From “De Orgelvriend“ (NL), 1/2023
To get straight to the point: This CD by the German organist Angela Metzger is a hit in every respect. A sophisticated programme in which old and new music touch each other in all kinds of ways, sublimely performed on a fine organ in a good-sounding room.
Besides a number of ‘classics’ from early music, Angela Metzger has chosen three contemporary compositions that each in their own way hark back to examples from the past, and which are eminently suitable for old or new organs built according to historical models.
Franz Danksagmüller (*1969) – who, like Buxtehude, works in Lübeck – was inspired for the title piece Circuli by the triptych The Garden of Delights by ‘our’ Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516). On the right panel, Bosch depicted the so-called ‘musicians’ hell’, a place where broken or distorted musical instruments serve merely to torture the ears. Danksagmüller gives that surreal image sound technical form by not allowing any stop to be pulled out completely. Because the organist has a certain freedom in this, he or she becomes a kind of sound designer.
The title Circuli refers to Bosch’s belief in cyclical rebirth: a soul trapped in earthly life is reborn just as many times until it is fully liberated spiritually.
Metzger’s choice to programme Bach’s magisterial Vater unser after this is a golden touch – it takes us from hell to heaven.
Bernard Foccroulle (*1953) wrote his colourful Toccata in 2001 for the inauguration of the Freytag/Tricoteaux organ in Béthune, France, an instrument based on the North German Baroque style. The work variously refers to Buxtehude and his ‘stylus phantasticus’, but is written in a contemporary tonal language. The third contemporary piece is by Daniel Glaus (*1957). The Swiss organist-composer himself translates the title Toccatacet as “touching in silence” or “touched by silence”. The seven short versets, dating from 1986, therefore consist largely of moments of silence. The player is free to choose his or her own tempo, depending on the performance space. Captivating music!
Angela Metzger feels audibly at home in this contemporary repertoire, but she also plays works by Buxtehude, Bach and Scheidt very convincingly. The new organ, based on historical principles, built by Orgelmakerij Reil in 2009 for the Stadtpfarrkirche St. Nikolaus in Rosenheim (Bavaria), which is splendid in all its austerity, has everything for the music sounding on this CD.
The readable booklet is illuminated with creations by German artist Susanne Immer, including an explanation of the relationship between these artworks and the musical programme.
A trailer can be found on Angela Metzger’s YouTube channel, plus a video in which the organist explains this commendable release.
Joost van Beek