The I International Organ Festival
The 5th Anniversary of the Concert Hall
11 – 15 September 2013, Concert Hall
The Mariinsky Theatre is presenting its 1st Organ Festival. Each of the seven participating musicians, internationally acclaimed for their individual organ repertoires spanning several centuries, have preferences of their own, all furthering their unique performing abilities: in her art, Helga Schauerte-Maubouet combines the traditions of France and Germany; Austrian conductor and organist Michael Haselböck has recorded all of Franz Liszt’s works for organ; Jennifer Bate is acclaimed as a subtle connoisseur of Olivier Messiaen’s organ music; in the UK, John Scott Whiteley performs the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach; the French organist Thierry Escaich is known for his improvisations; and the Polish organist and improviser Tomasz Adam Nowak specialises in Max Reger and contemporary organ music.
The festival opens on 11 September with Rodion Shchedrin’s Musical Offering, composed in 1983 on the eve of the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. Immediately following the first performance of Musical Offering there was a heated debate concerning the length of the score (two hours and twenty minutes) and its unusual orchestration with organ, three flutes, three trombones and three bassoons. The composer stated that it was a discussion, measured and serious, with undisguised revelations, emotional flashes and instances of reflection: “I believe that in the haste of life this is incredibly important. To stop, to take time and think.”
The “protagonist” of the festival is, of course, the “king of instruments” itself. The organ at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre is not just one of the newest instruments in St Petersburg (it was installed in 2009), it is also the first organ of its kind in the city, unique, an organ with strong abilities as a concert instrument. It has already made a name for itself as an instrument in terms of its unique construction, sound and the abilities it affords. The organ was constructed by Daniel Kern Manufacture d’Orgues (Strasbourg), founded in 1953 by Daniel Kern’s father Alfred Kern with the direct involvement and support of Dr Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Prize recipient. Daniel Kern Manufacture d’Orgues’ particular skill lies in their ability to combine the experience of the French and German organ construction traditions that go back many centuries. The organ at the Concert Hall is the first French-built instrument to be installed in Russia in over a century, unlike German organs in terms of its particular construction and the special quality of its sound, facilitating dazzling performances of German as well as French organ music in Russia.