Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dennis Schmidt performs

My interview with Dennis Schmidt has been posted. The link is at right, titled "Bach by Popular demand." (Clever, eh? Remember, you're dealing with a small-town newspaper here.) The online article includes a video of Dr. Schmidt performing the first 38, self-contained, measures of Bach's E-Flat Prelude, "St. Anne," BWV 552. The organ is located at Grace Lutheran Church, Wyndmoor, PA, where Dr. Schmidt will perform an all-Bach program Oct. 31, which is both Halloween and Reformation Day. (Take your choice of celebrations. I generally go with Halloween, which is also my birthday.) As I said in an earlier post, Dr. Schmidt is offering to play and of the organ works of JS Bach for a fee. Prices are predetermined, from the chorale prelude at $10 each to trio sonata and other more elaborate works priced at $75.

The only drawback I see to this approach is that Bach wrote so much music for the organ — 243 individual pieces — that potential patrons like me with an extra ten dollars to spend might not know what to ask for other than a few favorite works. I know little of Bach's organ music well, and if everyone else is at or above my level of ignorance, there's a good chance we'll end up with a program of greatest hits, rather than hearing anything new, though "new" may be an odd word to apply to music nearly 300 years old. So far, two works hae been purchased, Dr. Schmidt said: The Trio Sonata in E flat, BWV 525 (a favorite of mine), and the Concerto in G BWV 592, an arrangement of a concerto by Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimer, which I don't know at all. So there's at least one thing new to me. (And I hear that in his day, the duke was considered a real mf.)

If anyone reading this is within driving distance of Wyndmoor, I hope to see you there. Grace is lucky to have Dr. Schmidt as its "music minister," his is official title. He is, after all, the former director of the Philadelphia Bach festival, and the church is the only place where he perfroms at all anymore. He does not concertize. He does not arrange performances. During the week, he fulfills orders at JW Pepper in Paoli, and on Sundays he plays a two-manual organ in a Philadelphia suburb.

Current listening: Mozart Rondo in a, K., 511, Rubinstein; Elliott Carter, Four Lauds for violin, Jennifer Koh.

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