Three Organ Fugues

Schubert:  Three organ fugues, ed. O. Biba. Doblinger/ Universal


Such is the magic of Vienna that it always seems possible to discover new Schubert sources by taking a closer look at the old fines. Such serendipity was the special gift of the late and much mourned Christa Landon; here are three of her retrievals front the archives of the Wiener Männergesangverein, now duly enshrined in the new Deutsch catalogue as 24 A-c. The editor's textual comments look workman­like and reliable; and the firm link established between the first of these fugues and the Gloria of a fragmentary Mass (new d24 E) is of more than passing interest to students of the lied. The short-breathed and songful fugue subjects suggest a choir­boy whose voice and style alike were undergoing a vital change. One might have expected some serious attempt to date these works; but the sole relevant observation offered is “in all probability, the fugues were composed in 1812”. Again, the argument that their freedom of form and harmony shows their independence of Salieri’s tutelage seems to me not only to misconstrue that relationship hut to defy common sense. Otherwise almost all the foreword is devoted to a rather laborious demonstration that this music is intended for organ, which may well seem self-evident. The editor is confessedly baffled by a “decrescendo wedge” used in a context where that effect is impracticable. But Schubert habitually used exactly such a sign to indicate an accent. In sum, then, the editor is more organist than Schubertian – the precise converse, I should have thought, of most of his prospective purchasers.


The Musical Times, Mar. 1979 (p. 250) © the estate of eric sams