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Thread: R.I.P. Dutch organist and conductor Charles de Wolff

  1. #1
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Marc's Avatar
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    R.I.P. Dutch organist and conductor Charles de Wolff

    Charles de Wolff, former chief of the Netherlands Bach Society, died last Thursday at the age of 79.

    As organist he was famous for his interpretations of J.S. Bach, Max Reger and Olivier Messiaen.
    As conductor he had to struggle to survive in Naarden (hometown of the Bach Society) after the HIP-revolution in the 70s. De Wolff's style had developed itself to some 'in between' way of Bach playing, with fresh tempi but still large choirs and orchestras. In 1983 he decided to leave the Bach Society. Almost the entire choir left with him.

    I attended many concerts by De Wolff in Groningen, where he was conductor of the Noord Nederlands Filharmonisch Orkest, during the 2nd half of the 80s. I can assure you that it wasn't a punishment to listen and watch a noble performance of Bach's Matthäus or Johannes Passion with soloists like Barbara Schlick, Sylvia Schlüter, Kurt Equiluz and Max van Egmond!

    Since a year or two, after my own organ rediscovery , I also realized that De Wolff was indeed very good on the organ, the instrument he loved so much. I cherish two nice organ discs with him, which were recorded in the late 60s and re-issued on the small cd-label Prestare. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to get outside the Netherlands.

    Charles de Wolff was a fine and inspiring musician.
    May he rest in peace.


  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Certainly sounds like we lost another great musician. May he R.I.P. as he joins the others who have gone before.
    ....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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    Commander, Assistant Conductor Marc's Avatar
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    De Wolff was frequently broadcasted on Dutch radio in the 60s and 70s.

    Some examples of his organ playing:

    J.S. Bach: Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654
    http://www.**************/?3wljd3pxklf6l2p

    Max Reger: Ach Gott, verlaß mich nicht (from op. 79b)
    http://www.**************/?tf1b6hhect8s1hx

    Max Reger: Jesu, meine Zuversicht (from op. 67)
    http://www.**************/?9upfgxzn23nzmdx

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    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Another glowing star in the firnament of the music world has been extinguished and we shall be the poorer for it. Although perhaps not so well known outside of the Netherlands the three audio clips you provided show his talent and underscores our great loss.

    Your comments on the Passions you heard him direct took me back about twenty years to the afternoon when Schubert's Winterreise, was sung to an enraptured audience in the Congregational Church in our small Western Massachusetts by Max van Egmond.
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

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    Commander, Assistant Conductor Marc's Avatar
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    Yes, Max van Egmond was a great storyteller! He was a much celebrated singer around here for about three decades.
    Personally, Van Egmond and Kurt Equiluz made my favourite duo for the Evangelist and Jesus during those years.

    Btw: in the three audioclips, Charles de Wolff is playing the famous F.C. Schnitger organ of the Michaëlskerk in Zwolle, NL, an instrument that he knew very well.
    Appropriate, in a way, because Zwolle was also the place where he passed away last Thursday.

    Though mainly known for 2 decades as chief of the Dutch Bach Society, De Wolff embraced modern music, too.

    Thus now for something completely different to conclude:
    Charles de Wolff plays Volumina of György Ligeti (1923-2006) on the same baroque Schnitger organ, a live performance Anno Domini 1971.

    http://www.**************/?wynm4pzyh9tsda5

    Enjoy!

    (I just could not resist to do this .)

  6. #6
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Marc's Avatar
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    And found this one on YouTube:
    Charles de Wolff plays Fantasie opus 46 of Max Reger on (again) the Schnitger organ of the Michaëlskerk in Zwolle.



    And here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bMn1z1hpys

    De Wolff playing a Toccata of Dutch composer Anthon van der Horst, his teacher and precursor as conductor of the Netherlands Bach Society.
    Last edited by Marc; Nov-27-2011 at 20:42.

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