A German concert program with an Italian note

5 June 2013

The 18th Organ Spring in Böblingen: The organist Giorgio Parolini from Milan played on Sunday in St. Mary´s.

Böblingen. Milan is the second largest city in Italy with a population of 1.3 million. Many venerable churches are here, Giorgio Parolini was active in one of them: the Basilica of St. Eufemia. Parolini was titular organist there, an honorary title awarded to him for his virtuoso abilities on the organ. This musician, born 1971, was guest artist in Böblingen on Sunday and presented the third concert of this year’s Organ Spring at St. Mary’s. The Italian brought along a German program, but Italy was never-the-less present, for several of the German composers made reference to Italian music.
The first part of the concert was dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach and his students. Bach had numerous capacities: Organ and Keyboard virtuoso, Conductor, Music Director, specialist in instrument building. But he was also an important and gifted teacher. He taught his sons but also many other promising musicians. Two of his students were heard in St. Mary’s, among them the master organist Johann Ludwig Krebs, whom Bach especially highly regarded. The organist from Milan unfolded this interesting program with great tranquillity and circumspection. He served the works and does not place special emphasis on the ego. At the beginning this circumspection was evident, but quickly became more and more sure of himself. The evening began with Johann Gottfried Walther. Walther and Bach met in Weimar and became friends. The venerable teacher appears in Walther’s great Music Lexicon, a first sign of Bach´s fame. Parolini opened his concert with a transcription for organ by Walther of a concerto by Vivaldi, thus also from Italy. Parolini identified with the playfulness of the music. Italy was also a reference point for Johann Sebastian Bach. About 1713/14 he discovered the newest form of the Italian Concerto. Bach´s Toccata in F-Major BWV 540 is modelled after the solo concertos of Vivaldi. It is a broad work which flows into a grand fugue. This music stood in the centre of the concert. The organist had to deal with immense masses of sound which he structured clearly. Beside this music all else grows pale. Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) was one of Bach´s favourite students and one of his most gifted. He enjoyed an excellent reputation as an organist. In his Fugue on the notes “B-A-C-H” Krebs defers to his teacher. The four notes impregnate the entire piece. One hears the proximity to the teacher but everything is discernibly leaner. Krebs is very close to the Classical Period here. It is music of great elegance which the young Italian organist sensed and presented.

Everything orbits around Bach.
After the intermission Bach was still the main theme: Max Reger, whose “Benedictus” meditatively resounded, learned much from Bach. One could hear it in his music. Mendelssohn initiated the Bach-Renaissance in the 19th Century with a performance of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829. Parolini applied himself to the third Organ Sonata in A-Major by Felix Mendelssohn. This romantic composer created six such sonatas: they were published in 1845 simultaneously in several major music centers: Leipzig, London, Paris and in Parolini´s native Milan. This clearly shows that Mendelssohn was a European happening. In the third Organ Sonata in brilliant A-Major Mendelssohn falls back on baroque forms. The influence of Bach can be sensed. The pedal presents the Chorale “Aus tiefer Not” as a counterpoint to a dissonant Theme (which is taken from the “Lobgesang-Symphony”). In these harmonic spheres Parolini apparently feels quite at home. He let the organ of St. Mary´s shine in her whole glory and without haste. This Mendelssohn was impressive. High quality music right up to the end: the Toccata in b-minor by Eugène Gigout (1844-1925) is an effective work which exudes color, a major work by this French master. At the end of the well-attended concert, there was great applause for the Italian organist.

Di Jan Renz (Böblinger Kreiszeitung, May 5th, 2013)