[quote="pe-zulu, post: 526163"]There is IMO a big difference in the attitudes of Messori and Vartolo on the one hand and Leonhardt and Jacobsen on the other hand. While the tempo and pace of the former is almost completely "free" - just depending on the spontaneity of the performer, the playing of the latter is only partially free, as it seems to vary according to some rather strict rules (agigoc give-and-take rubato). Observing these rules is part of what I see as stylistic understanding in the playing. I admit that some southeners have learnt these rules so well as to make them their own (Ghielmi, Corti, Alessandrini). But generally I think that Northerners obey these stylisitc demands in a more convincing way, than Southeners do. And this probably reflects some cultural difference in the way we learn to express ourselves. But of course the emotions as such do not differ.\r\n\r\nAnd concerning Southern (in the widest sense) legato contra Dutch style (even Koopman plays in Dutch style) I find that detailed and pointed articulation is a crucial part of the style and not an expression of some kind of pedantic mind. Cantabile playing of course implies detailled articulation, which must mimic the way you sing one or more notes on every syllable. The distribution of notes on syllables in Bach's voal works offers a very good guide to how he probably wanted his instrumental works articulated, and corresponds rather well to the actual but all too sparse articulation signs in his chamber music.[/QUOTE]\r\n\r\nAs I said, I don't know VArtolo's AoF, and your remarks do not make me eager to spend the money. \r\n\r\nBut I disagree in your view of Messori as far as the Chorales of the 'Organ Mass' are concerned. I will go a little into my own reaction to the record. \r\n\r\nI listened to it in the shop (just about a minute of each piece, or even less); it told me nothing, but I wanted to know the organs, they sounded very 'big' and I was always drawn to deep sounding organs. \r\n\r\nListening at home I had exactly the same attitude you mention. The Prelude (to which I have not listened properly yet Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I listened to the chorales first, and slowly) seemed too 'unbuttoned' in the sense that each section ended with too big a ritardando. \r\n\r\nYet, in the chorales, I felt a great deal of poetry. I never felt the metronome ticking (a feature that I truly loath), the phrasing was very 'broad' (long phrasing) but yet every structural part was there. The tempo is maintained throughout even if it varies; variations in the tempo are natural, you'll find that in Walcha, in Anton Heiler, and in MArie Claire Alain (but, I agree, not in Leonhardt). \r\n\r\nThe music flows, I agree on the edge of too much freedom, but every voice is respected (more or less, but in a very different way, as in the harpsichord version of the Art of Fugue by Sebastien Guillot). \r\n\r\nAs I see it, Messori views the music as a flux between important harmonic points; that is, indeed, the way in which Beethoven or Brahms is played: in long phrases between crucial harmonic points. Between those points, everything belongs to a 'gesture', as if throwing the music from point A to point B. In Messori theses gestures are, most of the time, controlled. \r\n\r\nIt may be argued that this is not the proper way to play Bach. Buxtehude perhaps, but not Bach. I actually agree: if you analyse the fingering of some of Bach's keyboard works (mainly his pedagogic fingerings of easy pieces) you will come to the conclusion that Bach played cantabile on relatively short phrases. \r\n\r\nYet, as Walcha, Heiller and Alain have shown, Bach's music, mainly his organ pieces, has a structural quality that encourages the stressing of very large phrases and building the whole as oppositions of these phrases. There is almost a sonata-form like structure in those long pieces that will never be revealed if you concentrate only on very short phrases (as Koopman and, indeed, in some instances Leonhardt, do; and that is indeed why, to my view, they utterly fail as conductors in, say, the introductions to the Passions: everything is taken step by step, and rhetoric is confined to the beat: as everything is stressed, it becomes deadly monotonous; the same may be said, I think, about Dantone's WTC). \r\n\r\nI know it has been defended that Bach's music is not to be played as a whole, but beat by beat. The proof that this is wrong is the awful recording by Monica Hughet (spelling?) of the sonatas and partias and, to my mind, the superiority of Szeryng over Kuijken on the same works. Also, the ghastly recording by Leonhardt of the Von Himmel hoch variations or his very first recording of the Art of Fugue, which is truly horrible, show that this is musically the wrong approach. \r\n\r\nSo I am claiming that Bach's music, as indeed all music except perhaps dance music, is to be played into a coherent architecture in which details matter rather less than the whole. \r\n\r\nIn this sense I defend Walcha, Heiller, Alain, Messori, Kempff and Perhaya (spelling, again) against Leonhardt, Koopman, Suzuki. \r\n\r\nSome may think I am clustering the unclusterable: Alain, Walcha and Messori don't belong together. They do in the sense that architecture precedes detail. \r\n\r\nI'll come back to this later. I hope this makes sense.