Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for October, 2010

The Majesty of Dresden and the Simplicity of Reinhardtsgrimma

Morning dawned bright, clear and cold in Dresden.  We enjoyed yet another delicious and bountiful German breakfast before heading out for our day of exploration and recording.

We started the day by meeting organist, Thomas Lennartz at the Dresden Hofkirche to play the magnificent organ built by Silbermann. This stunning organ was recently restored to its original glory–a majestic work of art equal to the majesty of the space in which it is played.   The sound of this instrument resounded through the reverberant space leaving the listener and player in awe.

I enjoyed playing and recording the large toccatas and fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach.  It was a space for playing loudly–for using the full resources of this large instrument.  It was time to experience filling this cathedral with the glory of Bach.  While I enjoyed playing this instrument, David enjoyed exploring and photographing the opulence of the church including the intricate pulpit, the altar area and of course the organ case–all of which were generously gilded with gold leaf.  The renovation and restoration of the cathedral and organ had recently been completed in 2004.

Since we had some free time, we took time to be tourists and explored the court area located across the street from the Hofkirche.  We enjoyed walking the high walkways of the court area and looking down into the court gardens and at the surrounding buildings of the court and city.  The majesty of the court was evident in the gorgeously restored entry gate adorned with its massive gold crown.  We sat in a glass pavillion and enjoyed another tasty coffee and pastry, relaxing and simply taking in the view of this historic riverfront city.

Soon, however, we were back in the KA and headed for the village of Reinhardtsgrimma, a small village near the Czech border. The terrain became hilly as we left Dresden and traveled through tiny village after tiny village along narrow barely two lane roads making our way to the Dorfkirche of Reinhardtsgrimma where one more Silbermann awaited our discovery.

The weather had turned cold and a hint of snow was in the air as we were directed to the pastor’s home.  Finding this home, a lovely timbered house three centuries old, we met Johannes and Kristen Keller, the pastor and his wife.  We were warmly welcomed to Reinhardtsgrimma and taken to the simple yet lovely church to see and play and record on another gorgeous Silbermann organ.

This church and organ had also recently been reconstructed and renovated.  We enjoyed several hours of recording and playing on this distinctive instrument with sparkling, dazzling bright sounds–almost like the sounds I imagine shards of glass would produce.  We enjoyed several hours in this place soaking in the sounds of this organ knowing our trip was coming too quickly to an end.  However, we finally were forced to leave by the cold–we were chilled to the bone and my fingers were nearly stiff even in my fingerless gloves.

Upon returning the church and organ keys to Kristen Keller, she invited us in to the warmth of her home and we shared tea and cookies in her lovely kitchen getting to know this engaging woman.  Again, too soon, however, when making a new friend, it was time to head toward our destination–a B&B high in the mountains nearly on the Czech border.

Winding our way to the top of a mountain past ski lodges and hotels, we finally came to our lodging.  However, we were sent by the proprietor half-way down the mountain to a different hotel.  Evidently he had rented our room to someone else or had decided to close for the day–we couldn’t actually discern the reason–but he had made arrangements for us to stay at a very nice place.  So, all was well.

We enjoyed a dinner of goulash and potato dumplings that evening in the hotel restaurant.  Retiring to our room, we were glad to have a warm welcoming place to stay on a cold-nearly snowy night in the mountains of central Germany.  Another truly marvelous day!

(Recording of Toccata in d minor by Johann Sebastian Bach on the 1755 Silbermann of the Dresden Hofkirche;  recording of Christians Rejoice on the 1751 Silbermann of the Dorfkirche of Reinhardtsgrimma are included on my CD, The Organ Music of Bach and Sons available at Promotion Music.)

Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

Four More Churches–Four More Unique Pipe Organs

Our trip from Wittenberg to Dresden was filled with beautiful churches, interesting organs, and great people.  We left Wittenberg and our new friends, Schlosskirche Kantors and Organists, Sarah and Thomas Herzer, early in the morning with plans to arrive in Brandis by 9 a.m. to play the historic Donati organ of 1705 in the Stadtkirche there.

Arriving in the quaint town of Brandis we quickly located the church, met the pastor and were introduced to the Kantor.  He proudly showed us this historic organ and left us to enjoy the gorgeous sounds of this lovely instrument which had had only minimal restoration over the past centuries.  We played and recorded for several hours and after getting thoroughly chilled we headed for the KA and made our way to Rotha once again.
In Rotha, the pastor unlocked the massive doors to St. Georgenkirche and led us to the organ loft.  Unlocking the organ doors, he left us to enjoy, play and record the second gorgeous instrument of the day, a Silbermann from 1741.  (This instrument is the first of two organs Silbermann built in the village of Rotha.  We played his smaller one-manual instrument of 1742 at St. Marienkirche earlier in our trip.)  Perfect for the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach, this organ had the now familiar singing principals, chiffy flutes, and a sound so lovely it was difficult to leave St. Georgen to continue the journey.

Continue we did, though, traveling through village after village of red-roofed timbered homes we arrived in Zwickau to meet Henk Galenkamp, Kantor and Organist of the Zwickau Cathedral (Dom).

The Dom was in stark contract to the plain, simply furnished Protestant churches in Brandis and Rotha.   The opulence and grandness of the Dom was breathtaking.  Kantor Galenkamp was a marvelous host and guide.  We spent the afternoon with him first exploring the organ of the Dom–a large four manual modern instrument of  the 1960’s built by the Jehmlich firm.  The organ was being renovated so was not fully playable, but I was able to use about half of this grand instrument and with Henk as registrant enjoyed playing my bigger repertoire for an hour.  David recorded and had a marvelous time photographing the stunning details of the cathedral.

Henk continued as our tour guide taking us to an early 20th century church built in the art deco style.  The Sauer organ case, also in the art deco style, perfectly fit the space.  The organ built in the 1920s had a lush romantic sound reminiscent of the Sauer organ in the Berlin Cathedral.

Leaving Zwickau, we made our way to Glauchau.  With Henk at the wheel, villages zipped by as we wound our way to the St. Georgenkirche.  However, before we visited yet another church, Henk took us to a Bakerei for coffee and a pastry.  I had a pastry puff mounded high with whipped cream.  Nothing like those German pastries!  We enjoyed a wonderful hour getting to know Henk and hearing of his work as a Kantor at the Dom and a concert organist.

We made our way back to St. Georgen where we met the Kantormusikdirecktor, Guido Schmiedel who presides over a newly restored Silbermann of 1730.  Guido and Henk served as my registrants as I played my way through an hour of my varied Johann Sebastian Bach repertoire. Glorious sounds,, simply beautiful casework, an amazing organ in a great space.   Needless to say, we recorded another hour’s worth of Bach on a perfect instrument.  All too soon, however, the evening had arrived and our hosts had rehearsals to conduct.

Henk drove us back to Zwickau where we bid adieu to another new friend.  Finding a quiet restaurant on the city square (in view of the Robert Schumann statue and the perfectly restored city hall) we enjoyed a true German dinner before traveling on to our B&B in Dresden.
Arriving well after dark in Dresden, we found our lodging and fell into bed in a sleek contemporary styled room in this new B&B.  Ah…..finally….a good bed!

Recording of JS Bach’s From Heaven Above made on the 1705 Donati organ in Brandis;  recording of JS Bach’s Sleepers Wake made on the 1741 Silbermann at St. Georgen in Rotha;  recording of Concerto in a minor and the St. Anne Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach made on the 1960 Jehmlich at the Zwickau Dom;  recording of the Fantasia in G by JS Bach made on the 1755 Silbermann at St. Georgen in Glauchau are included on my CD, The Organ Music of Bach and Sons available at Pro-Motion Music. All pieces played by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.

OrgelPunkt3 at the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, Germany

Taking our ring of keys with us, we left our lodging at the seminary to walk to the Schlosskirche for an early morning rehearsal.  Using those keys, we unlocked the heavy doors of this 500 year old church, climbed the spiral stairs to the balcony, sat down on the organ bench and played the mighty organ for several hours in total quiet.  Too soon, however, the church was opened to the public for tours and our personal time in this historic space came to an end.  At that time, we became regular tourists and took time to enjoy and photograph the space we had been making music in during the past dozen hours.

At three in the afternoon, I played the OrgelPunkt3 concert for an appreciative audience on the Ladegast organ at the historic Schlosskirche in Wittenberg (Lutherstadt) Germany.  An unforgettable afternoon!

We ended our memorable day in Sarah and Thomas Herzer’s apartment at Luther Seminary.  It was an enjoyable evening spent with two talented, dedicated church musicians.

(I recorded three pieces for our “Bach and Sons” CD in this magnificent church:  Pedal Exercitium by JS Bach, Chorale Prelude on “Jesus, My Great Treasure” by WF Bach and Sonata in g minor by CPE Bach.  The Bach and Sons CD is available at Pro-Motion Music. Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist)

The Oldest Playable Organ in Germany

We left Berlin at an early hour to drive West to the medieval walled fortress village of Tangermünde, Germany.  Our destination was St. Stephanskirche to play the oldest playable organ in Germany–a Scherer organ built in 1621.

As we drove through the countryside on narrow roads with trees literally hugging the pavement, we enjoyed the fall colors and the sights of Anhalt-Saxony.  Several miles from Tangermünde, we saw a tower in the distance which seemed to be located on a hilltop in this flat landscape.  As we soon discovered this was the red brick tower of St. Stephanskirche–not located on a hilltop, but simply tremendously high in proportion to any other building for miles.  Quite a remarkable sight!

With our arrival in this charming medieval castle village, we located the home of Christoph Lehmann, the Kantor of the Stephanskirche.    Kantor Lehman warmly welcomed us to Tangermunde and led us to the church for a brief tour of this marvelous edifice built in 1377.

The organ, however, was the focus of our visit, so we soon climbed the stairs to the organ loft high above the nave to play this historic instrument.  The organ was built by Hans Scherer the Younger in 1621 and was restored and reconstructed in 1994 by the Schuke firm with Christoph Lehmann, the consultant on the project.

The organ is a three-manual and pedal instrument with 8 stops on each division with a short octave on each division.  It is in meantone temperament and is tuned at A=460.  The sound is absolutely stunning–and is unlike any other organ I have ever played.

The mechanism to pump the bellows is still operable if one wants to employ several pumpers to wind this large organ.  On this day, however, we did use electricity to power the motor to supply the wind.  Thankfully, there was also electricity for a bit of light in this dark medieval space and for a heat pad to warm an otherwise very cold bench.  It felt as if winter was on its way in this cold church.  Thank heavens for those fingerless gloves we purchased the first night we were in Leipzig!

I enjoyed playing for several hours–reveling in those glorious sounds.  All too soon it was time to leave this extraordinary instrument and our host, Christoph Lehmann for another church and another organ in “Bach’s Germany.”

(I recorded JS Bach’s earliest autograph, his chorale prelude on “From Heaven Above” on the 1621 Scherer organ for our CD, “Bach and Sons.”  Available at Pro-Motion Music.)

Visit Pro-Motion Music for more photos of the Scherer organ and of our Germany Recording Tour.  Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.

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