These are fine performances on an organ almost uniquely suited to the works. It consists of three manuals (Hauptwerk, Positiv, and Echo) with a full Pedal stoplist and is found in the Kloster Weißenau, Ravensburg, Germany. It was built in 1787 by Holzhey, whose work Mendelssohn himself admired. The tone is marvelously fluid, but with a stirring pleno. The tuning is Werckmeister III (1691), which I use myself for all of my harpsichord work, and the contrasting colors of different keys enhance the sonic impression throughout. The pedals (shown in a liner photo) are really buttons, but the unusual shape poses no problems for Jonathan.
One of the problems arising when the xis Sonatas are played end-to-end is the composer’s fairly extensive use of pleno sounds. Jonathan skillfully tempers these so that one hears a variety of “full” registrations, rather than becoming satiated with Full Organ.
Jonathan’s technique is flawless, and his command of the idiom is always evident. In addition to the various pleno combinations, he uses the softer registers of the organ with imagination and taste. The engineering and production by Roger W. Sherman, Erik Sikkema, and Ulrich Höflacher are exemplary. The liner contains essays on the works and on the organ, specifications, a biography, and fine photographs.
Victor Hill, Ph.D.
The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians (Feb. 2010)