The Grand Organ of Temple Church
Mendelssohn: Organ Sonata No. 1 in F minor; Reubke: Sonata on the 94th Psalm; Karg-Elert: Symphonic Chorale ‘Jesu, meine Freude’; Reger: Chorale Fantasia, Op. 52 – No. 3
Roger Sayer (organ)
Orchid Classics ORC 100090 74:15 mins
For his debut disc on the organ of Temple Church, Roger Sayer scaled the complete sonatas of Rheinberger. He stays firmly in Romantic territory for this sequel which climaxes with the Reubke Sonata on the 94th Psalm – an extended salute to Liszt’s mighty Fantasia on ‘Ad nos ad salutarem undam’. It’s approached via two substantial quasi-symphonic chorale meditations and, to open, the chorale-enriched First Sonata of the set Mendelssohn published in 1839. Cast in F minor (with an effervescent F major Finale), it’s an illuminating bridge into what follows, looking back to Bach but forward to the grandiloquent punctuation favoured for dramatic effect by Reubke.
Sayer’s is a clearly envisioned reading whose alert articulation helps to referee any detail-obscuring rivalry between the Harrison & Harrison instrument at full tilt and the vibrant acoustic. Incisive gestures and broad sweep characterise his approach to the Karg-Elert (whose pleading central ‘Canzone’ is plangently moulded), and the exuberant fireworks of Reger’s Chorale Fantasia are navigated with easy bravado. But it’s the Reubke that most completely holds the ear. Its multi-sectional three-movement template is cogently interrogated from the furrowed-brow fretfulness of the opening to the fugal finale where flamboyant counterpoint and unbridled virtuosity are instinct with flairful fervour.