Mendelssohn lived 38 brief years, into which he packed more compositions than most would write in a long and distinguished life.
The six organ sonatas came at the very end, dating from 1844-1845. Ironically, by this time, Mendelssohn was probably better known in England, where he frequently conducted and performed his own works, than in his native Germany. But he had now returned to Soden near Frankfurt, and he was to spend the following years in and around Leipzig, where he had returned directed the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
The music is heavily archaic in style, with a great deal of contrapuntal writing, and a long way from the transparent music that we would find in the "Italian Symphony", the treatment of the chorale melodies, the work of a gifted composer.
They do, nevertheless, form one of the cornerstone works in the organ repertoire, and they are magnificently played on this new disc by Stephen Tharp at the Casavant organ of St. Clement's Church in Chicago.
There are very few alternative versions of the complete six sonatas, and only two others generally available around the world on single disc. Add to this the fact that it has no competition at budget price, and this demonstration quality digital recording is obviously a sure winner for organ buffs.
ReviewsTharp allows the music to flow with a splendid naturalness, shaping the more expressive lines with deliciously sensitive rubato - Gramophone