Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ladegast organ in Schwerin

I'm not a fan of 19th century organs or of those composers who wrote for them, but a huge exception for me is the Ladegast organ (1871) in Schwerin (capital of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

The instrument itself is a masterpiece of romantic neo-Gothic design popular throughout the 19th century in Germany, and looks like it would be equally at home in a Caspar David Friedrich painting or a Hermann Hesse novel. It has a huge sound, and if you have a few moments, have a listen to it right here.

This performance of Liszt's Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H by Hans-Jürgen Kaiser is terrific; he is wisely concerned less about displaying his own virtuosity than managing the darkly brooding energies and the continually modulating harmonies within an abolutely gargantuan acoustic space. Surprisingly, the effect is audible through even the crappiest of computer loudspeakers.

Just imagine being there and hearing it in person, or indeed in any of these ancient and massively buillt North German cathedral churches (Lüneburg, Lübeck, Rostock, Stralsund), all of which are equipped with towering organs.

Schwerin Cathedral in winter, thanks Wiki Commons


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