieces by Bach and Franck, along with some more contemporary works by Barber, Eric Stewart (his Sonetto on this disc is a world premier) and Healy Willan’s Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue.

The organ is the celebrated J.W. Steere & Son Organ, located at the Saint Mark Lutheran Church in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

The performance presented here is flawless. I found the Samuel Barber Adagio most interesting in a fine transcription for organ by William Strickland. The Stewart Sonetto is also quite compelling and a worthwhile listen to this new composition for organ.

While not a high resolution presentation, I found the sound quite good on this CD. The organ pedals were well rendered, and the higher registers of the organ were bright without being strained. It’s a fine recording of a great instrument.

Track list:
1. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major St. Anne , BWV 552
  2. Cesar Franck: Piece Heroique
  3. Samuel Barber-Strickland: Adagio, Op.11
  4. Eric R. Stewart: Sonetto
  5. Healey Willan: Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, B.149

—Mel Martin

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