Matthias Rascher

Youtube’s character as a (in theory at least) worldwide forum, where one may catch sight or hear of interesting people worlds away whom one otherwise would never have come across at all, is a topic that deserves careful attention in its own right. For my part, I don’t doubt that it provides a very worthy service in this respect; how else would I have become aware of a wonderful organist in Bavaria, Matthias Rascher, who’s not a professional musician but rather a very gifted amateur? (For the curious: he’s an English teacher at a gymnasium near the town of Knetzgau where he lives, as his Facebook page states, as well as an author at the Internet periodical Open Culture, and the compiler of a Twitter feed that’s one of the very few that actually are interesting.)

His repertoire, as represented by the videos he’s uploaded, is wide-ranging indeed, both in terms of time, beginning with baroque compositions and going pretty much to the present day, and of geography, with Italian, French, English, and American composers featured along with German ones – and of music history, as several of the composers he favors devoted themselves mainly or exclusively to writing for the instrument and thus aren’t well-known outside the realm of that specialty. So it’s all the more exciting to make their acquaintance as well, through the good offices of this splendid interpreter!

Rascher seems incapable of playing poorly – and skilled quadridexterity is always fascinating to observe in action. And in some pieces in his repertoire, in particular Richard Elliott’s arrangement of “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” he does have to work the pedals.

His rendition of that devastating piece of music, “Gymnopédie” (no. 1), is stunning, and “Take Five” sounds as though it were written just for him! Also of particular note is his performance of Giovanni Dettori’s “Lady Gaga Fugue” on the organ in the church in Maria Limbach.