Jörg Herchet

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Jörg Herchet: Komposition 1 für Orgel, 8, Seligpreisungen
[composition 1 for organ, No. 8, “The Beatitudes”]
Querstand  VKJK 1233. Dominik Susteck, organ.

The Dresden composer Jörg Herchet came into contact with the organ at an important moment in his life. Herchet studied composition at the Hanns Eisler Music Academy in East Berlin, where in 1969 the school authorities rejected his dissertation as “unworthy of a future Socialist composer.” Fortunately, Herchet was subsequently accepted as a pupil by Paul Dessau in order to continue his compositional studies. At the same time, he began to take organ lessons in Dresden and to work as a registration assistant to Herbert Collum, the organist of the Kreuzkirche [Church of the Holy Cross] in Dresden. The Jehmlich organ in the Kreuzkirche had been built only a few years before, and Herchet was fascinated by the symphonic possibilities offered by a modern universal organ. As a result, in 1973 Herchet began to compose for the organ. His komposition 1 für orgel [composition 1 for organ], completed in 1985, consists of eight pieces and has a duration of more than three hours. Though inspired by the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, the pieces are not direct settings of the Biblical texts, and the composer avoids giving the pieces any specific titles. The eighth piece, by far the longest, brings together various compositional structures from the previous seven.

The multi-functional and technically innovative double organ in St. Peter’s Art Station in Cologne – conceived by Peter Bares and constructed by the Cologne firm Willi Peter – is ideally suited to the realization of the individual structural elements and their corresponding sound colors. Dominik Susteck, who since 2007 has been Peter Bares’s successor at St. Peter’s Art Station, succeeds in making the eighth piece a striking sound painting, which now – in cooperation with DeutschlandRadio – can be heard on CD.

Translation: Richard Rieves and John Patrick Thomas