Sigfrid’s Unbeaten Tracks
Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Op 46 & 101
Graham Barber (organ)
Fugue State Films FSRCD016. 70’53
Graham Barber has built a reputation for exploring some of the lesser-known byways of the organ world, particularly from the 19th and 20th centuries, and this recording is an excellent example of that focus. Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) was a high profile organ composer in the UK and USA during the early years of the 20th century, so much so that the Organ Music Society of London arranged a ten-day festival of his music in 1930. He was, however, almost completely overlooked in his native Germany, where composers were taking a rather different path. A brief renaissance in the UK in the 1970s soon melted away, with the exception of the ‘March Triomphale’ on Nun danket alle Gott (Op65/59) which remains popular to this day, perhaps because it is a rare example of a German chorale melody that is also well-known in England, as ‘Now thank we all our God’.
Maximum Reger – The Last Giant
Fugue State Films. FSFDVD011. 6 DVD. c15h
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian (Max) Reger (1873 -1916) is generally best known, if, perhaps, not always best liked, by organists. He is a bit of a love-or-hate composer, his extended and frequently dense organ pieces can be as hard to play as they, arguably, can be to listen to. As a breed, organists tend to concentrate on a composer’s organ music (with the possible exception of Bach) rather than exploring their music for other forces. Reger is one such, along with, for example, the contemporary, but longer-lived French composer Tournemire. If Reger is known at all to non-organists, it is probably through his chamber music. This extraordinary Fugue State Films box set of 6 DVDs, including a three-part documentary ‘The Last Giant’, aims to redress the balance of bringing Reger’s non-organ music and complex life story to organists, and the music of Reger in toto to non-organists who are not familiar with his music. For filmmaker and organist Will Fraser, of Fugue State Films, it is clearly a labour of love. Continue reading