In common with his German predecessors, contemporaries and successors—Beethoven, Spohr, Weber, Schumann, Brahms, Bruch, Reger—Mendelssohn, pianist and organist, master of the majestic and the modest, the supreme Bach revivalist of his generation, married Classicism and Romanticism. Weighing counterpoint and chorale, profundity and piety, the late A major Organ Sonata (completed in Bad Soden near Frankfurt am Main, 17 August 1844, a month before the Violin Concerto) was the third of a set of six, culminating a series of compositions for the instrument begun in Berlin in the 1820s. Central to its design is a four-part fugue in A minor (on a 4/4 subject led by a bold anacrusis head-motif [E-F-D-G sharp] announced in the bass followed by tenor, alto and soprano entries) offset against a pedal line on the 1524 Lutheran chorale Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir
(Psalm 130, ‘Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord’). This fugue is flanked by matching prologue and interlude paragraphs in the major, con moto maestoso, fortissimo, the second tonally milder. Tempo (andante tranquillo), metre (3/4) and atmosphere (piano e dolce) change for the final section, an epilogue/quasi-voluntary flowering from the upbeat. Witnessing Mendelssohn’s life-long interest in the Beethoven idea of continuous ‘sonata’, the whole plays without a break.
from notes by Ates Orga © 2007