Gregor Simon

Gregor Simon Gregor Simon
J.S. Bach, Couperin, Franck, Widor, Reger, Simon


1. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Präludium anhören und
2. Fuge e-Moll, BWV 548 anhören
Weingarten, Basilika St. Peter: Gabler-Orgel
Aufnahme: 17. Mai 2008

3. César Franck (1822-1890)
Pièce héroïque
Riedlingen, St. Georg: Späth-Orgel
Aufnahme: 26. Mai 2007

4. Gregor Simon (*1969)
Toccata "Exodus"
Laupheim, Marienkirche: Rensch-Orgel
Aufnahme: 26. Mai 2008

5. Francois Couperin (1668-1733)
Messe solemnelle: "Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe", Tierce en taille anhören
"Der du trägst die Sünde der Welt, erhöre unser Gebet"
6. Gregor Simon
Phantasie über den Geregorianischen Choral
zu Ps. 60,4: "Commovisti Domine"
"Erschüttert hast du das Land und gespalten.
Heile seine Risse!"
Dresden, Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis: Silbermann-Orgel
Aufnahme: 21. Februar 2008

7. Gregor Simon
Improvisation anhören
Choralphantasie "Komm du Heiland aller Welt"
Ulm, St. Georg: Walcker-Orgel
Aufnahme: 21. April 2008

8. Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
Adagio (2. Satz) aus der 6. Orgelsymphonie
9. Max Reger (1873-1916)
Choralphantasie op. 52,3 anhören
"Halleluja! Gott zu loben bleibe meine Seelenfreud!"
Laupheim, Marienkirche: Rensch-Orgel
Aufnahme: 3. Februar 2003

About the works

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the prelude and Fugue e-minor (BWV 548) during his time in Leipzig (after 1723). The prelude is arranged as Concerto grosso with the juxtaposition of "tutti-parts" with a large range and "solo-parts" in three parts with a limited range. The first theme is characterized by a rising sixth-to-octave cadence jump, the formation of syncopations and forefalls. It has a pathetic effect and is reminiscent of the emotion of the passion, like it often appears in distinctive passion music of the Thomaskantor.
The second theme is a continuous double chroche sequence, which is repeated over three beats with only a slight change of single notes. Finally, the third theme is performed in the aforementioned three parts. It is punctured and is sequenced one note lower with every beat.
The theme of the related Fugue spreads from one note chromatically to the jump of the octave. After the exposition it turns into a mix between development and Concerto-grosso-form. There is a "static" theme which is moved from within, spacious fast runs, as well as a calmly-pacing motive in the pedal, later also in the higher parts. After an enormous compression of the elements, the fugueexposition literally returns as a reprise.
The Pièce hérïque by César Franck consists of three themes. The first appears mostly in the bass form. It is impulsive and powerful, which is emphasized by pulsing chord repetitions. One could think of a heroic attack. As an answer or comment to it, the following second theme acts with a similar motive in the top voice. Both themes are written in minor keys. The third theme is oppositional. It is written in a major key and is comprehensive like a choral. It dominates the calm and placid middle part. After the development of all three themes and dramatisation phases, which can be described as "heroic" if you consider the title of the piece, the crowning finale is provided by the third theme, which triumphs in fortissimo.
An ongoing eight-bar harmonic-rhythmical ground bass is the basis for my Toccata "Exodus". Added to this are a jazzy burlesque theme and a intensive choral-like theme. Starting in pianissimo the toccata gets higher step by step. A short, surprising pause at a triple octave "g" (tritone interval to the fundamental tone d-flat of the piece) collects the accumulated energy, which flows towards the climax in an intensified way. This climax is formed by long lasting chords in the tutti with a counterpart coming from the second theme in the pedal. Afterwards the situation winds down bit by bit. The themes become more and more fragmented until the ground bass disappears and becomes inaudible.
Francois Couperin wrote two "organ masses" with 21 movements each. The "Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe" is the 6th couplet from the Gloria of the first mass named "Messe solemnelle a l'usage des Paroisses." It is a "Tierce en taille", which means a very special sound: In the two accompanying high tones of the right hand are basic voices in 16'-, 8'- and 4'-position, at the pedal some in 8'-, but also 16'-position, the left hand finally has the solo voice in tenor position ("taille") with a Cornett register (8', 4', 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5' (=tierce!), 1 1/3'). The voices imitate each other often. In the typical French-baroque manner the movement is rich with ornaments like warbling and ample decorations. Affects of the text like the contemplation (the suffering of Christ) or the praying (to ask for granting) can also be easily perceived in the music.
The improvisation "Commovisti" is formed by sentiences which are caused by the text. Because of its theme about lament on the one hand and the supplication for salvation on the other hand it comes in a two-part form. Starting with a calmness that has a doleful undertone, the inner turmoil comes to light on the outside by and by in the first part. However, the second part is lyrical, with a hint of the requested salvation. The Gregorian choral to the psalm verse "Commovisti" plays a constructive role by being performed sometimes in one and sometimes with another voice, sometimes it is only hinted at and sometimes performed.
The improvisation "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" was inspired by the choral fantasies by Max Reger. Each stanza is performed accordingly to its content. The melody of the first stanza is in soprano, the second in tenor. A certain type of performance follows. A lively movement escalates, characterized by tremolo figures, arpeggios and a pulsing bass. Excerpts of the chorals are interspersed and interweaved. They accumulate gradually, until the third stanza is performed in bass as the climax in tutti, with a counterpoint in the form of toccata chords. A break is provided by a "dance" where the fourth stanza is played in a striking way by a transverse flute in a Phrygian key. The finale of the choral fantasia is a "crescendo-fugue" whose theme is constructed from the choral. In the end it blends with the fifth stanza which is conducted through different voices.
You could call the song-like theme of the Adagio (2nd set) of the 6th organ symphony by Charles-Marie Widor "elegiac". The registration is accordingly atmospheric: "Gambes et voix célestes", which results in a sweeping and floating sound. After a reflecting unisonous line the theme appears surprisingly in a totally differentlight as in the beginning: fortissimo, animated, in minor, the pedal voice very energetic, and finally insisting on one point. A phase of relaxation follows, after which the theme appears, but all the more tranquil. Just the dynamic level shows this development. In contrast to the mezzoforte beginning the ending is performed in piano and pianissimo.
Karl Straube performed Reger's organ work during and beyond Reger’s lifetime. He made Reger’s oeuvre known to a great audience. He wrote: "The Fantasia 'Halleluja! Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud' is, formally speaking, the climax of his (Regers) work in this field". The first stanza is performed in bass, the second in tenor. In the second stanza, the bass has a cascading theme, hinting at the fugacity of worldly power. After some shorter performances of the following stanzas, a grand fugue follows. It rises gradually until the fugue theme blends with the last stanza, which starts in bass and is continued in soprano. With a canonical lead of the first line of the stanza in the other voices, connected with the fugue theme in the middle voices, played with further voices in tutti, it results in a grand climax and finale.

About the selection

The program on this CD came out of the intention, to assemble quintessential works from the countries that are eminent for organ music (France and Germany) and the epochs (Baroque and Romanticism), but also choosing my own compositions and improvisations so that they not only work for themselves but also for "each other" and form their own musical dramaturgy.

Some theological-inspired thoughts

During the development of the program on the present CD not only a musical-dramaturgical but also a theological central theme emerged. This theme could roughly be described as: "Man in front of God and on his way to Him". This becomes obvious with the choral-bound compositions and improvisations related to the texts. But also for the works that aren't related to texts there are possible associations with theological dimensions. In that kind of sense, Bach's prelude and fugue e-minor would be an "overture", which initially tells about the "greatest things": God, creation, providence, love. With Franck's "Pièce héroïque" "man as himself" is expressed. Central themes of romanticism are longing, suffering, utopia. The romantic man is right "here" and wishes himself "over there". While composing the concluding toccata "Exodus" I had a wandering, searching, suffering man in mind - and an "it" which is ignorant against mankind ("fate" instead of "providence").
With Couperin's mass composition the focus is on God: "Der du trägst die Sünde der Welt, erhör unser Gebet." The following improvisation "Commovisti Domine" is situated between lament and salvation: "Erschüttert hast du das Land und gespalten. Heile seine Risse!" The salvation becomes evident with the incarnation of God. That way, the choral fantasy "Komm du Heiland der Welt" fits right in. Salvation and peace are expressed with the following Adagio by Widor.
Finally, the answer of a human being who experienced God's nearness and love follows: a sweeping, yet devout glorification by Reger's choral fantasy "Halleluja! Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud".

The organs

For the different styles and sound range of the recorded works, different organs were selected. The baroque literature was recorded on two world-famous organs:
The Gabler-organ in the basilica of Weingarten and the Silbermann-organ in the cathedral of Dresden. On the later organ, the possibilities of a modern note language is sounded out with the improvisation "Commovisti".
The improvisation "Komm du Heiland aller Welt" is inspired by the romantic way of playing and the sound range of the Walcker-organ in St.Georg, Ulm.
The Späth-organ in Riedlingen, St. Georg is perfectly suited for César Franck's "Pièce héroïque". The Rensch-organ in the Marienkirche in Laupheim with its plasticity was perfectly suited for the rhythmic and distinctive Toccata "Exodus", it allows a clear, yet atmospheric presentation of Widor's Adagio and is also suitable for the distinctive sound and the polyphonic structures of Reger's choral fantasia.

Gregor Simon

Short portrait of the organs

Weingarten, basilica St.Martin: Joseph Gabler, 1737-1750;
1983 renovation by Kuhn; IV/63 (4 Manuals, 63 stops)

Dresden, cathedral Ss. Trinitatis: Gottfried Silbermann, 1750-55;
2002 renovation by Jehmlich and Wegscheider; III/47

Ulm, St. Georg: Oscar Walcker, 1904;
2004 renovation by Kuhn; III/45

Riedlingen, St. Georg: Hartwig Späth, 1997; III/44

Laupheim, Marienkirche: Richard Rensch, 1998; III/30

Gregor Simon

studied church music in Saarbrücken and Munich, as well as music theory in Detmold. He studied organ with Prof. Daniel Roth and Prof. Harald Feller, organ improvisation with Prof. Bernhard Haas and Wolfgang Hörlin. Furthermore, he attended improvisation courses with Prof. Wolfgang Seifen among others.
In 1995 he founded the Laudate Chor Oberschwaben.
After his studies he was cantor of the deanery and church musician in Stuttgart.
Today he is a church musician in Laupheim (near Ulm) and cantor of the deanery of Ochsenhausen. In addition he gives numerous concerts as organist and choirmaster and dedicates his time to composition, mainly church music.
He won several awards for his compositions.
His "Deutsche Messe für Marienfeste"("German Mass for the celebrations of St. Mary") was awarded with the "Slatkonia-award" as the best contribution for 2002. The composition of 30 minutes for choir, organ, congregation and choirmaster premiered in the Stephansdom in Vienna.
In 2003 he won the third prize of the composition contest "Eucharistical Choir Pieces" by the diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart with "Preisungen".
For the renovation of the historical "Stellwagen-organ"" in the church of St. Marien in Stralsund he won the composition contest in 2007.
His "Blues per organo" and "Song for organ" in the series "Jazz Inspirations for Organ" was published by the Bärenreiter Verlag.

Compositions by Gregor Simon (PDF)

Back to the list