Let the browser beware: Mozart wrote few or no actual works for the organ solo. Why this should be so bears further investigation, for he was a church musician for a good-sized chunk of his career, dazzled audiences with his organ improvisations, and is even said to have referred to the organ as the king of instruments. The Mozart works on this release are a combination of small keyboard pieces or fragments that may have been intended for an organ, the Adagio for glass harmonica, K. 356, and several works for mechanical organ or mechanical clock, a music-box-like instrument bearing little resemblance to the 1798 Johann Nepomuk Holzhay instrument played by Christian Brembeck on this recording. Indeed, the mechanical organ pieces are pretty much overwhelmed by the full-size instrument, although Brembeck delivers a spooky little rendition of the glass harmonica piece. More interesting than the Mozart pieces are the works by the lesser composers on the disc. It may be that there will be galant organ music in hell along with the English cooking and German humor and French automotive engineering, but these attempts to reduce the legacy of organ music to the transparent textures of the Classical style are often very diverting. The chronologically latest composer on the disc, Johann Christian Rinck, is represented by a Theme and Variations on "Ah, vour dirai-je, Maman," otherwise known as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and also the subject of a set of Mozart variations. The terms "light" and "organ music" don't often go together, but here, and in the lovely short Pastorale in C major by Jan Kuchar, they do. Brembeck's playing is imaginative, and the Super Audio sound is impressive, so buyers interested in this minor corner of Mozart's output can feel safe with this choice; the attempt to provide a wider picture of the organ music of the late eighteenth century is preferable to other releases that have focused exclusively on transcriptions of Mozart works.
Der galante Stil (The Gallant Style): Mozart and His Contemporaries Review
by James Manheim