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.