August Gottfried Ritter (1811-1885) is no household name, but to organists he one of the most significant figures in the history of their instrument; while his three-volume method of playing Kunst des Orgelspiels becoming a source of reference in Germany and elsewhere, his Geschichte des Orgelspiels compendium established his renown through bringing to light composers from the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, some of whom had already been forgotten by the time it was published in 1884. Today he is regarded as the founder of the modern German organ school.
Placing a selection of rare works alongside his more famous organ music, this collection forms a unique tribute to the German composer’s genius. The four Organ Sonatas are first to be presented, pieces which are all cyclical in nature, with Op.23 forming his largest composition for organ, a work of vast proportions that was dedicated to Liszt and which includes Ritter’s debut use of organ toccata form. The second theme of Op.11 recalls the Adagio from the Toccata BWV564, a possible tribute to Bach whose music Ritter studied from an early age, and this baroque influence is expanded on in the second disc, in which the Toccata in D minor’s use of the stylus phantasticus, the Fugue in C minor’s treatment of J.S. Bach’s Fugue BWV546 and the Fugue in B ‘after Handel’ are just a few examples of the predilection for all things past that penetrated the Romantic period.
The Sandri organ of the Santuario Maria Ausiliatrice in Aprica, Italy, was the instrument of choice for this recording, played with poise and authority by the Italian organist Massimo Gabba, a specialist of the Romantic repertoire. Having recorded several CDs for leading labels such as Tactus, Elegia and Brilliant Classics, Gabba’s performances have been widely acclaimed in the Italian and international press (Diapason, Organ Yearbook, Ars Organi etc.). He is currently Professor of Organ and Composition at the ‘G. Tartini’ Conservatory in Trieste.
- Recorded September 2013, for the first time on CD: the complete organ works by Ritter!
- August Gottfried Ritter lived from 1811-1885, a near contemporary of Liszt (1811-1886), and that is not the only connection: Ritter was one of the most significant organ composers of 19-th century Germany, and like Liszt in his organ works, was inspired by the great contrapuntists Bach and Handel. Some of his works are of substantial proportions, written in a 19-th century pendant of the “Stylus Phantasticus”, full of imagination and theatrical musical gestures.
- Organist Massimo Gabba chose for this recording the magnificent Sandri instrument of the Santuaria Maria Ausiliatrice in Aprica, Italy.
- Gabba earlier recorded a superb “Romantic Handel Transcriptions” for Brilliant Classics (BC 94709), and is considered one of Italy’s leading organists.
- The booklet contains full specifications of the organ, liner notes and artist biography.