Johann Caspar Kerll

February 16, 2012


Released on Tall Poppies (TP121, 2000)

The late seventeenth-century composer Johann Caspar Kerll (1627–1693) wrote numerous organ works, some of which are recorded here for the first time by John O’Donnell. Kerll was born in Adorn where his father was a church organist, and worked in Vienna before being appointed to the palace of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels. He was Kapellmeister in the Munich court of the Elector Ferdinand Maria from 1656, and later organist to the Emperor in Vienna.

1. Eight Toccatas
2. Six Canzonas
3. Four Harpsichord Suites
4. Capriccio sopra il Cucu
5. Battaglia
6. Ciaccona
7. Passacaglia
8. Ricercata
9. Modulatio Organica


John O’Donnell has used his own edition of this music for this welcome addition to Kerll’s sparse discography.… His harpsichord playing, confident but more muted that we generally expect for seventeenth-century German harpsichord music today, emphasises the music’s dignity and grace. The rest of the works are played on the wonderful 1731 Egedacher organ of Stift Zwettl, whose choice O’Donnell explains was dictated by its ell-tempered tuning. It is a stunningly beautiful instrument, brighter (and more crisply recorded) than the meantone-tuned 1642 Freundt organ at Klosterneuberg used by Haselböck … His playing of even the showier works is more thoughtful than that of his Austrian colleague. This makes his performance of the Modulatio organica (a massive and serious contrapuntal investigation of the Magificat tones) particularly satisfying. The plainsong versets are sung attractively by O’Donnell’s Ensemble Gombert – although the voices. recorded in Melbourne eight months after the organ music, sound a little too close in relation to the organ.
Christopher Price
International Record Review, November 2000.

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