Cheerful and encouraging

17 September 2004

Final concert of the series “Sommerkonzerte” and concert in the “Bachtage” with Giorgio Parolini at the Erlöserkirche

Last year Giorgio Parolini was forced to cancel at the last moment his concert with the International Organ Summer (Sommerkonzerte) because of family problems. Finally now the Milanese organist is guest in Potsdam. With his concert at the Erlöserkirche, full house, he closed the Organ Summer “a gusto italiano”, offering at the same time an anticipation for the “Bachtage”. Not only the Fantasia by Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713 – 1780), Johann Sebastian Bach’s pupil, but also some mediterranean souvenirs convey to us the soul full of melodies of the Italians. But at the beginning the clear and well defined borders of the North German Organ School are perceived: the melody of Dietrich Buxtehude’s (1637-1707) Praeludium in E minor whispers quietly and subdued, followed by the Chorale Prelude on “Christ unser Herr, zum Jordan kam”, played resolutely. These contrasts are characteristic of the Organ Summer, and we find them too in two Bach’s pieces we listened to different times during the series. Very cheerful and dancing was the Chorale Prelude on “Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele” BWV 654. The organists Martin Stephan and Kilian Nauhaus played this piece with the same idea of timbre, using flute-stops. Contrary to his Viennese teacher Peter Planyavsky, who during his concert played Bach’s Toccata, Adagio and Fugue quickly and merrily, Giorgio Parolini starts this work in a more restrained way, without be lacking in virtuosity and elegance in the Pedal-solo – always “a gusto italiano”. The maximum of the Italian “cliché” was reached with Krebs’ Fantasia. Then we have a sharp clear separation with “Toccata capricciosa” by Lionel Rogg (born in 1936 and teacher of the organist), characterized by syncopated rhytms and by passages reminiscent of Messiaen. Certainly an original piece, as the two pieces from “Parafrasi Gregoriane” by Eugenio Maria Fagiani (born in 1972), with an archaic plan enriched by “clusters” and syncopations. In this case the composer refused decidely to follow the italian cliché which ascribes to Italy only opera and belcanto. But no fear! “Thème et Variations” Op. 115 by Marco Enrico Bossi (1861-1925) brings us again the classical picture of the Italian music. After an angry beginning we can leave ourselves to the melodies, which are not at all disturbed by the vehemence of the chords in the principal voices. Sounds full of colours everywhere and Giorgio Parolini utilizes all the stops of the organ. With a mild encore he thanks for the vigorous applause.
The 14th edition of the “Sommerkonzerte” in Potsdam by now is part of the past. The twelve concerts, carried out some at the Erlöserkirche and some at the Friedenskirche, gave us the possibility to hear many pieces unknown in this country. Obviously Bach was the favourite, followed by Messiaen and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Some works were played twice or three times, giving the possibility to do some interesting comparisons. Anyhow the absolute “highlight” was the inauguration of the Woehl organ at the Friedenskirche. We spent some really exciting weeks.
Peter Buske

From “Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten”, 17/09/2004