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Romantic Organ Music by German Composers

Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, Max Reger, Joseph Rheinberger

E.F. Walcker Organ [1902 / 2008]



"[The Walcker organ] contains some lovely Romantic colors which Hell uses effectively."
Delcamp, American Record Guide [May/June 2019]
“A new MSR Classics CD provides a fine introduction to Rhineberger in addition to being a tour de force for Felix Hell, a performer of remarkable skill and agility in negotiating the complexities of Rhineberger’s music as well as the other material on this very interesting disc... Hell is quite clearly at home with the individual characteristics of each piece as well as the stylistic elements that they have in common, and his choice of registration seems completely apt throughout the sequence... this recording has insights aplenty throughout, along with some first-rate playing on a 1902 E.F. Walcker organ that was thoroughly restored in 2008 and has just the right sound for the sort of Romantic music on which Hell focuses.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad.com [May 2019]
“Felix Hell is an accomplished organist who plays with enthusiasm, excitement and urgency a variety of organ music from the entire history of the instrument... To do justice to the sonic range of this recording, it would best played on a quality stereo system. Its dynamic range runs from softly poetic among the Rheinberger “Character Pieces” to strong bass and forte playing in Prelude and Fugue on B.A.C.H. by Liszt. The recording is very clear and potent. There is so much depth and power in the music, soft to loud, no ear buds, headphones, car stereos, Bose CD players or Amazon Echoes can properly translate Felix’s CD into a personal concert, such as a stereo system with full range speakers may. One needs proper playback to unleash it.”
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [May 2019]
“[Hell] sets standards that older and honored players would struggle to equal”
The American Organist
A native of Germany, FELIX HELL is one of the most sought after concert organists in the world. He has been featured as a recitalist and concerto soloist in more than 900 concerts throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Hell is known for his diverse and innovative programming, drawing upon a repertoire encompassing five centuries. He has received global recognition for his marathon performances of the entire organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which encompass approximately 250 compositions and close to 20 hours of performance time. He has since performed the complete Bach cycle four times, most recently in 2013 in Korea. Hell has a substantial discography of 11 albums, with the recordings frequently broadcast throughout the United States and around the world; he has appeared on television globally. His project “Music Across America” allows him to travel with his own Touring Organ, performing organ concertos and recitals in spaces that do not house pipe organs, liberating the instrument from its historic confines. Hell, an avid supporter of new music for organ, frequently collaborates with composers. In 2007, he received Johns Hopkins University’s prestigious Outstanding Graduate Award. Hell holds the position of Organ Artist Associate at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, and in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he is the Distinguished Artist in Residence at the United Lutheran Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Organ at the Sunderman Conservatory. In 2011, Hell was appointed Distinguished Visiting Artist at Kosin University in South Korea. Felix Hell studied at the Juilliard School in New York, Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (BM) and Peabody Institute in Baltimore (AD, MM and DMA).
[ www.FelixHell.com ]

Christuskirche in Lüdenscheid is home to an E.F. Walcker organ built in 1902 with 36 stops, divided over 3 manuals and pedals. The instrument features pneumatic cone chests. This technology was invented by Walcker and soon became an industry standard, replacing mechanical slider chests which were prevalent until that point. Pneumatic cone chests provided several advantages for the demands of music written at the turn of the century. In 1957, the organ underwent a general restoration by Orgelbau Koch in Wuppertal. This restoration occurred much in the spirit of a movement known as the “Orgelbewegung”, which dismissed tonal ideals from the romantic period and idolized the sound of baroque organs. As a result, the organ was revoiced and the stop list was altered to reflect the tonal ideals of that period. While such changes were fashionable during the Orgelbewegung, it caused instruments to be neither thorough baroque or romantic and lacked tonal continuity. There are no known examples of instruments that benefitted from these alterations in the long run. During the 1957 restoration, the organ was also gutted of its tubular pneumatic action and was reequipped with electric stop and key action. Around the year 2000, it became clear that another restoration was unavoidable, as liturgical organ playing — let alone concertizing — became increasingly difficult. This was not only due to the lack of tonal coherence, but also due to the mechanical deterioration of the instrument which was a result from the apparent half-hearted restoration in 1957. After discussions with organ consultants, organ builders, the regional church (Landeskirche) and German Authority for the Protection of Historical Buildings and Monuments, it was determined that a complete restoration back to the instrument’s original condition would not be feasible, and that compromises would need to be made. The central objective of the restoration was to revert the tonal concept back to that of 1902. The electric stop and key action of 1957 was retained and modernized. The original purchase contract, retrieved from the state archives of Baden Württemberg, became the main reference for the stop list of 1902. The original pipe scalings were provided by the archives of E.F. Walcker in order to reconstruct each individual stop. Upon special request of the congregation, the pedal compass was expanded from 27 to 30 keys.

Orgelbaufirma Gebr. Stockmann was founded by brothers Bernhard and Theodor Stockmann 1889 and to this day operates from the same location it was started: Schützenstr. 6 in Werl, Germany. In 1955, three months before his 100th birthday, Bernhard Stockmann passed away. Since that day, brothers Bernhard and Rudolf continued leading the company. They dedicated their lives to building organs, guided by the philosophy of studying the traditions of organ building, learning of modern trends and, finally, to implement their knowledge in artistic and artisanal craftsmanship. Following the death of Bernhard Stockmann (1968) who, through his sensitive sense of intonation, had given Stockmann organs their characteristic sound, Rudolf Stockmann took on the responsibility of the company. Through his leadership, the company expanded to 30 employees and built organs all throughout Germany. On February 16, 1990, Rudolf Stockmann died in a tragic accident at the organ workshop — only a few months following the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding. Starting 1990, Ruth Stockmann took on executive leadership, and the company overcame the difficult time after Rudolf Stockmann’s death through the engagement and loyalty of the company’s employees. In 1996, Petra Stockmann-Becker joined the company and became co-owner in 2001, making her the third generation to run the family business. Today, projects span from central Germany to Poland and Norway. The company employs 13 workers, with some having been with the business for more the 35 years. Gebr. Stockmann is guided by high standards of excellence in manufacturing and artistry, and customer-centered project planning. [Petra Stockmann-Becker]

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

anlässlich des 750. Stadtjubiläums haben Organist Felix Hell und Wolfgang Schwitzer gemeinsam das Album „Poetic Visions“ mit Orgelmusik in der Lüdenscheider Christuskirche aufgenommen und produziert. Die CD enthält Werke deutscher Komponisten, eingespielt auf der Walcker-Orgel. Im Namen des Rates und der Verwaltung der Stadt Lüdenscheid – und zugleich auch persönlich – gratuliere ich zu der Veröffentlichung dieses Albums und wünsche den Initiatoren damit viel Erfolg.

Weiterhin beeindruckt mich die Tatsache, dass das Projekt überwiegend durch Sponsorengelder finanziert wurde. Einen herzlichen Dank an dieser Stelle an alle Spender. Ein Anliegen des Projektes ist es, den Klang der Lüdenscheider Walcker-Orgel einem größeren Publikum zugänglich zu machen. Durch die Vervielfältigung der Musikstücke auf CD, haben nun Orgelfreunde auf der ganzen Welt die Möglichkeit, dem besonderen Klang der Walcker-Orgel zu lauschen. Denn das aufwendig restaurierte Instrument aus der Zeit der Romantik, ist nicht nur eine kulturelle Bereicherung für die Stadt Lüdenscheid, sondern auch für alle Hörerinnen und Hörer.

Daher danke ich allen Beteiligten, allen voran Felix Hell und Wolfgang Schwitzer für ihr Engagement bei der Aufnahme und Produktion dieser CD und wünsche den Hörerinnen und Hörern einen ganz besonderen Musikgenuss.

Dieter Dzewas
Lüdenscheid, im August 2018

Felix Hell, geboren 1985 in Frankenthal (Pfalz), ist einer der aktivsten und meistgefragten Konzertorganisten unserer Zeit. Solistisch ist Felix Hell bisher in mehr als 900 Konzerten aufgetreten. Im In0 und Ausland, darunter in Frankreich, Spanien, Italien, Norwegen, Russland, island, Kolumbien, Lettland, Malaysia, Singapur, Taiwan, Korea, Australien, Neuseeland, Kanada und USA, erspielte er sich Kritiken höchsten Lobes. Seit 1999 lebt Felix Hell in den USA, wo er seine Studien an der Juilliard school in New York, dem Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (BM) und dem Peabody Institute der Johns Hopkins University (MM, AD, DMA) in Baltimore absolvierte. Meilenstein seiner noch jungen Karriere war die viermalige Aufführung des Gesamtwerks für Orgel von Johann Sebastian Bach 2006 und 2007 in den USA, 2007 in Deutschland und schließlich 2013 — anlässlich des 130-jährigen Jubiläums deutschkoreanischer Beziehungen — in Korea. Neben seiner Konzerttätigkeit ist Felix Hell sowohl der Kirchenmusik als auch der Lehre verpflichtet. Er ist Organ Artist Associate an der St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan (New York), Distinguished Organist in Residence am Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg und Assistant Professor for Organ am Sunderman Conservatory in Gettysburg. Seit 2011 ist Felix Hell Distingushied Visitng Artist an der Kosin Universität in Busan, Korea.
[ www.FelixHell.com ]

MAX REGER (1873-1916)
Toccata in D minor
Fugue in D major


I. Präludium
II. Romanze
III. Canzonetta
IV. Intermezzo
V. Vision
VI. Duett
VII. In memoriam
VIII. Pastorale
IX. Klage
X. Abendfriede
XI. Passacaglia
XII. Trauermarsch


FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)

Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Uwe Hofmann, Dipl.-Toningenieur
[ Hofmann_Uwe@web.de ]

MSR Classics
Selected Works for Organ FELIX HELL