Magazine article The American Organist

Homage to Handel

Magazine article The American Organist

Homage to Handel

Article excerpt

HOMAGE TO HANDEL. Peter King, organist. IV/82 Klais organ (1997) of Bath Abbey, England. Regent Records REGCD311. Regent records.com. Available from Ohscatalog. org. This meaty program features arrangements of works by Handel and works inspired by him as viewed through the lens of 19thand 20th-century sensibilities. The two pillars of the program are gigantic works, lasting a combined total of thirty minutes. The first is German composer Arno Landmann's Variationen über ein Thema von Georg Friedrich Händel. A friend of Max Reger, Landmann studied with Karl Straube and was organist of the Christuskirche in Mannheim from 1911 until 1943. Landmann was strongly influenced by his connections with Reger and Straube as well as by the monumental Steinmeyer organ at his church (which survives in its original condition), a fact that is clearly evident in these variations based on Handel's Sarabande from his Harpsichord Suite in D minor. From simple and straightforward to impetuous, sweeping virtuosity, the work is cast in large, contrasting sections. It is the epitome of late German romanticism.

The second major work is the Homage to Handel of Sigfrid Karg-Elert. Using the bass line of the Passacaglia that concludes Handel's Seventh Harpsichord Suite in G minor as its theme, it is a set of 54 "studies" that subject the simple line to every kind of treatment imaginable, from its quiet beginning to the vehement conclusion, all in Karg-Elert's inimitable colorful style. (There is even a brief reference to the Hallelujah Chorus!) Karg-Elert also arranged a number of Handel's works (as he did those of Bach), two of which are included here. The Variations on "The Harmonious Blacksmith" cloak the original harpsichord piece in thick, expanded, colorful textures, with the addition of a newly created fourth variation. …

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