Kuhnau: Complete Organ Music

Composer Johann Kuhnau
Artist Stefano Molardi organ
Format 3 CD
Cat. number 95089
EAN code 5028421950891
Release June 2015

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About this release

Stefano Molardi’s recorded integrale of Bach’s organ music on Brilliant Classics won golden opinions from the specialist pres. As in the four volumes of that cycle, Molardi has taken care to choose instruments to match repertoire, playing two magnificent instruments by Gottfried Silbermann (Bach’s favoured organ-builder) to record the complete organ music – the first such album to do so – by Johann Kuhnau.

Kuhnau thrived as a church musician in Germany a generation or so before J.S. Bach. He was appointed cantor of the Thomaskirche in 1701, on the death of Johann Schelle, the previous incumbent. When Kuhnau died in 1722, it was J.S. Bach who took over his position after a protracted selection process. Kuhnau played a pivotal role in the evolution of music in central Germany. This was partly due to the beauty and refinement of his melodies, the neatness of his harmony, his skilful use of dissonance and the Corelli-like elegance of his compositions.

However the lasting quality of Kuhnau’s music also derives from his ability to infuse his music with the fruits of his considerable learning in theology and rhetoric. This is particularly evident in the Sonate Bibliche, which narrate scenes from the Old Testament - David slaying Goliath and Gideon's victory evidently lend themselves to dramatic presentation, but there are more potentially intricate and abstract stories too: Jacob and Esau, Hezekiah's prayer among them. Published in 1700, the Sonate Bibliche were the culmination of Kuhnau’s output as a composer, achieving considerable commercial success, and they deserve a wider public now.

Then there are seven sonatas of more conventional dimensions and character. These were published separately from the Sonata in B flat, a work of considerably greater scope and invention. As Kuhnau himself noted on the manuscript, this is perhaps the first time that the genre description was applied to a solo keyboard work. Finally, there are the preludes and fugues in Kuhnau’s two volumes (1689 and 1692) of Neuer Clavier Übung, which at points throw light on Bach’s own appropriation of the genre.

This 3CD set presents the first complete recording of the organ works by Kuhnau! Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) held several important posts in Germany, before settling in Leipzig, where he was for many years Cantor of the Thomaskirche, till his death in 1722, when Bach (a personal friend of his) took over.
Kuhnau’s music is highly innovative: refined and beautiful melodies, skilful use of dissonances and a Corelli-like elegance. He introduced Monteverdi’s “affetti” in his organ works, creating the first instrumental “programme music”. His “Biblical Sonatas” are based on Old Testament scenes, depicted in expressive and telling phrases and instrumental effects.
Stefano Molardi is one of the foremost Italian organists, specialised in Baroque music. His many recordings (among which a highly praised complete Bach cycle on Brilliant Classics) have won great acclaim in the international press.
Played on a magnificent historic 1714 Silbermann Organ of the Freiberg Dom, the complete specifications of which are included in the extensive booklet.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Boasting of Goliath
  2. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Trembling of the Israelites at the Appearance of the Giant, and Their Prayer to God
  3. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Courage of David, and His Keen Desire to Repel the Pride of His Terrifying Enemy with the Confidence that He Puts in the Help of God
  4. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Combat Between the Two and Their Struggle
  5. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Stone Is Thrown from the Slingshot - Goliath Falls
  6. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Flight of the Philistines, Who Are Pursued and Slain by the Israelites
  7. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Joy of the Israelites Over Their Victory
  8. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The Musical Concert of the Women in Honor of David
  9. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. I.: The Combat Between David and Goliath in C Major. The General Rejoicing, and the Dances of Joy of the People
  10. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. II.: The Melancholy of Saul Assuaged by David’s Music. The Sadness and the Rage of the King
  11. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. II.: The Melancholy of Saul Assuaged by David’s Music. The Restorative Song of David’s Harp
  12. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. II.: The Melancholy of Saul Assuaged by David’s Music. The Calm and Contented Soul of Saul
  13. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Joy of the Family of Laban at the Arrival of Their Kinsman, Jacob
  14. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Servitude of Jacob Is Indeed Laborious, but It Is Lightened by His Love for Rache
  15. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Bridal Song Sung by the Companions of Rachel
  16. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Rejoicing for the Wedding, and the Congratulations
  17. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Laban’s Trick
  18. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. The Bridegroom Loving and Content - His Heart Fortells Him Some Ill - He Takes Heart Again - He Becomes Sleepy
  19. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: Jacob’s Wedding. Disappointment of Jacob for the Trick
  20. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. III.: The Rejoicing for the Wedding Is Repeated
  21. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. IV.: Hezekiah Dying and Restored to Health. Hezekiah’s Lament for the Death Foretold to Him and His Fervent Prayers
  22. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. IV.: Hezekiah Dying and Restored to Health. His Confidence in God
  23. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. IV.: Hezekiah Dying and Restored to Health. The Joy of the Convalescent King - He Remembers the Ills That Are Past - He Forgets Them
  24. Ciacona in F Minor
  25. Prelude in A Minor

Disk 2

  1. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. Gideon’s Doubt Concerning the Victory Promised Him by God - He Tests It in a Contrary Manner
  2. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. His Fear, Seeing a Great Army of Enemies Come Upon Him
  3. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. He Takes Heart Again, Hearing What They Had Dreamed of Him Being Expounded To His Enemies
  4. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. Gideon Encourages His Soldiers
  5. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. The Sound of Trumpets, or Trombones and the Breaking of the Pitchers, and the Cries of the Fighters
  6. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. The Flight of Their Enemies, Pursued by the Israelites
  7. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. V.: Gideon the Saviour of the People of Israel. Their Joy in the Notable Victory
  8. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. VI.: The Tomb of Jacob. The Sorrow of the Sons of Jacob at the Bed of Their Dying Father, Somewhat Sweetened by his Fatherly Benediction
  9. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. VI.: The Tomb of Jacob. They Consider the Consequences of This Death
  10. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. VI.: The Tomb of Jacob. The Journey from Egypt to the Land of Canaan
  11. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. VI.: The Tomb of Jacob. The Burial of Israel, and the Sorrowful Lament of Those Present
  12. Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien, Sonata No. VI.: The Tomb of Jacob. The Souls of the Survivors Are Consoled
  13. Prelude in B-Flat Major
  14. Prelude in G Minor
  15. Fugue in G Minor
  16. Prelude in D Major
  17. Prelude alla breve in G Major
  18. Prelude in C Major
  19. Prelude in C Minor
  20. Prelude in D Minor
  21. Prelude in E Minor
  22. Sonata in B-Flat Major: I. —
  23. Sonata in B-Flat Major: II. —
  24. Sonata in B-Flat Major: III. Adagio
  25. Sonata in B-Flat Major: IV. Allegro
  26. Sonata in B-Flat Major: V. Da Capo
  27. Fuga in C Major
  28. Toccata in A Major

Disk 3

  1. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sontata I. in G Minor: —
  2. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sontata I. in G Minor: Adagio
  3. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sontata I. in G Minor: Allegro
  4. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sontata I. in G Minor: — (2)
  5. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata II. in D Major: —
  6. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata II. in D Major: Molto Adagio – molto presto – adagio – presto – adagio
  7. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata II. in D Major: — (2)
  8. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata II. in D Major: Adagio
  9. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata II. in D Major: — (3)
  10. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata III. in F Major: —
  11. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata III. in F Major: Aria
  12. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata III. in F Major: —
  13. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata III. in F Major: Aria (2)
  14. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata III. in F Major: — (2)
  15. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata IV. in C Minor: Vivace
  16. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata IV. in C Minor: Adagio
  17. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata IV. in C Minor: —
  18. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata IV. in C Minor: — (2)
  19. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata V. in E Minor: —
  20. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata V. in E Minor: — (2)
  21. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata V. in E Minor: — (3)
  22. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata V. in E Minor: — (4)
  23. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VI.: Ciaccona
  24. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VI: —
  25. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VI: Vivace
  26. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VI: — (2)
  27. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VI: Ciaccona da capo
  28. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VII.: —
  29. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VII.: Adagio
  30. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VII.: — (2)
  31. Frische Clavier-Früchte, Sonata VII.: — (3)