A solo recording by Converse music professor Dr. Leon Couch III has been released by the Pro Organo label. Entitled “Hamburger Rhetorik,” the CD is a celebration of Dietrich Buxtehude’s music and legacy, and features vivid music and musical settings of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Bach, Buxtehude, and Mendelssohn. Organ settings of the “Vater unser” chorale melody by four Baroque composers and the German romantic Felix Mendelssohn are also included. In addition to the CD itself, the CD package contains an extensive 24-page booklet authored by Couch that features an in-depth narrative of each piece.
The recording, which was initiated in 2004, was made using the Noack tracker organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas.
“At first, the title was one full of humor, as it is funny sounding in English. In German, it (simply) means ” Rhetoric from Hamburg,” explained Couch, Assistant Professor of Organ and Music Theory at Converse. “The selections alternate between dramatic ‘free’ works and works based on Martin Luther’s hymn ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ This alternation mimics a theory that is often applied to Buxtehude’s organ works. With the free works, I ultimately tried to show a diverse set of affections (emotional states) that this music can convey. Most are fairly popular works amongst organists interested in Baroque music.
With chorale-based works (those on the hymn tune), each setting is by a different composer in a pseudo-lineage just before Buxtehude through others to Bach and eventually to Mendelssohn. This shows a great diversity of ways composers set the tune. The diverse selects show the influence and style of 17th-century Hamburg and hopefully engages the professional as well as the lay person.”
In discussing the scholarly booklet, Couch said that it is representative of his work in the college setting. “It directly demonstrates the connection between the music-theory and the music performance that I do, both in the music itself and in the extended program notes explicating the performances…In performance, this is nearly the equivalent of publishing a book.”
In choosing to record with the “Bach organ” at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, Couch said that it “has an absolutely beautiful, lively tone in a wonderful acoustical setting. It is a joy to hear. During the recording sessions