The Organ Music of Bach

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Welcome to ZeroGain, Bat.

    As always, Tones was being kind. No I don't know the interpreter. Can you please post some links?
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 18, 2004
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    bat, Feb 18, 2004
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Bat:

    He was a pupil of Anton Heiller (he is given as Anton Heller, but I think it is a misspelling). His activity reminds me a little of Helmut Walcha - he built his career playing for the same people again and again, and is a true Director Musices.

    All that suggests that he is a committed musician. Nevertheless, I've never heard him.

    Having been a pupil of Heiller, who was a truly outstanding Bach expert, I would be tempted to listen to his playing.

    But I cannot contribute more than that.

    Thank you for posting the link.

    EDITED TO ADD: It is Anton Heiller all right; I had just read the Italian part - only when I browsed thye link again did I find the English translation :rolleyes: .

    Anyway, for 20 Euros it will certainly be a bargain. Marcussen organs are usually very clean sounding and rather sharp; so the organ is probably adequate, even if modern research has shown Bach liked organs quite different from the Marcussen kind - which were inspired (rather freely) by Arp Schnitger organs.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2004
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 18, 2004
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  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    The CDs arrived, 18 of them. So far I am very pleased with them.
    Excellent recordings, virtuoso artist, the Marcussen organ sounds clean, sharp, somehow neutral, perhaps with a touch of Silbermann sound. The organ is miked relatively close which reduces echo and enhances clarity of lines. Occasional wrong note or two in the difficult trio sonatas but not disturbingly. I think this must be one of the best digital sets around. Question to RdS: are you sure that Marcussens are influenced by Schnitger, to my ears at least the St. Jacobi/Hamburg Arp Schnitger sounds much harder and more steely than Marcussen organs.
     
    bat, Feb 22, 2004
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  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Hi Bat,

    I'm glad you liked it. About the MArcussen. This is rather a long story and I'll try to make it short.

    The Marcussen, Anderson, Flentrop and chiefly, the Ahrend organs were all make in the spirit of the organ reform movement, which took inspiration in the north European organs, chiefly the Schnitgers.

    But, of course, all interpretations of what they thought a well restored Schnitger would sound like. The Anderson's, particularly, are totally different, smooth and very euphonic.

    It is also important to know that we don't exactly know how Schnitgers sounded like. The Ahrend restored Schnitgers sound very Ahrend like, the Beckerath restored Schnitgers sound Beckerath like and so on.

    The only contemporary description I know of a Schnitger organ (the Jacobi one) states that it was enormously powerful, dark and rather high in the mixtures. But that is too broad - many really big German organs from the baroque period (except the Gottfried Silbermans) correspond to that description.

    More important is that we don't actually know a lot about how to restore an organ. I spoke to many organ builders and systematically got different answers. Harald Vogel claims that Ahrend is a genius; but he himself admitted that there is too much left to be known, and that we don't really know how the façade principals were made, as so few of them survived (most were given to the State to make canons during the 1st word war!!!!).

    So, the Marcussens of about 1970 were, in fact inspired by north European tradition, and the epitome of north European tradition is Arp Schnitger. But there was always a lot of personal taste disguised under the 'Schnitger influence'. Chiefly, many organ builders thought that the powerful, hard sound of a Schnitger was a consequence of changes perpetrated during the 19th Century, and they made their organs sound more silvery. That may be the case with the Marcussen you are listening.

    However, I doubt that Marcussen emulated a Silberman. They are very different from Schnitgers (chiefly in the composition of Mixtures, Cymbels and Sharffs). If you have the specification you can find that out. If the Hw mixture is something like V-VI, VI or even VI-VIII, if there is Cymbel III, if you have a Gedackpommer or a Quintadena 16' in the Hauptwerk, if there are many reeds in the secondary keyboards (Dulzian, Fagott, Krumphorn, Regal , Tretcherregal, Apfelregal or Vox humana), if there is a trumpet 16' on the Hw or even if you have a Bombarde or Posaune 32' in the pedals, the influence is North European, Even if you have a Rückpositiv (Rp) as the first keyboard, the influence cannot have been Silberman.

    A typical big Hw Silberman composition would be:

    Bourdon 16
    Prinzipal 8
    Röhrflöte 8
    Viola di Gamba 8'
    Octave 4'
    Flöte 4
    Quinte oder Nasatt 3
    Superoctave 2'
    Tertia 1 3/5
    Mixtur IV
    Sharff III
    Very seldom, Trompete 8'

    Whereas a typical Hw Schnitger composition might be

    Prinzipal 16 (perhaps missing)
    Quintadena 16 (almost sure to be there)
    Octave oder Prinzipal 8'
    Hohlflöte 8
    Octave 4'
    Spitzflöte 4
    Quinte oder Nassatt 3
    Superoctave 2
    Rauschpfeiffe II
    Mixxtur VI (or VI-VIII if teh Prinzipal 16 is present)
    Cymbel III
    Trompet 16 or, in a smaller organ, 8'
    Voz humana 8' (perhaps in another manual)


    If you could post the composition (I mean, the actual stops) of the organ, I'll tell you what kind of instrument it is. If you'd like to attach a scan, please pm me.
     
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    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 22, 2004
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  6. Rodrigo de Sá

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    The 1942 Marcussen organ in Sorö ("voiced in a style based on the rediscovered pipe-measurements from ca. 1520"):
    Hw:
    Gedaktpommer 16'
    Principal 8'
    Spidsflöte 8'
    Gedakt 8'
    Oktav 4'
    Rörflöte 4'
    Quint 2 2/3'
    Oktav 2'
    Mixtur V
    Trompet 8'
    (H-R)
    (H-B)
    Rp:
    Rörgedakt 8'
    Quintatön 8'
    Principal 4'
    Gedaktflöte 4'
    Gemshorn 2'
    Sesquialetra II
    Sharf III
    Dulcian 16'
    Krumhorn 8'
    (P-R)
    (P-H)
    (P-B)
    Bw:
    Trägedakt 8'
    Nathorn 4'
    Spidsgedakt 4'
    Gedaktflöte 2'
    Nasat 1 1/3'
    Cymbel II
    Vox Humana 8'
    (Tremulant)
    Pedal:
    Principal 16'
    Subbass 16'
    Quint 10 2/3'
    Oktav 8'
    Gedakt 8'
    Oktav 4'
    Nathorn 4'
    Blokflöte 2'
    Mixtur IV
    Fagot 16'
    Trompet 8'
     
    bat, Feb 22, 2004
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  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    This is a very typical organ reform movement organ. As you see, the Werkprinzip is maintained - each department has its own casing; therefore, there are 4 separate sections: Haupwerk, main case, 2nd keyboard, Rückpositiv, behind the player, 1st keyboard, Brustwerk, 3rd keyboard just above the player and Pedal, two main towers flanking the Hauptwerk.

    This is a typical setting of North German organs. Silberman usually used to make all the pipes fit into a single case, even if they were separated inside. He never used a Rückpositiv -- it sounds too shrill and doesn't blend well (because it sounds several meters under it, with the Haupwerk. Also the Brustwerk is a specialty of the organ reform movement; this one seems very sweet sounding - cymbel II, no principals all the stops are very delicate; they weren't necessarily sweet sounding in 17th Century North Germany.

    Another clue is the Rückpositiv. Here you have the typical arrangement of reeds and tierce mixtures: if you use Dulcian 16, Krumhorn 8, Principal 4' (this is probably very sharp) Sexquialter II and Sharff III you get a typical Buxtehude like sound: very sharp, rasping and aggressive and yet sinister. It has also a typical feature of the early Reform movement: there is no principal 2' in the Rückpositiv, but the similar, but smoother sounding Gemshorn 2' (a conical open pipe). This is because the original Rückpositiven were really quite sharp: usually they intoned the choral and all the solo parts. In an original Schnitger, if one plays the full Rp against the full Hw, the positive is usually brighter and sometimes even stronger. In Schnitger's days, the Hp was usually coupled with the Brustwerk or the Oberwerk (if there was one) and not with the positive. The positiv was of a contrasting, not blending nature.

    Then, the Hw specification is typically Schnitger; instead of the Quintadena he had a Gedackpommer, which is less sharp than the Quintadena 16' (it is played with all the principals (octaves, quints), mixtures and perhaps the trompet 8 - it is the famous quintadena plenum of Arp Schnitger). There is no IIIfach zymbel, though. It is true it is unbearably sharp and was seldom used by XX century organists.

    Two further points of interest. In the Pedals, there is a 12' Quint (10 2/3), which works downwards and produces an acoustic 32', but rather soft.

    I suppose the organ is rather softly voiced. The organ reformers believed that power grew out of sweetness, as Arnold Dolmetsch claimed (rather incorrectly) old organs did. Therefore, the organs of this kind were brilliant, but sweet sounding and rather transparent - very good for Bach, as a matter of fact.

    All in all, the sound is probably light, very transparent, penetrating without being shrill. A typical organ reform 'Arp Schnitger - of course, it is completely different. Schnitger's organs are extremely strong and loud, not particularly transparent and rather dark sounding in spite of the very strong mixtures: a deep red copper sound.

    The sound of this organ is most probably very beautiful. I once played a similar (but somewhat larger) instrument and the effect was a marvel.

    Could you tell me how you came across this record?
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 22, 2004
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  8. Rodrigo de Sá

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    After some more listening I would describe this organ striking, bright, sharp, very beautiful, but not soft. The Silbermann organs that I have heard are much softer, delicate, flute-like, less powerful. This Marcussen organ is striking and some pieces could wake up the dead when played loudly. It is certainly a masterpiece. The artist uses often a reedy-sounding pedal stop (Fagot 16' ?)This organ is less neutral and less warm than the Marcussen organ that Kevin Bowyer uses in his Bach records.
    RdS, thanks for fascinating information. Is there a book, net resource or CD from which I could learn more about organ building, voicing etc.?
    I ordered my set from Amazon.fr, I have seen this set also elsewhere at a significantly higher price.
     
    bat, Feb 23, 2004
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  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    dear bat.

    Sorry for not answering before, but I had a totally useless 100 page report to write and very litle time for doing it. So I didn't visit the forum.

    It is probably the Fagott, yes, perhaps with the trumpet 8' and certainly something more. This particular kind of Fagott is really a narrow trumpet. It has a very rasping, strangely hollow sound. It is very beautiful and is essential to play the free pieces (i.e.: Preludes and Fugues) of Bach.

    As to books, there used to be many. Peter Williams had a couple of interesting ones (although rather barren in style and perhaps not sufficiently technical.

    There is a very good book by Poul-Gerhard Anderson (an organ builder himself, and an important actor of the organ reform movement). It was translated into English as Organ Building and Design. It is very interesting because it describes meticulously all the stops and their acioustic properties (but you have to know some acoustics). More than that, he actually explains with great detail one of the most fascinating things of the organ: the mixtures.

    There are two rather good sites ij the Net. One is this , on Arps Schnitger's organs. There are some interesting articles, but some of the most interesting are in Dutch.

    There is another one about Gottfried Silbermann, here

    However, neither of them is really technical.

    About the organ reform movement, there is a recent book (it has a CD, too, with registrations in the book), by Kerala Snyder , a specialist of Buxtehude.

    In fact, there are many organ pages in Internet, but are not necessarily very good.

    Of course, there is the enormous treatise by George Audsley (republished by the Dover Press). It is interesting, but it was written in the late 19th century, and his opinions are very different from the organs we like now.

    If I find or remember something more, I'll let you know.

    Good hunting!

    If I think of something interesting, I'll let you know.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 28, 2004
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  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    For those who can bear with organ talk.

    I posted more or less the same text on the first Walcha release of the organ works at Naim's. My main club is here, but I sometimes visit the music room.

    It had very interesting reactions. So, may I call your attention to them?

    See
    here . Scroll down my text, and then read the reactions of other members.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 16, 2004
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  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Your worst fears are coming true...

    the disgusting Keith Jarrett-friendly bat is emerging from his filthy cave...

    to temporarily break his vow of silence and ask if anybody is familiar with Hans Helmut Tillmanns's Bach organ recordings?
     
    bat, Apr 13, 2004
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  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    I see you went into the cave as a man end came out as a vamp ... bat.

    :JOEL:

    If that is the case, you *must* listen to a good Buxtehude record. For instance, this and this .

    If you didn't live in a cave I'd borrow it to you.

    But I don't know if it is safe to meet you in the flesh...

    [JOEL]

    :D

    No, I don't know about Tillman. Got a link?
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 14, 2004
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  13. Rodrigo de Sá

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    bat, Apr 14, 2004
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  14. Rodrigo de Sá

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    On the other hand, all Tillmanns performances are not good, he is uneven. Always maximum legato.
     
    bat, Apr 15, 2004
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  15. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Bat:

    I listened to several samples. They are not long enough to allow me to make an opinion. Nevertheless, some comments:

    First. I don't think he is playing very legato. Neither did Walcha, anyway. He uses what is normaly called 'common organ détaché' - a quasi-legato but with silence enough between the notes to make them stand out clearly. The effect that one gets is one of legato. Even so, he articulates the fugue themes quite clearly. For instance, the g-moll you mentioned has a clearly articulated ending. So does the C major (from the tocata).

    As I could only listen to the first exposition of the fugues, I can't tell how well he played them.

    But I listened to quite a bit of the An Wasserflüssen Babylon chorale. There I think I detect a certain ponderosity - as if he was wearing very heavy boots.

    He seems to like bright registration.

    That's all I can say.

    It seemed OK to me.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 16, 2004
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  16. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Well. Some day may be too late. They are not very often reissued. If I were you, I'd get, at least, volume 4. I think you will really like teh Praeludim in g minor.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 16, 2004
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  17. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Well if I some day get some money, I'll sure get the Vogel discs.
    And I wish I had some day also some time to listen to my collection too - each new purchase makes some old record obsolete because I don't have the time to listen to everything - I have a bunch of small bat kids running around.

    So it's not legato that Tillmanns does! Interesting. What I like about T is that he seems to play with his heart and there is none of that common 'Mama look how fast I can play this piece'-attitude. He's no Walcha but according to booklets 'he follows the style of his great example and teacher of H.W'. Good or not, I find myself playing these records often.

    Are you familiar with Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra's Franz Tunder record? I find it a pleasure, great sound and a new (2000)Schnitger-type organ.
     
    bat, Apr 17, 2004
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  18. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Bat:

    Tillmann could do worse than follow Walcha's example! I did not say it was not good - just that I cannot know from short samples.

    Being Walcha's student explains the bright registration and the kind of articulation he uses.

    I don't know Pamela Ruiter. Tunder is interesting although he is no Buxtehude, or even Lübeck or Bruhns. But I must say I don't know his music very well. I have no scores and, as far as I remember, no outstanding record with his music. I'll investigate her. Thanks for the suggestion, and a link would be appreciated.

    Regarding organ recordings in general, I sometimes think it is not very good to buy 'integrals', at least at first. This is because one cannot truly listen to the whole attentively. Now if one buys just a record, one can listen many times to it and pay a lot of attention to it.

    That is why I suggested that you buy Vol 4 of Vogel's Buxtehude; If you like it, after that you might buy Vol 7, then Vol 2. And if you are convinced, then perhaps buy the rest.

    Even if I don't like to have 'incomplete' sets, I often do just that. For instance, I bought two records of the Olivier Vernet Buxtehude integral and stopped there. The same with Helga Schauerte's. I got one record of Chapuis Bach integral and stopped there. Then I got one record of his Buxtehude integral and eventually (but rather slowly) bought them all.

    Integrals are very expensive and are always a risk.

    Just my two cents.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 17, 2004
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  19. Rodrigo de Sá

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    bat, Apr 17, 2004
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  20. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Bat:

    Looks delicious. I just ordered it. Thanks a lot.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 17, 2004
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