Magazine article The Tracker

The Last Rose of Summer

Magazine article The Tracker

The Last Rose of Summer

Article excerpt

The Last Rose of Summer. Matthias Schmelmer, Gunter Kennel, and Reinhard Hoffmann play American music on the 1870 Hook organ in the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Berlin. Label Harp LC 01703.

READERS OF THE TRACKER ARE SURELY AWARE OF THE VERY successful transplantation of the 1870, Opus 553, E. & G.G. Hook originally built for the First Unitarian Church of Woburn, Massachusetts, to the Church of the Holy Cross in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, Germany. And many have purchased the excellent debut compact disc of the organ with then-organist Gunter Kennel performing. Perhaps some have also heard my compact disc of American music recorded there in 2006 and published by Pape Verlag. But wait, there's more! Current organists of the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche Matthias Schmelmer and Reinhard Hoffmann are joined by former organist Gunter Kennel in a delightful exploration of American music.

Herr Schmelmer opens with two pieces by Arthur Foote, a Festival March and an Allegretto, which give us a fine introduction to the rich sound of this organ. Then Gunter Kennel demonstrates that this instrument's abilities are by no means limited to the nineteenth century. His performance of Weinberger's Bible Poems is opulently colored and played with deep intensity. Matthias Schmelmer returns with a fine account of a Prelude by John Knowles Paine. He follows this with a magical performance of Dudley Buck's Variations on "Old Folk's at Home," which opens with what has to be one of the most beautiful Vox Humanas in the world, and continues in a definitive performance of this work.

Gunter Kennel employs Pietro Yon's Toccatina for Flute to highlight the wealth of exceptional flutes. Then Schmelmer provides another definitive performance, this time of the Dudley Buck Variations on "The Last Rose of Summer," which provides the title for this disc. Of course, it is possible to follow Buck's detailed registrations to the letter on this organ, and the result shows the composer's exquisite sense of color and texture. For me the two Buck sets of variations justify the cost of the disc. These performances are as good as these pieces are going to get, and believe me, that's mighty good!

Reinhold Hoffmann favors us with two Scottish airs as arranged by Edwin Lemare, Loch Lomond and AuId Lang Syne. …

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