Mendelssohn Rarities from Loft Recordings is comprised of pieces for solo organ, for a cappella chorus, for choir and organ, and one meditative and very beautiful five minute work for choir with string quintet and organ that concludes the program. This is the repertoire of Loft’s specialty and an obvious love and deep knowledge of it is behind the very successful concept. The Christ Church Schola Cantorum, a fine amateur group, and three organists, David Higgs, Hans Davidsson and William Porter perform. Christ Episcopal Church, home to the splendid Craighead-Saunders organ heard here, and Fountain Court in the Memorial Art Gallery are two venues where the recordings were made, both in Rochester NY.
The program is made up of remnants, unfinished works, youthful endeavors and other pieces that have been orphaned from the larger works originally intended to contain them. As such, it’s rather a diverse collection of music – marches, motets, pieces that are exuberant and others that are tranquil – but Mendelssohn all, and without doubt, well worth your attention. I felt that the recording levels were aggressive on volume, but nothing a little counter-clockwise twist of the wrist couldn’t remedy.
Music critic Charles Rosen has called Mendelssohn “the greatest child prodigy the history of Western music has ever known,” which is indeed evinced by the fact that he wrote for the organ from the age of 11. Mendelssohn’s less well-known works are receiving new appraisal and attention. This disc of organ gems is sure to excite.
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn is regarded by classical music aficionados and critics alike, as one of the most prolific and gifted composers the world has ever known. Even those who could not name any of his works have heard it, as his “Wedding March” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which has accompanied many a bride down the aisle.
Chorus: Christ Church Schola Cantorum
The Christ Church Schola Cantorum of Rochester, New York, was founded by Stephen Kennedy in order to provide a service to the community in which art and liturgy would be seamlessly interwoven. Specializing in music of the Baroque and Renaissance, the ensemble has been featured in various festivals and concert series, including the annual Eastman Rochester Organ Inititaitve Festival and the Rochester Early Music Festival.
Director: Stephen Kennedy
Organ: David Higgs
One of America’s leading concert organists, David Higgs is also Chair of the Organ Department at the Eastman School of Music. He performs extensively throughout the United States and abroad, and has inaugurated many important new instruments including St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Vienna; the Meyerson Symphony Center…
Organ: Hans Davidsson
Hans Davidsson (born 1958) is a Swedish organist and organ teacher. He was one of the driving forces behind establishing the organ research center GOArt and the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative. He is currently professor of organ at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.
Organ: William Porter
Widely known as a performer and teacher in the United States and Europe, William Porter is a leader among organists working toward recovery of an historical approach to musical performance, and has achieved international recognition for his skill in improvisation in a wide variety of styles.