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Thread: Favorite completeBach Organ recordings

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    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Favorite completeBach Organ recordings

    Well this should liven things up.
    What are your favorite complete Bach Organ music recordings?
    Marie Claire Alain, Preston,Herrick,Koopmann, Rubsum,Bernard Foccroulle.. the list could go on?
    I hope it does please, let me know your top 3 and why
    Happy arguing!
    Harry

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    1. Helmut Walcha
    2. Marie-Claire Alain (2nd set)
    =3. Fagius / Koopmann
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    1. Helmut Walcha
    2. Marie Claire Alain
    3. Wolfgang Stockmeier
    4. Ton Coopman.

    I also like many releases from Douglas Hollick and of course Peter Hurford.

    Have fun !
    Panos
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
    F.Kafka, Aphorisms.

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    Captain of Water Music Art Rock's Avatar
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    1. Peter Hurford.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    1. Helmut Walcha
    2. Peter Hurford

    There are some things about Ton Koopman's playing style and registrations that I don't care for.
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  6. #6
    Commodore con Forza
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    Koopman tends to justify Albert Schweitzer's remark that Bach is played "altogether too fast". Do you suppose JSB himself played that fast? I doubt it.

    M-C Alain has done about three different sets of Bach. She says she never listens to her recordings. I think she's missing something. Hurford is good, and Walcha goes back somewhat farther.

    I still have a hard time with the notion that fast tempi equal virtuosity. Put that in a large cathedral with a long reverb time, and what do you have? A cacaphony of noise without hearing the 'voices' of the pieces. Which do you prefer?

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Knud Vad (Danish)
    Hans Fagius (Swedish)
    Helmut Walch (German)

    love all three of them equally for very different reasons.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dll927 View Post
    Koopman tends to justify Albert Schweitzer's remark that Bach is played "altogether too fast". Do you suppose JSB himself played that fast? I doubt it.

    M-C Alain has done about three different sets of Bach. She says she never listens to her recordings. I think she's missing something. Hurford is good, and Walcha goes back somewhat farther.

    I still have a hard time with the notion that fast tempi equal virtuosity. Put that in a large cathedral with a long reverb time, and what do you have? A cacaphony of noise without hearing the 'voices' of the pieces. Which do you prefer?
    Hi dll927 !

    I posted elsewhere here some time back that my teacher taught me that Bach must be played slower, so all the voices can be heard clearly.
    I was raised with this school and with Walcha's performances.

    I love Marie_Claire..... just love her.... can't help it or explain it... he he

    Ton.... he overdone it many times, but, there are some recordings that are just superb. His early TrioSonatas with Archiv, for example are perfect in everything.

    Peter.... one of the best, but lately I got James Kirbe's total works of the grand master and I'm still listen to them (huge work), so far I'm very pleased and enjoy the resoult, but I don't have a final opinion yet about..

    About Bach playin' fast..... our friend Marc here and David if I recall correctly... (Marc where are you??!!) reported that many contemporaries had writen about how fast and perfect he played.

    I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm thinking that if someone then had used to listen to organ music played at about 69bpm and then someone came and played these pieces at 80 to 90, this would apear as fast !
    Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know... You see at the time there aren't tempo markings on manuscripts so we do not know for shure the exact tempo Bach wanted.

    There's another example with Widor. Almost all played his toccata fast and he (the creator) played it slow.....

    So, I'm trying always to understand the inner meaning of the piece in question, how it feels and comes out as the first notes introduce themselves and then I decide the tempo. Playin at "breakin' neck speeds" (Lars' terminology) isn't by default a great virtuosity, sometimes may resemble to a circus performance !

    Have fun anyway !
    Panos
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
    F.Kafka, Aphorisms.

  9. #9
    Commodore con Forza
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    Yes, I've read that Widor thought others played the toccata too fast. Supposedly there is a recording of Widor playing it, but he was close to 90 at the time, and surely no longer in his prime. This makes it sound agonizingly slow!!

    The fact that no recordings exist of all those composers does leave things sort of up in the air. As for metronome markings, they are usually missing too. And one wonders if the markings in later editions were put there by the editors, rather than by the composers.

    The late Sir George Solti and the Chicago Symphony did a complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies for which the CD pamphlet makes quite a to-do about how Solti thought they should be played faster. Some of Beethoven's works had apparent metronome markings. Why did it take conductors 150 years to discover them???

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Indeed, dll927

    I met some composers in my life who could write a piece at a certain tempo and themselves couldn't play it that fast.... he he, so it was left to the performers to do it !
    But anyway there was the metronome marking on the score, so no doubt of what the composer wants.
    Editors do many.... "unwanted" or unapropriate stuff through the years.... and I believe their "legacy" went on to the record companies, hmmmm
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
    F.Kafka, Aphorisms.

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Messiaen was another, his own recordings of his works were notably slower than most other performances.

    One can only imagine what JSB must have sounded like when he played. I'd also be curious to know how many of his compositions were performed first as an improvisation and then written down.

    As for not knowing how fast he wanted them, we can never know if his own tempi were consistent either (I always have a good laugh when people refer to "Bach's metronome markings" - it's as inept as referring to "Bach's piano"). Without even a simple tempo marking such as "allegro" or "adagio" then one can reasonably assume that even tempi could be interpretive which, let's face it, they have been for centuries otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion!
    Last edited by Soubasse; Mar-06-2011 at 23:25.
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    just to add a note to tempos...I think due to the action of many modern instruments..IN GENERAL much organ music is played to fast. I am sure do to the action of many of the old tracker instruments( and I have had some experience with the beasts) one could not have played them( compositions ) as fast as many muscians seem to now days. Just my 2 cents worth
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Bill, this is a serious point. Yes.

    Is like playin' the same piece on a soft synthesizer keyboard and on a full weighted 88 mother or even on a real piano one. The size of the keys is another factor I reccon...
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
    F.Kafka, Aphorisms.

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Good point - many of the early organ keyboards were similar to harpsichord keys in that they were shorter which is what lead to the "curled fingers" technique (or so it's assumed). Coupling manuals on older mechanical action organs will usually make the touch heavier - unless you're lucky enough to have a Barker lever (which JSB did not of course!)

    What gets me about the Barker lever, particularly having experienced the one at St Sulpice, is just how damn well it works. Sure, it's noisy but who cares, when you can play with 4 or 5 manuals coupled and not notice, I'm not complaining! It would have been possible for Widor to have played his Toccata at breakneck speed and still retained the staccato markings ... interesting that he didn't.
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Matt, JSB would have LOVED St. Sulpice, that's for sure.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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