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WOLFGANG MITTERER - Stop Playing - Wolfgang Mitterer (Organ) - 9120031340713 - Released: January 2011 - Col legno WWE20296

THE ORGAN IS A MACHINE. These are the words that open the printed text in this recording's booklet notes. A strong statement indeed, but true. Broken down to its basic elements and various individual parts, a pipe organ is nothing more than a sound generating apparatus, and it's in that context that Austrian composer/organist/electroacoustician Wolfgang Mitterer (1958-) approaches this instrument on his new CD "Stop Playing", a title that refers to organ stops rather than cessation of play. A pipe organ is a musical instrument only when a musician performs a musical composition on it, by pressing down on its keys in a pre-determined and logical sequence. Otherwise it is only a mechanical and/or electro-pneumatic machine, that requires human intervention and activation to become a musical instrument. Over the years, many modern composers have tried to emulate the sound of a pipe organ through the use and refinement of computer generated music. With this recording, Mitterer has managed to emulate the sound of a computer through the use and refinement of pipe organ generated music.

Although there is some computer programming and editing involved in this production, all the sounds are organ generated. A respected organist in the traditional sense and an electroacoustic music pioneer, Mitterer has managed to fuse both of these vocations into one. Sound reproductions were recorded on three different Austrian church organs, and then computer manipulated and combined with each other to produce this CD. Controlling wind pressure, blowing in some pipes with the mouth, turning the motor on and off, fast runs on 2' pipes, beats on the organ's wooden case, artificial echo, emptying of the bellows, etc ... are some of the techniques used, combined and computer-manipulated to create the pieces found on this recording. Being an organist myself, I must admit that some of the outcome of these experiments in sound are more fascinating from a creator's point of view, but can also be quite a revealing listening experience as well. In the end, this does expose the organ's 'machine' side, made all the more tangible by the manipulation of computer code.

Many of us listen to pipe organ recordings not only because we admire the music, after all that same music could be played on harpsichord or piano, but also because we love the sounds produced by a pipe organ. This is exactly the premise of this recording. To focus on the instrument's fundamental purpose, the sound of air rushing through a pipe. Col legno have produced a clean, up-close recording that captures well the multi-faceted manipulations of that primordial noise.

Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2011