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Theme Variations: Improvisations Children Song 1

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What springs to most people's minds when they hear the word organ is the electronic instrument widely used in pop music as opposed to the original pipe organ. And as far as the pipe organ's concerned, we are used to hearing pieces by Bach or Reger being played on it and associate it with churches, cathedrals and classical music. Thus, when Franz Lehrndorfer, an internationally renowned performer of both classical and modern musical literature, plays the traditional organ in an unusual fashion here, then he is probably the first musician to show us that the wealth of color this "queen of instruments" has to offer lends itself equally to themes of an entertaining and light-hearted nature common to well-known songs. In comparison to other themes, children's songs by their very nature are short and simple in harmony, and as such less suited to large scale renditions. Hence Lehrndorfer has chosen the classical form of the variation to express the various aspects and moods of a song, whether it be the dance of the peasants and of the be-ba-bootsyman, the flight of the fox from the hunter in pursuit, or the twittering of birds in the wood in Cuckoo. The listener experiences almost in passing exemplary techniques of improvisation and movement, coupled with a timelessly-contemporary harmony appropriate to the songs. The Matchsticks variation is a large-scale rendition. The theme which often just shimmers through in skeletal form is the starting point for moods and atmospheres that are conveyed in rhapsodic fashion. Says Lehrndorfer, "Embarking on new territory in my youth, I discovered a propensity towards inventing new, free variations of well-known songs." For him improvisation means relying on spontaneous inspiration. There are no sketches or set plans for any of his improvisations in concerts or recordings; sometimes a theme once previously heard makes a brief reappearance but it is then developed completely differently. The joy of improvising and being free to explore the range of options was the primary factor leading to this recording's conception. Its charm lies in the immediacy of the experiment and the personal enjoyment of certain uses of register or unexpected turns in the music.

About the Artist

Franz Lehrndorfer was born on August 10, 1928, in Salzburg, Austria, of German parents. He grew up in Kempten, Bavaria, and received his early musical training from his father, a choir conductor and musicologist. After his graduation from the German gymnasium (Abitur), he studied Catholic church music and organ from 1948-1951 at the State Music College in Munich. He graduated in 1952 summa cum laude. He had begun his professional life already during the previous year as an educator with the German boys choir Regensburger Domspatzen. This is when he met his future producer/engineer Ulrich Kraus who was one of the choir's singers at the time. Their friendship and collaboration has thus endured half a century. In 1962 Lehrndorfer joined the faculty of the State Music College in Munich where he became department head of Catholic church music and organ in 1969 until his retirement in 1993. Since 1968 he taught as visiting professor at the Catholic University in Porto, Portugal. Since 1969 he has also been the dome organist at the Munich dome (Frauenkirche). In 1957 Lehrndorfer won first place at the International Music Competition of the ARD (German Radio Network). In recognition of his achievements as artist and educator he has received numerous awards and decorations from both government and religious institutions, among them an honorary doctorate of the Papal College of Music in Rome and the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, a highly prestigious decoration awarded by the German government. Whilst Lehrndorfer has been known for his many song and choir compositions as well as compositions and arrangements for organ, it is his special gift as an improviser which completes his musical profile. Celestial Harmonies has documented his creativity by recording and reissuing all relevant aspects of his repertoire which reaches from Early Music to the 20th century. His musicianship is equally suited to romantic organ music from 19th century France as it is to Bach or improvisations over themes from children's and folk songs.

Theme Variations: Improvisations Children Song 1

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