The Kantor of Stiftskirche Stuttgart, Kay Johannsen, has marshaled his classical background, appreciation of Christmas music throughout the world, and impish creativity to concoct a treat for the international audience to enjoy all year long. He has selected hymns, songs, themes, and melodies familiar to the world and concocted a "sugar plum" to delight an appreciative audience.
This recital has no written music for the treatment of musical Christmas songs from Europe and South America, because the lovely melodies are embellished, developed, explored, tantalized, and projected under the musicianship and artistry of a master organist. Mr. Johannsen has to his performance credit not only the entire organ works of J.S. Bach, but a previous CD of sacred Advent music, among many CD recordings. His scholarship and performance have established a reputation of much admiration throughout the world. It is with wonder that we become part of the audience, realizing that many generations have enjoyed music from the Mühleisen organ for over 600 years.
Mr. Johannsen knows the instrument at Stiftskirche well, and displays its lovely flutes, mellow reeds, and lively partials in appealing exposition of these melodies. The accompanying booklet describes the pieces providing welcome background, and the organ specifications and registrations are included for special interest.
The selections on the CD are melodies heard in Europe and America, including folk songs and familiar carols, as well as several less familiar--all are beautiful. The French carols bespeak the stereotypical feeling of darling little tunes, and the songs from Spain and South America sound typically Hispanic. Perhaps the most intricate are the pieces from Germany. From one gem to the next, Mr. Johannsen holds the listener's attention with his cleverness and inventiveness.
Whether the listener studies organ or another instrument, or is merely interested in fine music, this CD will be an excellent addition to a collection of enjoyable music.