Organ Works

(CD - Nimbus #5411)

Review by

"Back to Bach," a Modernist slogan advocating the use of early models, is exemplified in Hindemith's three organ sonatas (1937-1940). These are sonatas in a pre-classical sense. The adoption of Baroque forms, contrapuntal devices, and terraced dynamics demonstrate Hindemith's need to revive older methods to create new music. The Sonata No. 1 is in two movements, a dignified introduction and Allegro, followed by a lyrical slow section and a fantasia of dramatic contrasts. The Sonata No. 2 opens with a brisk ritornello movement with archaic touches in its sequences of parallel fifths. A lovely siciliana and a mischievous fugue complete this compact work. The straightforward adaptation of folk songs in the Sonata No. 3 make it the most accessible of the series. Schoenberg's Variations on a Recitative is a highly chromatic work, reflecting a return to his pre-atonal style, though the music is murky and sounds ill suited to the instrument. Sonata for organ (fragments of two movements) is a brief serial attempts that is lighter in tone but only hints at what Schoenberg might have accomplished. Pepping's Fugues (3) on Bach are vivacious, reflective, and majestic in turn, and are the most conservative works on this program. Kevin Bowyer's accurate and smooth performances are satisfying, particularly in the sonatas.