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CHAN 10532
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CHAN 10532

Mendelssohn: Complete Organ Sonatas

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2009

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2008


William Whitehead



The Ballroom, Buckingham Palace, London


Andrew Gant


Jonathan Cooper

Record Label



Total Time - 70:43
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Organ Sonata No. 1, Op. 65

  in F minor - in f-Moll - en fa mineur  
1 I Allegro moderato e serioso 5:54
2 II Adagio 2:55
3 III Andante recitando - 3:18
4 IV Allegro assai vivace 3:15

Organ Sonata No. 2, Op. 65

  in C minor - in c-Moll - en ut mineur  
5 I Grave - 1:27
6 II Adagio 2:31
7 III Allegro maestoso e vivace - 2:17
8 IV Fuga. Allegro moderato 3:44

Organ Sonata No. 3, Op. 65

  in A major - in A-Dur - en la majeur  
9 I Con moto maestoso 7:02
10 II Andante tranquillo 2:18

Organ Sonata No. 4, Op. 65

  in B flat major - in B-Dur - en si bémol majeur  
11 I Allegro con brio 3:23
12 II Andante religioso 2:03
13 III Allegretto 3:41
14 IV Allegro maestoso e vivace 4:08

Organ Sonata No. 5, Op. 65

  in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur  
15 I Andante - 1:28
16 II Andante con moto - 2:40
17 III Allegro maestoso 4:28

Organ Sonata No. 6, Op. 65

  in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré majeur  
18 I Chorale - Andante sostenuto - Allegro molto - 8:49
19 II Fuga. Sostenuto e legato 2:32
20 III Finale. Andante 2:50

Felix Mendelssohn, whose centenary we celebrate this year, was the ultimate cosmopolitan composer, but formed a special relationship with Britain, which he visited ten times.

A number of his works were written in response to English commissions, including Elijah, and the Six Sonatas for Organ which have become established repertoire for organists and are some of Mendelssohn’s last compositions.
Mendelssohn was the first composer of international renown after J.S. Bach to return to the organ, and performed publicly on English organs during all his visits, audiences coming in droves to hear him. The sound of the English organ of his day had some distinctive qualities, which have been captured on this recording by William Whitehead, who uses the 1818 Lincoln Organ now situated in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.
It is not known whether Mendelssohn played this particular instrument but we know that he was a warmly welcomed guest of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the Palace on numerous occasions. Recently restored, the organ gives an English perspective on this ebullient music which crosses international boundaries of style.

It is the first time an authentic instrument of this period has been used to record Mendelssohn’s Six Organ Sonatas.

"William Whitehead... offers the rare opportunity to hear the 1818 organ in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace-exactly the kind of instrument that Mendelssohn woulkd have been familiar with on his visits to England." " allows us to hear each element of the music with greater clarity. Try the majestic third movement of Sonata No 2, the best known section of these six masterpieces.            ****

Jeremy Nicholas

Classic FM Magazine - August 2009

“This recording is certainly an interesting project and this well presented CD contains clear notes explaining the process of researching and recording – Whitehead explains his reference to the manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford – as well as some elegantly sensitive playing and bravado from the player.”

Hannah Parry-Ridout

The Organ - November 2009

“…Whitehouse interprets these works with a consistent sense of style that is admirable: he does not try at any time to turn them into precursors of Lisztian outpourings, more suited to the bigger and more powerfully developed organs of the latter half of the century. This is a most recommendable and in its own way important release.”

Robert Matthew-Walker

International Record Review - September 2009

“William Whitehead’s consummate performances on the palace’s restored early 19th-century Henry Lincoln instrument illuminate variety of sonority as much as the manner in which Mendelssohn, while acknowledging the example of Bach and respecting the Protestant tradition, forged music of sumptuous, romantic lustre.”

Geoffrey Norris

The Telegraph - 25 July 2009

             Performance ****           Recording ****

“William Whitehead’s account of Mendelssohn’s complete organ sonatas offers a welcome and fascinating contribution to the composer’s 200th birthday celebrations.” “….his (Whitehead) immaculately articulated playing and musical imagination draws sounds, and an interpretation, which we may confidently imagine to be as authentic as it comes.”

Graeme Kay

BBC Music Magazine - September 2009

“Mendelssohn’s sonatas come up fresh on the Buckingham Palace organ.” “This is noble playing of the highest order” “…. if you want a stimulating performance of the Sonatas I’d plump for Whitehead’s disc every time”.

Malcolm Riley

Gramophone - Awards Issue 2009

S Phillips