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Thread: Tell us your favourite Bach organ works!

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Dressler View Post
    I guess overall I vote for the Dorian Toccata and Fugue, especially the fugue--I think one of the best he wrote.
    I agree with this one. The fugue is something very special among Bach's repertoire. Stylistically it is like a mix of early modal counterpoint with the more modern tonal counterpoint typical of Bach. Technically wtihout going into much detail it is even more impressive, with the subject carefully written to imply a cycle of 5ths succession in the descending suspensions and during the development the extensive use of stretto of a single motive in many different arrangements, so carefully planned. Heavy use of 7th chords, abundance of oblique motion which works so well on this instrument to create dissonance. Technically in my opinion this fugue is in a league of its own.

  2. #17
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    Here's my fav's

    BWV538 - Toccata and Fugue "Dorian" - D Minor
    BWV542 - Fantasia and Fugue "Grand" - G Minor
    BWV543 - Prelude and Fugue - A Minor
    BWV544 - Prelude and Fugue - B Minor
    BWV552 - Prelude and Fugue "St. Anne" - E Flat Major
    BWV582 - Passacaglia and Fugue - C Minor

    I have practiced and played them all except the Passacaglia which I plan to start working on this summer.

    However, it's hard to pick fav's because I find most pieces by J.S.Bach to be great. Some are maybe more difficult than others to express the greatness to audience.

  3. #18
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    It's hard to think that Bach wrote anything that a quarter of a millenium later isn't still absolutely wonderful, but one of my fav's is the C min Predule and Fugue BWV 546.

    Contrast the powerful and dark opening theme with it's crotchet/duplet quavers with the the sheer devilish playfulness of the triplet figures which run through much/most of the prelude (especially the the little counter-figures in the LH) whilst still maintaining the darker shades must have dropped many a jaw as they come ringing through. And it is followed by a truly exquisite Fugue.

    Sadly I don't have the skill levels required to truly communcate this work in all its various layers. It's one thing to manage to play the notes, quite another to communicate a piece like this to an audience.

  4. #19
    Recruit, Pianissimo biggestelk's Avatar
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    For me it's "Num komn' der Heiden Heilland" BWV 659, the slow beautifully embellished choral. I can just about play it to my own satisfaction too!

  5. #20
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Biggestelk ... that is a beautiful inspiring piece ... always get good comments when I use it in church.
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  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by biggestelk View Post
    For me it's "Num komn' der Heiden Heilland" BWV 659, the slow beautifully embellished choral. I can just about play it to my own satisfaction too!
    Liebster Jesu Wir sind Hier is another of the same ilk. Equally Beautiful.

  7. #22
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    Smile Vowles Tracker

    I was wondering if J.S. Bach was born as an Englishman would his great organ works be so popular?

    How on earth would you sell your works under the name of John Sebastian Brook?

  8. #23
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    He might have had a much less favourable general environment in which to work possibly?

  9. #24
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vowles Tracker View Post
    John Sebastian Brook?
    Oh I don't know - kind of catchy don't you think?

    It's an interesting hypothesis though. Given that the standard of English Baroque music in general (outside of the works of Purcell and Handel ... if we can call the latter "English") is generally seen as, shall we say "lacking", one could wonder as to who an English JSB's teacher would have been and whether he would have developed the craft to the extent that the real JSB did. I'm sure most of us are familiar with the "Old English Organ Music for manuals" collections. Sure they're pleasant enough pieces (most of them!) but not exactly as inspiring as what JSB gave us.

    MPA
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  10. #25
    Ensign, Principal Jeffrey Hall's Avatar
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    Interesting to ponder. This of course is getting to the classic "nature versus nurture" issue that goes from ancient literature into present-day cinema (e.g., Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places).

    I side with nature. Probably the Puritan attitudes didn't help the development (beyond Handel) of exquisite music in Baroque England. They evidently didn't help with the development of 18th-century English organs. But a transcendent genius like Bach is so rare that he is a statistical oddity -- he can appear at any time, in any culture, and this kind of genius that's five or six standard deviations away from the norm will overcome the local obstacles. A competent teacher from the English "cute pieces for manuals" school could have taught Bach and he would have run from there (perhaps would have even moved away to where he could exercise the full range of his abilities). Bach's teachers, such as older brother Johann Christoph, were hardly giants.

  11. #26
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    I'm wondering if, given that Church music in England was generally languishing at the time, and given that patronage was hugely important to any composer, perhaps IF Brook had stayed in England (rather than Fleeing to Holland or Germany) then those prodigious tallents might have been directed more towards 'court music'?

    (Rhetorical question)

  12. #27
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    Oh yes - another thing - to find the best of English composers I think you need to look at the various choral setting, Te-deums, Maginificats/nunc dimitis, the settings for the masses (glorias, Credos, benedictus, agnus dei etc.) of which pretty much the standard fare of the large English cathedral choirs tends to be from the likes of Morely, Tallis, Blow, Purcel et al.

    I think this is where their best work was done. (within the religious sense)

  13. #28
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    Well you all are going to laugh because it's not a very technically demanding work! But here it goes. For me its "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier" BWV 731. There's something in that choral that make it really special. Only Bach could have composed such a perfect and expressive work.
    regards
    nachoba

  14. #29
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Well I'm not laughing, nachoba ... sometimes these quieter & slower pieces are just as challenging as the more bombastic ones. A wrong note in Liebster Jesu stands out like a sore thumb and everybody listening will know it, whereas in a Fantasia with 16th's running all over the place in both hands and the feet, one wrong note will go totally unnoticed.

    Funny you should mention this piece today - it is my selected Prelude for Sunday, which turns out to be Confirmation day for our youth, too.
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  15. #30
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    Vowles Tracker

    Oh my favourite Bach organ work is the Toccata & Fugue in F Major BWV 540 with its 438 bars, the Toccata is a real gigantic spine tingling experience I just burst with joy on hearing it. Sadly it appears never to be performed by so called world class perfomers who delight in boring the pants off with that other Toccata & Fugue in D Minor BWV 565. please give the listening public a break Boris Karloff is dead

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