The Organ Music of Bach

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

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Dear pe-zulu,
    in your review you have captured the essence of the Corti set. With headphones the synthetizer-like Tamburini sound is probably better than with loudspeakers. Did you listen to his die Kunst der Fuge as well?
     
    bat, Oct 16, 2004
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear Bat
    Yes i did, and just Die Kunst der Fuge is the worst recorded part of the set. I do not use headphones but two floorspeakers with a subwoofer in the midst - usually resulting in a very clear, direct sound. As to the Knud Vad set I think you are right when you wrote that the sound is excellent with a subwoofer.
    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 16, 2004
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Perhaps this set could be nicknamed the "Dr Corti and Mr Tamburini" set.
     
    bat, Oct 16, 2004
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  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Alkmaar organ mixtures composition

    Here is the composition of mixtures of the Alkmaar organ

    Rugpositief Sexquialtera II:
    C 1-1/3 4/5
    c0 2-2/3 1-3/5
    c' 5-1/3 3-1/5

    There is no 16' foundation, either flue or reed.

    Rp Mixtuur V-VI:
    C 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/6
    G 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4
    c0 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/3
    g0 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2
    c' 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 2/3
    g' 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 1
    c'' 5-1/3 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 1/3
    c'''5-1/3 4 2-2/3 2-2/3 2 2

    The same...

    Rp Cimbel III:
    C 3/16 3/20 1/8
    F 1/4 1/5 1/6
    c0 3/8 3/10 1/4
    f0 1/2 2/5 1/3
    c' 3/4 3/5 1/2
    f' 1 4/5 2/3
    c'' 1-1/2 1-1/5 1
    f'' 2 1-3/5 1-1/3
    c'''3 2-2/5 2

    A ringing bell, not a mixture

    Groot-Manuaal Tertiaan II:
    C 4/5 2/3
    c0 1-3/5 1-1/3
    c' 3-1/5 2-2/3

    Gm Mixtuur VI:
    C 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/4
    G 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/3
    c0 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/2
    g0 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 2/3
    c' 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 1
    g' 5-1/3 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1-1/3
    c'' 5-1/3 4 2-2/3 2-2/3 2 2

    Notice the low mixture: no 1 1/3 ranks in the treble

    Bovenwerk Sexquialtera II:
    (same as Rugpositief)

    Again, there is no 16' stop on this department...

    Bw Scherp IV:
    C 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/6
    G 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4
    c0 1 2/3 1/2 1/3
    g0 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2
    c' 2 1-1/3 1 2/3
    g' 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1
    c'' 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3

    Bw Cimbel III:
    (same as Rugpositief)

    Another zimbelstern

    Pedaal Ruyschpyp III:
    2-2/3 2 1-1/3 throughout

    Ped Mixtuur VIII:
    C 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/6 1/6
    G 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/4
    c0 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/3 1/3
    g0 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 2/3 1/2 1/2
    c' 4 2-2/3 2 1-1/3 1 1 2/3 2/3

    Beautiful pedal mixture; and the 16' posaune (Trombone) is a marvel. Also, there is a 24' combination tone (an accoustical 64')

    This means a plenum (16') oriented planning of the organ, with Haupwerk/Rückpositiv/Bovenwerk coupling.

    Quite difficult to make out if you mean to play Bach (and quite impossible with Buxtehude and previous music). Of course, if you accept, as many do, that "organo pleno" means a 16' manual plenum (as I think it does with Bach, trompet 16 included) and 32' in the pedal (in this instance, an awesome resultant 64'), you might like it. But how to use this in a choral?

    I personally think Bach would like the mixtures of the Haupwtwerk (with the Rauschpfeiffe), but I strongly doubt he would accept the 16' sexquialteras and terzians.

    Anyway, any attempt to call this a 'Schnitger-organ' is misleading. The mixtures of Arp Schnitger are quite different (8' plus Quintatön 16' or Principal 16' oriented) and they are higher (usually 1 1/3 in the treble, with several 1 1/3 ranks).

    Here is the overall organ composition:

    RUGPOSITIEF (I)

    8' Praestant I-II 1645/1725/1782
    8' Quintadena 1645/1782/1986
    4' Octaav 1725
    4' Fluit 1645/1725, with chimneys
    3' Quintfluit 1645/1983, cylindrical
    3' Nasaat 1725, conical
    2' Superoctaav 1725
    2' Waldfluit 1645/1725/1986
    1 1/2' Quintanus 1725/1986
    II Sexquialtera 1725, 1 1/3'
    V-VI Mixtuur 1725, 2/3'
    III Cimbel 1725, 1/5'
    8' Trompet 1725/1782
    8' Fagot 1725
    8' Vox humana 1725
    Tremulant

    One would expect the Fagot to be 16' or a Quintadena 16'. Anyway, not a 16' mixture and sexquialter... Solos are available only with flutes and reeds. The Praestant 8 I-II is rather strong, and this is a Dutch tradition. Usually quite beautiful when used solo.

    GROOT-MANUAAL (Hoofdwerk; II)

    16' Praestant 1645, C-F# stopped, from G in facade
    8' Praestant 1645
    6' Praestantquint 1645/1782/1986
    4' Octaav 1645
    3' Quinta 1986
    2' Octaav 1645
    2' Flachfluit 1645/1725, C-B stopped, rest cylindrical
    II Ruyschpyp 1645/1725, 2'+ 1 1/3'
    II Tertiaan 1725, 4/5'
    VI Mixtuur 1986, 1'
    16' Trompet 1725
    8' Viool di Gamba 1725 (reed)
    4' Trompet 1725/1986

    This means the trompet 8' must come from either the Rp or the BW. An indication this is a coupling organ. And what function has the Flachflöte 2'? Clearly a 16' oriented plenum. You cannot really use the octave 8 as a foundation stop.

    BOVENWERK (III)

    8' Praestant 1645
    8' Baarpijp 1685
    8' Rohrfluit 1725
    8' Quintadena 1645/1725
    4' Octaav 1645/1725
    4' Fluit dous 1645/1725, stopped
    3' Spitsfluit 1725, conical
    2' Superoctaav 1645
    2' Speelfluit 1725, conical
    II Sexquialtera 1725, 1 1/3'
    IV Scherp 1725, 1/2'
    III Cimbel 1725, 1/5'
    8' Trompet 1725
    8' Hautbois 1725
    8' Vox humana 1725
    Tremulant

    Except for the sexquialter and the cymbel, this is a normal 8' plenum werk. You can also have a good and beautiful solo, either with flute chorus or the Vox humana plus Octave 4' and tremulant. The Sexquialter 16' is a clear indication it is meant to be coupled to the 16' plenum.

    PEDAAL

    22' Principaal 1645, sounds 21 1/3' G on C, 64' resultant
    16' Praestant 1645
    12' Rohrquint 1645/1725/1782/1986
    8' Octaav 1645
    6' Quinta 1645/1725/1986
    4' Octaav 1645
    2' Nachthorn 1725, narrow-scale, with chimneys, quite strong, and not flute like at all: a plenum stop.
    III Ruyschpyp 1725, 3'
    VIII Mixtuur 1725/1986
    16' Basuin 1725 (= Posaune)
    8' Trompet 1725
    4' Trompet 1725
    2' Cornet 1725

    A monsters 64'. But quite beautiful. A marvelous Basuin 16'.

    COUPLERS

    RP/GM, BW/GM, BW/RP (original!), RP/P (added), GM/P (added). This means the plenum, from the beginning, was meant to be played with all the werks coupled on the Rp. It also means there is no autonomous Rp plenum. Quite unlike Arp Schnitger.

    In case you did not notice it, the cymbels are just a sort of replacement of the zimbelstern... Not usable in normal music making because they are accoustically wrong... A weird organ indeed.

    I'll post further on harpsichord (although post-festum, I agree), and on Walcha and his toucher technique.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2004
    Rodrigo de Sá, Oct 17, 2004
    #64
  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS

    Thank you very much for kindly sending me the complete dispositionlist of the Alkmaar organ as well as your small useful comments, enabling me to listen to it with more analytical ears.
    I have never heard the organ live and listening to a recording about 40 years old should otherwise result in much more guesswork. I think that Erich Thienhaus is to blame a bit, because the mikes are so close to the Rp, and the recording so shrill, that the annoying character of some of the RP-stops is intensified. This applies to the sesquialtera but also to the Superoctav. Perhaps these things could have been modified with more clever enginering. But as you probably know, when recording Walchas Ammer harpsichord, Thienhaus placed the mikes just beneath the sounding board, resulting in an actual rather aggressive sound.So his style was close sound.

    By the way, why Walcha never published his registrations is a mystery to me. Think of how readily Marie-Claire Alain, Lionel Rogg and Gerhard Weinberger fx publish all details. Perhaps Walcha was afraid of being accused of not being a scholar, but
    on the other hand, why did he publish his articulation-rules, running the same risk? All the same, I am wery interested to read them, and if you prefer to send them with post, I can write my address to you via Zerogains e-mailfunction.

    Back to Walcas registrations: In the dorian Toccata I suppose the following: HW 8F plenum to mixtures alternating with RP "plenum" with sesquialtera. Fugue starting on RP plenum
    founded on Trumpet 8F, later HW 16F plenum to mixtures, and at
    last HW and RP coupled, perhaps with some more mixtures from OW - the sound is wery sharp. Pedal 16F plenum all through, I am not sure if he uses the fake 32F, and I dont think he uses the fake 64F.

    Thank again for you very interesting and informative post, I
    have much to learn from you.

    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 17, 2004
    #65
  6. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS
    PS:
    Schnitger and Schnitger are many things - just as Silbermann.
    I understand that F C Schnitger was responsible for the low sesquialteras and the low tertian (1725). But why did he make it in that way?
    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 17, 2004
    #66
  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear pe-zulu:

    I am very pressed for time, so I'll answer fully as soon as I can. The registration of the doric fugue has been a mystery for me from boyhood... I'll give it a hard listen asap.

    I tried to pm you, but I failed. So if you would be so kind as to pm me your address, I'll send you a copy. The odd thing is, he actually published his registrations (all very piquant as expected) for the Dreikönigsorgel. He also published them in his edition of the Art of Fugue (which I don't have - it is actually simpler to play it without the pedals as there is no pedal line and one has to have an acrobatic foot technique).

    The beauty of these fora is that we all learn from each other: your posts have tought me a lot - I thought your analysis of Walcha's technique was masterful -, and most regulars here know a lot - I have learnt from all of them.

    I only wish I could be a more devoted poster - as I was some time ago. But at this moment, there are so many problems and tasks to sort out that I can hardly visit here. Anyway, I will reply fully to your thought provoking posts (and to everybody else's, of course - but we seem to be in the same vein of musical preferences).

    Thank you for your words and posts.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Oct 18, 2004
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  8. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Dear experts
    Very interesting posts. Chronic lack of time here, too. Maybe quitting classical completely would release some time for other purposes? Music is like gourmet food - you can have too much. I just listened to Rainer Oster's St Jacobi recording of Doric Toccata und Fuge. The last minute of the Fuge is spectacular as Oster makes use of the 32' Principal - it is not a motorcycle but a V12 engine. I wish I had a subwoofer!
     
    bat, Oct 18, 2004
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  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    The hands down greatest Bach organ set of all has yet to be mentioned... Hans Fagius's (17 CDs)
     
    bat, Oct 18, 2004
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  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear Bat

    Oster is a favorit of mine. The Dorian fugue is played rather slow with dignity and authority, Bach might have liked it so. The Dorian Toccata though a little disappointing, too fast and a little nervous in character.
    The other works on the same CD are wery fine too. The BWV 547
    Fugue also played with HW 16F Plenum and PED 32F plenum. On a marvellous organ - to say the least.

    Oster recorded at the same time on the same organ a CD with works of Buxtehude. This stands well up to the BachCD, con-taining almost exclusively free organworks, ending with the dramatic Toccata d-minor (Buxtehude!) played really exciting. And again: A marvellous organ. If you dont know it, get it, it is worth every penny.

    I know the Bach set of Hans Fagius wery well, and I like it much.
    It does not include Die Kunst der Fuge, which he recorded later on an organ in Copenhagen.

    But what about Wolfgang Stockmeier, nobody has said a word about him, and there are many others.

    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 18, 2004
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  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Fagius:

    I know his records well. Very sober but very efficient. A very good set. His Art of Fugue is perhaps not quite on the same league as Walcha's. I think I briefly reviewed it in this forum. If I find it I'll post a link.

    I ordered the Oster records today. I'll report later.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Oct 19, 2004
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  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    I think it is here
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Oct 19, 2004
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  13. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS
    Despite all Walchas wrong details I find only two organists in the same league when it is about Die Kunst der Fuge, and these are Marie -Claire Alain (both recordings) and Wolfgang Rübsam
    (both recordings). Even if I regard Die Kunst best suited for organ performance, I al in all prefer the recording of Leonhardt
    (his second recording DHM).
    I know the recording of Fagius, a little cold i think, in contrast to the glowing performances of Walcha and especially Rübsam I.

    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 19, 2004
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  14. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Fagius may be cold but in my opinion it is cool, pure Bach, I mean that his style really suits Bach, for example the first trio sonata (at the Cahman organ) is beautiful beyond words. I have heard Fagius play the Leipzig chorale preludes live in 1991, he is an impressive artist and I shall never forget that I heard that concert. About Rübsam's Naxos records there are horror stories in the web... I had once his (Naxos) Die Kunst der Fuge records which I quickly traded in... they were S-L-O-W, perhaps I should have taken diazepame or something first. Maybe pe-zulu means that he likes Rübsam's earlier Philips recordings?
     
    bat, Nov 6, 2004
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  15. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Pe-Zulu:

    It is difficult to say which I like most. If I would be really pressed for it, I'd say Gilbert. Only, his version is different from the BWV 1080... Interesting, but many differences and we lack the marvelous counterpoint IV and, of course, the last fugue (I have an obsession with that! After having read the 'fragment x' theory of Ch. Wolff, I even dreamt about it).
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Nov 7, 2004
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  16. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    OSTER RECORDS

    I listened to the Buxtehude closely. I was a bit disapointed with the e-minor chaconne, but then as I played it (I mean, I really studied it, to the point of performing it live) that is only natural, because I have very strong views on it, and he plays it in a totally different way. The abrupt phrasing at first sounded a little strange (somewhat like Goebel) but as I grew accoustumed to it I really began to enjoy the recordings. The f#minor Prelude is incredible. I was explaining it to my wife and I stood up to comment on the registration: I just froze and listened until the end.

    The Bach is also good, but I was interrupted and so did not get a clear picture. I'll listen to it today if I can.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Nov 7, 2004
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  17. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Mmm... The Bach record I bought is not the same Pe-Zulu mentioned. It has the D major Prelude, A minor Concerto, the C major tocata, a few chorales and the 6th triosonata. The specification of the organ is not given.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Nov 7, 2004
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  18. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS

    The OsterCD you mention is his first for ArteNova, played on a (to me) unknown Mühlheisen-organ. The one I mentioned is his second for ArteNova played on the Schnitger,Sct.Jacobi,Hamburg and contains BWV 547,590,572,527,545 (with the 2. movement of 529 in the middle ,654 and 538. Arte Nova 74321 63644-2. Both are in my opinion very good, but the HamburgCD the most personal and expressive . Add to this the splendid organ. Osters frasing and agogics reminds of Rübsam (Philips-set 1977), I think Oster learnt it from him.

    The missing last fuge is of course also the sad point in Leonardts Kunst der Fuge for DHM, but it is included in his recording for Amadeo(1952) reedited by Vanguard. This older recording is
    more calm and more legato than the newer, so I prefer the newer.

    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Nov 7, 2004
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  19. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear Bat

    I know Fagius' complete Bachcycle wery well, and I would not call him very cool on the basis of this, but his Kunst der Fuge, recorded ten years later on a modern organ is disappointing in content in relation to his complete set.

    Bach is not cool at all, even if many performers seem to think so, stressing the intellectual part of the music. But listen to Wolfgang Rübsams first integral (Philips) or Marie-Claire Alains
    second integral(1980) or third integral(ca 1992), or Anton Heiller, and it is clear, that Bachs music is much more . In my opinion it contains the ideal synthesis between intellect and emotion, and constitutes a bridge over the gap between our cerebral and physical nature. You must be able to listen to Bachs music with both parts of the brain at the same time to experience his true greatness.

    Rübsams second integral for Naxos is not radical different from his first integral, but it is more reflective, with attention to all details ( the slower tempo to realize that), without loosing the overall view, and it deserves great contration from the part of the listener, but what a wonderful journey through the music. You are left in no doubt that Rübsam really loves this music, like Marie-Claire Alain, an they are both instrumental in transmitting this passion to us.

    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Nov 7, 2004
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  20. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear RdS
    See page 4 of this thread.
    Venlig hilsen
     
    pe-zulu, Nov 7, 2004
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