Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Fritz Heitmann playing excerpts from J. S. Bach “Clavierübung Dritter Teil”

Here is another great release from The European Archive (http://europarchive.org/).

This time it’s Fritz Heitmann playing excerpts from J. S. Bach “Dritter Teil” at the Arp-Schnitger organ in Eosander Chapel at Charlottenburg Castle in Berlin. One very interesting thing is that this organ was destroyed during the Second World War in 1944, so this is the only sound document of this organ.
I’ve searched for some information on Heitmann and found a little on the German Wiki:

Fritz Heitmann (1891-1953) war ein deutscher Organist.

Erste Ausbildung bei seinem Vater, der ebenfalls Organist war. Dann besuchte Heitmann das Hamburger Konservatorium für Musik und von 1909 - 1911 war er am Leipziger Konservatorium Schüler von Karl Straube, Max Reger und Josef Pembaur. Als Organist von 1912 bis 1914 am Dom in Schleswig tätig, dann von 1918 bis 1932 an der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche und seit 1919 zugleich an der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, schließlich von 1932 bis zu seinem Tode Domorganist am Berliner Dom.

Zahlreiche Konzertreisen führten ihn durch Europa und die USA.

Ab 1923 war er Orgelprofessor an der Berliner Akademie für Schul- und Kirchenmusik, später lehrte er auch am Stern'schen Konservatorium bzw. der Hochschule für Musik. Seit diesem Jahr leitete er auch die von ihm gegründete Berliner Motettenvereinigung.

Heitmann galt als bedeutender Bach-Interpret. 1938 nahm er für die Telefunkenplatte an der Arp-Schnitger-Orgel des Schlosses Charlottenburg die Deutsche Orgelmesse auf, 1950 spielte er für das gleiche Label eine der ersten Aufnahmen von Bachs Kunst der Fuge ein.

Wie die Charlottenburger Schnitger-Orgel wurde auch die Sauer-Orgel der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche 1943 bei Bombenangriffen zerstört. Es gibt aber zehn Aufnahmen auf Schellackplatten von 1929 und 1930, auf denen der Klang dieser Orgel, gespielt von Fritz Heitmann, festgehalten wurde.
(From Wiki)

As mentioned in the German text, the “Dritter Teil” was recorded in 1938 – more precisely on September 1st – quite a task recording 46 mins of 78rpms in one day! The origin of this release is from a LP released in 1954. The sound is unclear, dark and distant. It might be due to the transfer from the 78rpms to the LP done back in 1954 or the condition of the LP used for the digital transfer.
I’ve found a another transfer of the “Duetto” done probably from the original 78rpms, which is much more clear and precise. I’ve located the original 78rpms in the Danish State Library, and will try to see what condition these are in and maybe have them transferred to replace these.
Here you can find some interesting photos, information and the transfer of “Duetto”:

I could’t find any picture of Fritz Heitmann, so I used a picture of the façade of the organ in the chapel taken from the website above.

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Edouard Mignan, Marcel Dupré and Jeanne Demessieux

Now it’s time for the next release with the recordings of Marcel Dupré and Jeanne Demessieux in Saint Mark’s Church, London. However, first we start with a recording with Edouard Mignan playing the first movement of Mendelssohns 6th sonata.

Edouard Mignan (1884-1969) was a French organist and composer. He was born in Orléans and 14 years old he became the organist of église Saint Paterne. He studied organ in Paris with Alexandre Guilmant and Louis Vierne and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1912. He was organist at Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin from 1917 to 1935. He succeeded Henri Dallier as organist of la Madeleine in 1935 and held that post until 1962.
(From Wiki)

Edouard Mignan was succeded by Jeanne Demessieux in La Madeleine.
The technical quality of this recording is very poor and everything sounds very chaotic and distant. Also there were some difficulties transferring the second 78rpm side, so there is a big pitch problem there. I’ll try to get it fixed.

I know I’ve published the exact same recording of the Toccata and fugue in d with Jeanne Demessieux, but I think this transfer is a little bit better in quality, maybe due to the condition of the original 78rpm.

This release concludes with the two remaining Chorales by Franck with Marcel Dupré at the keyboard - see the first release with Dupré for the a-minor Chorale.

Once more a big thanks to Michael Gartz for the transfers and to Claus Byrith for the CEDAR and digital splicing.

(UPDATE: Thanks to organist Anders Riber, who has kindly provided the picture of Edouard Mignan)

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Fernando Germani from Saint Ignazio, Rome (part 2)

Now it’s time for the second release with Fernando Germani at the organ in Saint Ignazio in Rome. These recordings are interesting in many ways. First of all they again show Germani as one of the greatest organists. His beautifully formed musical lines coupled with a fine sense of touch and a great technical ability is a general thread in all his performances. I recommend listening to all of the recordings, but especially the Schumann, his own arrangement of the Frescobaldi Toccata, and Liszt's BACH are simply amazing.

Concerning the arrangement of the Frescobaldi Toccata, the sheet music can be found at The Petrucci Library (http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/10811).

Collecting information about these old recordings is often very difficult, since the documentation on the records themselves are often very limited. Michael Gartz and I weren’t able to find the composer for the “In dulci jubilo” and I couldn't find any information on track 8 whatsoever. So if you have any information, please help me with these two recordings.

Again great thanks to Michael Gartz for providing these recordings and to Claus Byrith for editing and cleaning.
(UPDATE: Thanks to Kristian Krogsøe and "dan" for helping me with the missing composers)

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

André Marchal playing Johann Sebastian Bach in St. Eustache, Paris

André Marchal (1894-1980)

With great thanks to The European Archive (http://europarchive.org) I’ve got permission to use their collection of public domain organ recordings. I haven’t altered anything beside cutting the sound into tracks and renaming them.
The first item from EA is an LP released in France around 1945-1950 with André Marchal playing works by Johann Sebastian Bach in his church Saint Eustache in Paris.

André Marchal (1894-1980) was a French organist and organ teacher. He was one of the great initiators of the organ revival in France.
Marchal was born blind. He studied the organ under Eugène Gigout at the Paris Conservatoire where in 1913 he won their premier prix. He also won the prix d' excellence for fugue and counterpoint in Caussade's class (his counterpoint teacher) in 1917.
He taught organ at Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris, and was titular organist of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1915-1945) and Saint-Eustache (1945-1963), his resignation in 1963 being brought about over a conflict over the correct organ builder to be hired to restore Saint-Eustache's instrument.
He was an unparalleled improviser and was even recognized as such by Fauré. Among his students were many brilliant musicians like Louis Thiry or Jean-Pierre Leguay, one of four titulaires des grands orgue of Notre-Dame de Paris.
(From Wikipedia)

As mentioned in the Wiki-text Marchal was one of the key figures of the French “Orgelbewegung”. His ideas were partly shaped by his teacher Eugene Gigout, who had already begun to teach and point his students toward these new ideas, so along with fellow organists like Joseph Bonnet they were part of the generation of musicians who had a growing interest in the classical and baroque music and organ building. His advocacy of the neoclassical style was to shape the future generation(s) of organ playing.

It’s quite interesting though, that his playing heavily relies on the romantic way of organ playing, with the legato style, long melodic lines and the use of register crecscendo and extensive use of the swell box. Recorded somewhere between 1945-1950, we are able to hear the old Ducroquet organ of Saint Eustache.

The LP used for this transfer is, as far I can see, an American release of the French recording original done for the label Ducretet. Further information about André Marchal and the complete discography can be found here: http://www.andremarchal.com

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