The art of transition

26 July 2019

Giorgio Parolini elicited gentle and frenzied sounds from the queen of instruments at the Meiningen Organ Summer concert in the city church. And not just with “classic”.

The Adagio from Charles Marie Widors (1844–1937) Symphony No. 6 (op. 42/2) comes to an end in a calm and playful manner, the carefree melody is carried by muted major sounds, which then fade away until they finally fall silent somewhere in the nave. Pause. Then Marco Enrico Bossi (1861–1925) begins. The dramatic density at the beginning of his Thème et Variations (op. 115) discharges in a jolting fortissimo. Then the organ pipes shriek the melodies. Fingers and feet dart over keys and pedals. All lightheartedness is as if extinguished.
The organ concert by Giorgio Parolini as part of the Meiningen organ summer on Wednesday evening in the town church was a celebration of the transitions. The Milanese routinely lined up loud and soft, mild and furious, gaiety and distress.
The concentrated gaze of the scholarly organist was mostly attached to the score, only rarely did his gaze change to the keyboard. There – under his glasses – he checked the position of his hands.
The opening Sonata No. 8 (op. 132) by Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger (1839–1901) already showed a chain of musical changes: Between massive chords happy motifs keep arising, repeatedly drawing new hope, only to ultimately end up at the inevitable E -Minor pit at the conclusion. With good reason city cantor Sebastian Fuhrmann announced the Italian’s concert as calming and at the same time disturbing organ music.
The choice of composers also ensured diversity. Parolini not only presented works by romantic artists to the audience, but also presented three pieces by the contemporary composer Grimoaldo Macchia (born 1972). While his organ chorale “The Silent Prayer of a Great Man” strides ahead in vocal phrases, the early middle section of his chorale fantasy “Christ is resurrected” could also function as film music for a chase.

Encore delivered
Befittingly, Macchia’s paraphrase on the Antiphon “Ave Maria” has a decelerating character before Giorgio Parolini concludes his one-hour concert with Max Reger’s (1873–1916) “Hallelujah! To praise God, remain my souls joy” (op. 52/3), which – of course – begins again in a very contrasting manner with a dramatic forte.
With this high art of transitions, despite the somewhat cooler temperatures in the church, it is not surprising that the virtuoso maestro at the organ really worked up a sweat. After sustained applause, Parolini sparkled with an encore: in keeping with his guest performance in Meiningen, he brought a diverting chorale arrangement by Johannes Brahms to life.

Markus Kilian (Meininger Tageblatt, 26 July 2019)