Mallorca Edition Historic Organs

Mallorca Edition Historic Organs
Martin Schmeding
001404. 6 SACDs. 7h 39’31
1. Padre Antonio Solèr (1729-1783): Sonatas, Fugues and Fandango
2. Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757): Sonatas
3. José Lidon (1748-1827): Complete Works for Organ
4. Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia (1561-1627): Organ Works
5. Pablo Bruna (1611-1679): Organ Works

Following his 17-part Max Reger Edition Martin Schmeding turns his hand to music from the Iberian Baroque. In addition to the 5 CDs of music, a 6th CD includes talks (in German) with Martin Schmeding and the organ builder Gerhard Grenzing who restored two of the three organs used. 

The first question when approaching this set of CDs is what is the best order to play the CDs? The published order makes no sense to me. Chronologically the order should be 4, 5, 2, 1, 3 (from the earliest to most recent). I would strongly recommend listening in that order, not least because it will help to give a  sense of the evolution of Iberian keyboard music. But if you want to annoy your neighbours and frighten the cat, start with CD1 and the opening blast of en-chamade trumpets. Spain is rather like France in that the peak period for the organ in construction terms was mid to late eighteenth century, but by then the music composed for the organ was, arguably, in musical decline. Starting with the earliest composers will demonstrate that development, and will also help you to appreciate the earlier repertoire without the blast of the later composers still ringing in your ears. But if you are one of those people who assume all organ music is dull and boring, then start with the later composers, whose music is certainly more fun. 

The first three CDs are played on the well-known 1762 Jordi Bosch Organ in St. Andreu, Santanyí, Mallorca (pictured below). Bosch is one of the most important organ builders of the Iberian region during this period and this instrument demonstrates the wide range of colours. Curiously, the earliest composer (Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia) is recorded on the latest organ, the 1823 Gabriel Thomàs organ in Campos. Although the sounds are attractive, it’s construction 200 years after Aguilera’s death does raise questions of authenticity. Pablo Bruna is recorded on a slightly more appropriate organ, the 1746 instrument by Mateu Bosch in Sant Pere, Sancelles.

The recording quality is excellent, although more care could have been taken in linking the tracks. There is occasionally volume and spatial differences between tracks, and the gaps are usually cut to complete silence, rather than background acoustic. For those familiar with some recordings of Iberian organs in the past, you will be relieved to find that the organs are all in tune.

Martin Schmeding’s playing is excellent, clear and well articulated, and with an impressive insight into the complex ornamentation issues of Iberian music. There are some important composers omitted from this set of five examples, both from the period before Aguilera and in the gap between Bruna and Scarlatti. But is this series of recordings whets your appetite for the sounds and music of the Iberian peninsula, you will find many other recordings to fill the gaps.

Image result for Bosch Organ in St. Andreu






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