Christop Maria Moosmann
organ works of Arvo Pärt, Giacinto Scelsi, and John Cage. Recorded in the Cathedral of Rottenburg, Germany.
Moosmann's sensitive and articulate performances reveal just how expansive, how impressionistic, how exquisite the instrument can be. A gorgeous introduction to modern organ repertoire. * * * *
None of these three composers are or were organists, yet here is some of the most compelling contemporary organ music. Perhaps it is the intense religiosity of Pärt and the cooler spiritualism of Scelsi or Cage (both of whom were devotees of Zen Buddhism) that make their organ excursions so valid, because the organ is, finally, the instrument of the divine. All three have found ways to breathe life into the "monster which never breathes" (Stravinsky). Perhaps the breaths it takes are simply very long and deep.
All of Pärt's organ output is heard here. Compared to his repertory of choral and vocal sacred music, this is a small canon, but it is good to know it, especially in the light of his longer works such as "Passio" and "Tabula Rasa". Many of his principles of composition - the directness, the studied simplicity, what he calls "tintinnabuli" - are found in these works.
By Cagean standards, "Souvenir" is a relatively mild piece; for the most part it wanders freely along reiterating rather neutral melodic fragments and harmonic clusters with occasional rude outcroppings from the organ's lower and louder extremities. Like much of Cage's music, it is meant to be about that moment in time, and nothing more nor anything less.
Giacinto Scelsi has been called the Charles Ives *and* John Cage of Italy - the former because of his independence and removal from mainstream musical institutions, the latter because of an unceasing experimentalism. But he is really neither - he is only the Scelsi of Italy, "l'unico". "In nomine lucis" seems to be about the very foundations of the organ itself. It sits and rumbles mysteriously until it finally erupts near the end, where the listener is literally blown away. The beating tones caused by microtonal differences in the mechanical registrations of the organ have a rhythmic life of their own and give the music an otherwordly quality.
Sublime compositions finely recorded and performed -- the urge to explore must be strong with an instrument you physically occupy.
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