The Organ Music of Bach

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

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    No. I'm a monomaniac by nature. :D

    And your bad influence isn't costing me all that much .... ;)

    It's just a matter of some self-discipline. Which means that I frequently turn to the library instead of some cd- or internet shop. :)
     
    Marc, Mar 8, 2010
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Marc and dear pe-zulu:

    Let's start with the Alkmaar-Metzler comparison. Now of course I prefer the Alkmaar instrument. In fact, this particular organ has a character that I never found in other organs, even the ones by Arp Schnitger. The Mixtures, the unbelievable sexquialteras and perhaps, even more, the unique Posaune 16, all have a marvelous sound. But remember that the perfection you hear today was never heard in the past: the organ was somewhat problematic and if I am not mistaken (I may check) there was a plan to rebuild it.

    But many historic organs are not enough for Bach. I don't mean that the composition is wrong. It is the lack of perfection that bothers me. It may be that I am completely addicted to BAch's music, and therefore feel it as ageless (well, not always), but it seems to me that, with a few exceptions, Bach never really composed for a given kind of sound, and therefore that the sound must be nice, beautiful (which for me means brilliant) but forgetable. In old organs it is impossible to forget about the sound, because of the irregularities, the wind problems and so on.
    In Bach like organological perfect functioning, not organological conditioning of the music.

    Therefore the Metzler would not have been my choice (I agree it is somewhat characterless), but the Schwenkedel is a marvel: brilliant, well voiced, quick, polyphonic.

    In Grigny or Buxtehude this is completely different. They had specific instruments in mind when they composed; so Buxtehude's music sounds best in a large Schnitger and Grigny's in a large French 3+Pedal. As those musicians (chiefly Buxtehude) used actual sound effects (pauses for effect are obvious) we must use the kind of organ he wanted to have (we know it is a large Schnitger).

    With Bach that doesn't happen; we only know that he liked tuttis and a low sonority; he was said to like reeds and to have been creative in registation (did he use manual reeds in the tutti, which as usually proscribed? probably, as Buxtehude and Reiken certainly did; what other function can the 16 foot trompet in the Hauptwerk have?); he certainly used sexquialteras and flutes, probably the violas of his time. The only instrument that I know which is related to Bach's influence is the Wenselkirche's in Naumburg; it is not a very beautiful organ; impressive yes, but somewhat vulgar in tone; the plenum is rather good, even if it is somewhat coarse.

    For me, Bach in a Müller sounds opaque (because of the Müller voicing, which I find a bit dull); in a cathedral Silbermann the manuals sound too soft (because of the mixtures, which were somewhat low); in a Schnitger, I feel the wind is not stable enough.

    But there is also another fact. Current research claims that organs and harpsichords of the 18th Century were less brilliant than the early versions (and again, some early Dutch and German organs are not brilliant at all: the Frietsche's are very 'round' in sound); the haprsichords are being reviewed. Modern iron strings make the sound less brilliant. We are currently experiencing (in harpsichords) the influence of a very questionable interpretation (because we really don't know how they were strung) of how a Mietke sounded like (in its modern incarnations it sounds dull, for me); also, the Silbermann harpsichords are very odd: silvery and apparently not strong at all, not very brilliant.

    So there is a tendency for a more fundamental sound either in harpsichord or organ building, which I very strongly dislike. This is a personal question. I like very brilliant but not forced sound. For me the beauty of a ringing chiffy principal and of a high mixture (I mean really high, possibly with the marvelous high thirds) is impossible to surpass; a thinly reeded regal marvels me; and I hate hollow or quinty sounds (from childhood I hated the clarinet). So I would like Bach (a-organological music, I think) to be played in perfect instruments with the kind of sound I love. Historic organs are too imperfect for Bach, they are not all that subtle and brilliant, and they sometimes make polyphony murky (I know polyphony was not really meant to be heard, but nevertheless I like to be able to spot the voices).

    So there you are.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 9, 2010
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Rodrigo, you know so much more about the instruments and organ playing, that I would feel presumptuous to say much about this topic.

    My feelings, as expressed before, are more general impressions after only 12 or 13 months of more or less thorough organ listening .... mainly cd's, and a few concerts here and there.

    I would like to say this though (maybe I've mentioned something like it before): I wouldn't be surprised if it's also a matter of the musician's skill to make polyphony heard at historic instruments. I've been to about 6 or 7 concerts last year in the Martinikerk in Groningen, NL, and there were rather striking differences to be heard.

    For instance: Jan Hage, who himself is organist of the Kloosterkerk, The Hague, and plays a 'modern' Marcussen organ there, wasn't really able to make Bach's polyphony clear in the Martinikerk. But Jacques van Oortmerssen (playing mainly historic organs all the time) and especially 'home-organist' Wim van Beek were. Maybe this was caused by the fact that the latter two are far more experienced with older instruments. Maybe it takes a serious amount of time to make such an instrument your 'own'.

    I also once read the story about the spectacular American organist Virgil Fox, who flabbergasted his listeners with his Bach across the ocean, but once he came to Europe and tried to play a baroque instrument he utterly failed.

    A modern instrument has got all kinds of tools which make life much more easier for the organist. Combined with a refined sound it is not hard to imagine that lots of musicians and listeners prefer such an instrument. But I have to admit: when I hear a tough old cookie ;) moaning and sighing during a piece like f.i. BWV 562, it really moves me whilst listening. To me, these sounds almost make the organ a living being .... but then again: to each and everyone his/her own.

    BTW: I agree about the Schwenkedel that's played by Alain in some of her Bach discs. I like the sound of that one, too!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2010
    Marc, Mar 9, 2010
  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    How I envy you! You listen to the Martini organ when you like! Your remark is very cogent: an old organ must be induced to sound well. But then the Martini isn't exactly an old organ: the case is old, but it was almost built again by Ahrend. But that said, it is certainly true that old organs have to be learned. I am not speaking from experience, here. I did play old organs, but never for long enough to really know. But Marie Claire Alain says that one must adapt to old instruments and that the process is not automatic at all.

    As for polyphony, it is true that if you play more or less legato in a Marcussen, the result will be good, whereas in an old organ, you often have to be more creative and experiment a lot.

    Now I'd like to say that listening to the old organs trembling and almost moaning I feel impressed, too. But, again, not with Bach.

    Let me say that, in terms of organ building, I am what might be called an iconoclast. It is all very well to have the Schnitgers, the Silbermanns, the Trosts. But we need to get out of this despairing trend that maintains that only the 17th Century methods are good.

    With the advent of electronics and the computer chips I am almost certain that the mechanical action could be forgotten, that organists would be able to listen to what they are playing (I mean, the could sit not hidden from the sound but in the nave) and still modulate the sound from the keyboard, and I completely fail to see the so called advantages of the slider system made from oak when we have all the fabulous materials of a technological age. Also, I am not completely against the idea of Jean Guillou, that the Werkprinzip is dead.

    This general approach applies to harpsichords, too, although I cannot really say what kind of experiments may be made (I know there were experiments with metal soundboards, but I don't know how they sound).

    I am not being provocative, but I think my good friend pe-zulu will not agree with me! In fact, having listened to historical organs and marveled at their sound, most people think I am being either provocative or plain mad. I can understand, but, again to quote Jean Guillou (I read his book, L'orgue: souvernir et avenir 30 years ago and it did impress me, and later had the rare chance of talking with him). But the organ community is extremely conservative...

    P.S.: Edited to add. American organists are used to electric keyboards that are as light or lighter than a harpsichord's, to perfect wind and to an extremely homogeneous voicing. When they play old European organs they cannot get used to irregular and heavy keyboards, unstable wind and even, sometimes, to the siting height of the benches. Apart from Brumbaugh and a few others, America is another planet concerning organs. This from an organist friend who toured thorugh America.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 10, 2010
  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear Rodrigo

    From where do you know, that Bach did not have a specific organ sound in mind for his organ works? Why should he distinguish himself from e.g. Buxtehude and de Grigny in that respect?

    My earliest experience with Bachs organ works (as well as the organ works of other baroque composers) was not through recordings but by several organ recitals in and around Copenhagen mainly on modern Marcussen organs. I did not know better for some years, but when I began to get hold of several recordings made on more or less properly restored historical instruments, I began to realize and to appreciate the sound of these instruments, finding most of the Marcussen organs neutral, blend and colourless compared to the old organs. Maybe the omnipresent equal tuning has something to do with this.

    A look at the Marcussen disposition might lead one to think, that these organs are built in North German style, but the actual sound is far from it. And this is not only because they lack patina. In a way lack of patina is more authentic, since the relatively new Schnitger and Silbermann organs in Bachs time probably lacked patina as well. But the sound of these Marcussen organs (and many others, not the least Metzler) is directed towards universality - towards the option of being able to play all organ music from the earliest time to our day upon them. And the result is, that everything sounds alike, and nothing sounds as it should including the specific national and historical character of the sound. So one could compare the results to black-white reproductions of colour paintings of the great painters. So you can see that I favour colour very much, and lend transparency a lower priority. Even in fugues I think the "search" for transparency often has gone too far.

    In all fairness it must be stressed, that there are organ builders who try to build organs inspired by specific styles (e.g. Aubertin), and they often achieve excellent results, but the price is, that the application of the organ is limited, an unasked for fact in our cost-benefit concerned age. But the most convincing sounding results are IMO achieved when an old organ is conscientiously restored, and the Schnitger/ MartiniKerk/ Groningen instrument contains, as far as I know, more than 50% pipes dating from Bachs time or earlier, and the remainder are made so as to fit into the whole.

    Of course an organ loft can be constructed more ergonomically than usually is the case to day, and I have no objections against modern materials and technique of construction, so far it does not change the sound of the instrument. Historically seen manual tracking has been the rule, and IMO with good reason. I think that equally sensitive "digital manual tracking" is music of the far future. At least digital pianos feels a bit stange under the fingers, as if someone else is playing.

    Concerning Jean Guillou: The Werkprincip is not dead as to old music where changes of manual is prescribed or implied. Maybe it is dead as to future organ compositions. BTW I have heard most of Guillou's Bach recordings. Enough to say that I do not like them. He seems to me to be an obcessive excentrical kind of musician - like Glenn Gould - who wants his playing to differ from everybody else's at any cost. Essentially a rather unmusical argument. Maybe he is a better author than musician.

    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, Mar 10, 2010
  6. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear pe-zulu

    First, Jean Guillou. I don't very much like his options, and I agree that he has affinities with Gould (not stylistic, but, as you say, the desire to play different). Sometimes it works very well, other times not so.

    But I was not claiming that the Werkprinzip should be banned: Buxtehude, Reinken, Lübeck and Bruhns absolutely require it. But for that there are the Schnitgers and other organs.

    I won't go as far as to say that Bach did not have a specific sound in mind: I listen to his music and find it medium-indifferent, I mean, Bach sounds well in a Rückers, in a Taskin, in a Schudi, and even in an Italian harpsichord; the music sounds well in several kinds of clavichord and several kinds of organ. I don't like Bach on the piano because piano sound and technique are so alien to Bach's music as to force the interpreter to play in a certain way (example: the e minor Sarabande, 6th Partita, is impossible to play 'brilliant' on the piano, unless you play it very loud, and that perhaps does not make a lot of sense – or does it? I would certainly try). As for organs it is, I think, more or less the same. While I would not go as far as to suggest that Bach would sound well in a Clicquot and it sounds rather bad on Italian and Iberian organs, I don't feel Bach requires a specific kind of organ. If I would be forced to choose a historical organ, I think I might choose the Trost: strong, bright and deep. As far as I know, Bach found the Silbermann organs in larges churches 'overweak'; he liked an Untersatz 32 and probably a Posaunenbass 32; he like sexquialteras, probably to go with the mixtures; he favoured reeds, but we know not exactly how: a Fagott 16 in the manual for 'new inventions' (rather than a trumpet 8 – which is very telling –, a Shalmey 8). We also know he liked a steady wind and that the sound of the posaunenbass 16' be deep and pure rather than rattling and raucous. As far as I know (or as far as I remember) there are no other particulars.

    So I would say the Trost suits Bach, and perhaps that the smaller Silbermann organs (not the famous Freiberg one, which is too French) suit Bach well.

    The Schintgers are too odd, or too specialized for Bach, mainly for three reasons. First, they are too unstable. You have only to listen to the Norden positiv to agree with me: other than 8+4, everything above sounds trembling and shaky. This also happens in the Martinikerk. The second reason is that mixtures are too high; if you play the big C minor in such a mixture, the chords will sound at about the same octave. Finally, the positivs are too strong and bright.

    That said, it is of course possible to play a convincing bach in such organs.

    Another issue I have with old organs is authenticity. Most of the pipes have been severely tampered with in the 18th, 19th and 20t Centuries. Equal temperament has been introduced; pipes have been either shortened or lengthened; several ranks have been modified. We usually only pay attention to the missing ranks, but the fact is that when you drop or raise a semitone (by either cutting or lengthening the pipes) the voicing changes: when shortened, the tone colour may change from aaa to ööö, or even ëëë; when lengthened, the colour will be more sombre: from aaa to ooo. The patina, too, is a result of tampering, I think: you tinker with the mouth of the pipe, the turbulence will be changed; all this tampering softens the metal, and the sound will have less bite. This is quite obvious in organs I know: when awakened from sleep after 200 or even 300 years, the are out of tune but they chiff very prominently; after restoration (done by understanding people) this chiffing often changes.

    Now I understand one might prefer softer pipes (I don't, I love chiffs), but what is the authentic state? (I don't know, this is not a rhetorical question).

    Of course, Marcussens, Andersens and the like are not at all similar to the Schnitgers on which they were based: the Schnitgers are deep and brilliant (I say the sound in black and red, as in Medieval paintings of hell), and the Marcussens and the like sound more like highly polished aluminium. In part it's the voicing and the wind pressure; in part it's the temperament (equal temperament is harder on harmony, because thirds beat so much they produce the horrible 'white noise' of mixtures, so the mixtures have to have less harmonics (and often less ranks), and so there are less inharmonics [and therefore less beatings] in the plenum). But in part it is a better knowledge of harmonics, too: no one would dream of the following plenum composition: principal 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, Mixture; or even of principal 8 4 2 and mixture that in the treble drops to 6 4 3 2 (6 and 3 for simplicity: 5 1/3 and 1 2/3). The resulting sound is horrible, because every note becomes a chord and the sound is quinty and hard. Nevertheless, this was used in the baroque, and was even liked. It has been stated that the 22 foot quint in the Alkmaar organ is a mistake (it was said to be a mistake in the 18th Century; I don't know if it sounds right when you are there)

    Now I am not condemning old organs: I love then and their defects move me, as Marc so beautifully put it; regarding Iberian music, I usually hate it when played in a modern instrument. But I do think Bach is too universal to be played on old instruments; and, further, as we really don't know in what kind of instrument we ought to play Bach, we really are in the dark. Perhaps his sound ideal was the Wenzelkirche? In which case, you and I have to get used to it...

    So my point, as usual, is this: there are no fast rules. Everything that is musical is permissible, but with care and good taste. Now is a Marcussen musical? That's the question. I think so...

    Too long (southern Europeans are always long: Hall said that we like theory and abstraction too much), but I hope it is not too badly written.

    Thank you both, Marc and pe-zulu, very much for such interesting answers and for embarking, once again, in these discussions. :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2010
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 11, 2010
  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Old and new combined:
    Jürgen Ahrend talks about the organ of the Groningen Martinikerk, with short episodes of Sietze de Vries improvising and playing Böhm:

     
    Marc, Mar 11, 2010
  8. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    I almost entirely agree with that, with a slight add-on though ;): I do think Bach is too universal to be played on old instruments only.

    Hence I have no personal problems with listening to f.i. Ivo Janssen playing Bach on a Steinway, or to Gillian Weir playing on a modern Phelps organ. Or to a saxophone quartet playing the Fugue in G minor BWV 578 (which I heard a couple of months ago in the Martinikerk).

    But I also know that I do have my own preferences. For instance: I have not yet experienced problems whilst listening to the organs of Norden (a.o. 2 MDG-discs with Agnes Luchterhandt & Thiemo Janssen), nor Groningen (from Rübsam to Koopman). And this evening I listened to the so-called Orgelmesse, played by Simon Preston on the Joachim Wagner & Peter Migend organ (1738-1741) in the Trondheim Cathedral. Preston is not my fave organist, but IMO he's good in the Trio Sonatas and also seemingly more involved in the chorales than in the great free works. Apart from that & back to the organ: I like listening to this one by Wagner & Migend. A fine both expressive and cosy humming instrument. :)
     
    Marc, Mar 12, 2010
  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Matteo Messori and the Dritter Theil der Clavier Uebung

    Matteo Messori and the Dritter Theil der Clavier Uebung (Brilliant Classics)

    Interesting recording. Messori is Italian, and as such has a very specific kind of introversion. I almost fully understand his tempo and agogic options (a kind of far away poetics coupled with a very strong need of individual expression through music) but I think many Bach lovers prefer a less personal reading and rather less tempo fluctuations.

    As, for instance, Isoir (another southern European), he is somewhat bipolar: very fast and brisk tempi alternate with the remoteness and somewhat mystic (southern European mysticism) vagueness and misty expression. All that is part of the southern European soul searching, and I really would like to know the opinion of northerners.

    For my taste, the chorales are very poetic – really beautiful – and the organs are wonderfully interesting. He chose the famous Goslar Treutmann, the Walterhausen Trost and the Zschortau Scheibe. All are very interesting, and Messori uses very deep registrations. The plenum always has a 16' (which seems historically accurate) and most often the pedal has a 32'. The effect is quite stunning, chiefly because the Trost has such a strong Posause 32, but also because the Bach plenum really seems too thin when played at 8/16.

    In Dies' sind die heil'ge zehen Geboth he uses the carrilion (a kind of tubular bells) with a reed for the canon (I really wish he had not, but it is historically correct and I understand that he tried to make the canon heard).

    In the terrible De profundis (Aus tieffer Noth) he uses the Posaune 32. I had only listened to this in CD in Koopman's version, and I again think it is well advised: the chorale is clearly heard (well, almost).

    The playing technique seems impeccable, but most young organists are perfect in terms of tecnhique. What is, in my view, noteworthy is that Messori manages to be technically perfect and, at the same time, extremely expressive. He clearly knows this music by heart and loves it.

    Now, I don't believe in God, but I am sensitive to a God image. In this record God is a terrible, distant, powerful, dark, God. An old testament (or a Catholic) God; the Chorales are either the voice of this God or the voice of the sinner in search for meaning and salvation.

    A remarkable recording.

    I only wish the registrations and the date of the recording were given. It is stated that Messori is now recording the Art of Fugue.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Apr 27, 2010
  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Rodrigo, thanks for informing us. I'll keep this one in mind, although I already purchased and gathered an insane amount of Orgelmessen since springtime 2009, and I (still) need some cooling down right now.
    :student:

    Apart from that: I'm trying to listen to other stuff than organ music since about a month. It almost feels like I'm starting a brand new life again! :D

    About this collection (my favourite Bach, if organ is concerned): I've listened to so many different performances .... I don't know which one I favour any more .... interpretation-wise probably Ewald Kooiman in Weingarten (Gabler-organ), although the Coronata sound engineers didn't cope very well with the (difficult) recording situation IMO. Compared to f.i. Isoir's interpretation on the same instrument (Calliope), the Coronata recording is rather sharp and brutal.

    Second problem with the Coronata issue: it's OOP. :(
    Ewald Kooiman died unexpectedly in January 2009, whilst he was planning to record another Bach integral .... this older box set should be rereleased, as a mark of honour!!
     
    Marc, Apr 27, 2010
  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Marc

    I don't know Kooiman's records. I know the Gabler from recordings, but I must say I don't like the instrument very much, perhaps because I always feel the mixtures are impossible to tune well; and also, the principals and flutes are not that beautiful.

    I'm still listening to the Messori records. I think they are truly very good. In fact, the registrations are so beautiful I would recommend the disc just for that.

    Recall the discussion we had before about the importance of being historical. I claimed that Bach sounds not very well in a Schnitger. This recording makes me wonder.

    But it is not only the sound, per se. The interpretations is extremely profound. Indeed, I find myself liking this version better than most of all the others I have.

    (Note: Messori does play what is written; it is nothing like Isoir, for instance, not to mention Jean Guillou).

    Here is a link to Messori's home page.

    http://www.matteomessori.com/discography.html
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 3, 2010
  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Messori

    Dear Rodrigo

    Well, at least you know Kooiman's Dorian T&F. I recall that you found it over-articulated.

    BTW I listened to day to Messori's Clavierübung III for the first time since my first listen when I acquired it nearly two years ago. Nobody can honestly deny the beautiful and balanced sound of the organs he has chosen, nor the excellent recorded sound. That said I am not quite convinced by his interpretation. which in my ears is tedious slow and "sempre tempo elastico". Indeed I find it rather similar (in that respect) to Vartolos Art of Fugue. Can I say, that I find it too romantic, and that I get the impression that Messori is projecting his own emotions into the music instead of searching the innate affects of the music? I do not think that the "Northern" way (e.g. Kooiman) of interpreting Bach is "colder" than the southern way, but it is more introvert, expressing itself on another level, but certainly not without passion, a passion which IMO is more in harmony with the spirit of the music. Bach was after all a northener himself.

    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, May 4, 2010
  13. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Not Kooiman .... but another Dutch musician ....

    I did try to upload some soundclips of Dutch organist Piet Wiersma (1946-2003), playing Bach on the Schnitger/Hinsz/Freytag organ of the Village church in Noordbroek, NL.
    Part of the (now OOP, except for some rare copies) EuroSound series Bach in Groningen, which was left unfinished after Wiersma's sudden death, only hours after he completed the recordings for Volume 7.

    Wiersma was a popular figure in the northern regions of the Netherlands and started with this Bach integral at the end of the 20th century, all works to be played on historic organs in the province of Groningen: therefore the title Bach in Groningen. This initiative was supported by a.o. the Foundation Groningen Orgelland and several companies.

    Personally, I like Wiersma's recordings very much. I would discribe 'his' Bach as spiritually patient.

    I hope all links work well .... I'm not an experienced uploading guy.

    [​IMG]

    BWV 551:
    http://www.mediafire.com/?odn3jmqky2z
    BWV 709:
    http://www.mediafire.com/?jzwnytjjxwo
    BWV 731:
    http://www.mediafire.com/?0zvmmnwonng
    BWV 535:
    http://www.mediafire.com/?0ynkyjynikh
     
    Marc, May 7, 2010
  14. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Many thanks, pe-zulu, for listening to Messori and for your comments.

    I recall the dorian toccata very well. Indeed, as I told you at the time, I found it cold and a little effete, but then it is true that there is a difference in temperament between Southern and Northern Europe. I did not like it because it did not seem to delve deep enough into Bach (as Walcha does, for instance) and seemed to concentrate on the surface (the rhythmic details) of the music.

    That said, while I fully agree that Bach would never have played like Messori, I must also say that southern introversion is no less introverted than the northern variety, but that it seems to be rather different.

    Thinking about the Northern writers that I know and from the Northern composers (excepting Buxtehude, perhaps), there is a contemplating quality in the north, even if it can be extremely intense (as in Ingmar Bergman, for instance) that translates into Self expression in the south.

    Perhaps because of this in the south music is a way of expressing oneself. The fluctuating tempo – sempre tempo elastico – is a very apt description of the way most southerners play. It is not a defect, it is a wanted effect. Good (musically rather questionable) examples of it are Blandine Verlet's Partitas or André Isoir's Art of Fugue and Triosonatas. The idea is that there are strong points in the music, and that these points should be stressed; this stress is done by releasing energy (emotional energy) at these points, which translates into tempo fluctuations. This leads to the tempo elastico, which is a way of stressing the 'turning points' of the music. It is indeed very akin to romantic 'rubato'.

    Therefore, in many ways, southerners play the inner feeling of tension and release and that leads to the notion that they are showing off, which may be the case but often is not.

    I think you (pe-zulu) condemn the Ego surplus that the musician brings into the music. Am I correct? I ask it out of curiosity. I have a very good friend that is German (from Lübeck, no less), but he is not very musical and, either way, he is by now not very German-like in many aspects. I have some German cousins, but they react the way I do, perhaps because they are really mongrels (no disrespect for the word).

    As it is difficult to express the meaning of what I want to say in musical terms alone, I will say that what distinguished both Messori, Vartollo, Isoir or Verlet and, indeed, many other southern musicians is the *quantity* of Ego that goes into the music.

    So might I ask all Northern Europeans that have listened to either Messori or Vartollo and, in general, to southern interpreters, to honestly say what they feel about the music they make? (I know this is a tall order and almost impossible to fulfil; after all Pollini's Beethoven comes from a southerner). I am really interested.

    Please don't take this as a South/North contest. It is nothing of the kind. After all, as most of you know, I love Walcha's Bach and Buxtehude, and music making doesn't get any more German than that... It is just a wish to know and to understand.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 10, 2010
  15. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear MArc

    Many thanks for the contribution. Indeed it is quite enlightening of what I wrote in my previous post.

    I understand the 'spiritually patient' epithet. The Bach links are exceedingly beautiful. As pe-zulu would say, the organist completely lets the music speak for itself. As I said many times before, I very much like that approach and Wiersma totally succeeds in presenting only the music in all its beauty and emotional deepness. This is true, I think, for the chorales but also for the very beautiful g minor PF. This is waht I called the 'contemplative introversion'.

    His Buxtehude I liked less. Perhaps I have a mental representation of Buxtehude that is too passionate. So I think that even if it is well played it is a bit boring. I don't think Buxtehude can be presented quite so humbly: I think Buxtehude requites an effort from the interpreter to make him/herself the central character of the music. It requires what I called the 'Ego tension/release' introversion.

    So tell me if you agree, please.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 10, 2010
  16. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    I'm not sure about to Buxtehude recording of Piet Wiersma you're referring .... unless you're absolutely convinced that BWV 551 is composed by good old Diderik instead of good youthful Sebastian .... :)
    (I know it's part of those more or less 'spurious' works in the Schmieder catalogue.)

    If so, I'd like to say that at least I understand what you mean, without entirely agreeing. I still think that Wiersma's approach is a very good rendering to have.

    About the North-South 'contradictions' between the various musicians: it's a delicate matter, I think. What about the organ performances of f.i. Andrea Marcon or Alessio Corti? Marcon's reading of youthful works of JSB (for the Hänssler edition) is marked with encarving 'Tiefernst', and Corti (in his entire integral) isn't very 'ego releasing' either. And how should we 'classify' Marie-Claire Alain? Or Benjamin Alard?

    Btw: of all 'northern' organists playing Bach, I think Piet Wiersma is rather personal and individual in his interpretation. Compared to f.i. Jacques van Oortmerssen or Bram Beekman I would say that Wiersma is (much?) more intense and emotional .... mmm, as I write this I would like to add: no offense meant to them! Especially Beekman is beautiful and impressive in the chorales .... :)

    In the Dutch HIP-influenced organ scene Wiersma wasn't really considered as 'one of us'. Some even called him (too) romantic .... which I think is (too) exaggerated. Listening to him really gives me the idea that the man truly loved every bar of Bach. And he loved to spread the warm colours of old instruments with excellent registration IMO.

    I might upload some more stuff in the future. Just for listening enjoyment. Comments are very welcome of course!
     
    Marc, May 10, 2010
  17. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    I promised some more .... all taken from OOP issues (although there might still be some copies around on the net):

    Piet Wiersma playing the Lohman organ (1817) of the Reformed Church of Eenrum, NL. His last recordings, only a few hours before his sudden death.
    Fantasia & Fugue in C-minor BWV 562/574
    http://www.mediafire.com/?mmma2yyzdnm

    To compare: Alessio Corti playing the neo-classical Tamburini organ della Chiesa Christiana Protestante in Milano.
    Fantasia & Fugue in C-minor BWV 562/574
    http://www.mediafire.com/?n12jnnzhzlu

    (I myself did the coupling of BWV 562 & 574, the Legrenzi Fugue. Why? Well, simply because I like it that way :) .... but I think that f.i. Corti would agree with that. In his integral, BWV 562 and 574 are separate, yet successive tracks. The same goes for Walter Kraft btw.)

    Two chorale arrangements:
    Bram Beekman playing the famous Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ in Alkmaar.
    Wir glauben all' an einen Gott BWV 740
    http://www.mediafire.com/?lnwmytedtey

    Alessio Corti playing the Tamburini organ della Chiesa di Santa Maria Segreta in Milano.
    Erbarm' dich mein, o Herre Gott BWV 721
    http://www.mediafire.com/?02iwtwz2mkd

    Both these chorales are considered spurious by some scholars. But I love them anyway.
    BWV 740 might be composed or arranged by Johann Ludwig Krebs, one of Bach's most talented pupils.
    From the first time I heard BWV 721, it reminded me of the Erbarme dich, mein Gott aria from the Matthäus-Passion. To me, there's a striking resemblance in the idea of teardrops falling in the bass.

    If the links aren't working or creating problems, please let me know.
     
    Marc, May 10, 2010
  18. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear Marc

    Rereading my post and noticing my mistake I would like to be able to say that I had had too much to drink when I wrote the post. But no, I was plain sober (I hardly ever drink). Was I tired?

    Because:
    Toscanini versus Furtwängler;
    Casals versus Bylsma
    MC Alain versus Leonhardt
    Rousset versus Koopman

    and many others

    I was trying to make sense of the fact that pe-zulu did not like the Messori records, and I do. And in the process, in the middle of an exhausting period of thinking about the philogenetic origin of the I and the Me, I pressed these concepts into the music.

    Thank you for all the uploading. I do not know how to do it (I am becoming a computer idiot very fast; I don't even know how to record a CD even if I follow the instructions correctly). But if you know of any simple way (I use a Mac), please let me know and I'll try and post some interesting stuff.

    I'll listen and then report.

    My schizophrenic post had, at the very least, the merit of your downloads! Many thanks :)
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 11, 2010
  19. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Gosh, Rodrigo, you're harsh towards yourself!

    :banghead:

    Schizophrenic? :rolleyes:

    You know, I've been watching some sports on the telly lately: cycling. The Giro d'Italia was in the Netherlands and I love this sport.
    (At school I was the only one who liked to give the dreaded obligatory lecture, because it gave me the chance to blabber an entire hour about the history of the Tour de France. :D)

    During the last days, almost everyone (especially the Dutch sportsmen, both retired and still active) spoke on the telly with warmth about this event, and about the emotional, warm, meditarranean attitude of the Italians. Apparently they also experienced a difference between north and south.

    I think the differences aren't that large in reality. Deep down inside the Vikings and Germans are as emotional as the Meditarraneans. But the latter are maybe more extravert, and the first groups needs a couple of drinks to get loose. You know those dreaded Vikings: don't give them too much beer!
    :beer:
    :D

    If such a silent sober Viking or German is entering a cold church, climbing up the stairs and beginning to play the organ, then his soul opens and he can be as emotional as your 'average' Italian or Spaniard in the works.

    To make the last expression more clear, here's a link with a wink:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Spaniard_in_the_Works

    Cheer up!
     
    Marc, May 11, 2010
  20. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Northern / Southern

    Dear Rodrigo and Marc

    To illustrate my point of view I have uploaded some examples of keyboard music by Bach and Böhm. The recordings I have chosen represent how I think these works ideally should be played. In order not to bias you I shall withold the information about who is playing until you have told me how you value the style of interpretation. Rodrigo will probably think that it is too introvert and "cold".
    The files are large (wav), and downloading takes some time, but you will be able to burn them to a CDR and listen to them via your HIFI gear in a decent SQ.


    1) Böhm Preude, Fugue and Postlude g-minor

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/3x3tyrjn2zv/01 - Ukendt titel - Ukendt kunstner.wav


    2) Bach Fantasia a-minor

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/i4mcxgmi2jo/02 - Ukendt titel - Ukendt kunstner.wav


    3) Bach Toccata e-minor

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/znn5em4tvua/03 - Ukendt titel - Ukendt kunstner.wav


    4) Böhm Prelude, Fugue and Postlude g-minor

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/tdmdtrjr1ry/01 - Ukendt titel - Ukendt kunstner.wav


    5) Bach Prelude and Fugue g-minor

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/cjdqy4mly52/02 - Ukendt titel - Ukendt kunstner.wav
     
    pe-zulu, May 12, 2010
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