The Organ Music of Bach

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

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    pe-zulu, May 12, 2010
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear pe-zulu

    I'm downloading them. Thanks.
    But just to be precise, introverted and cold are not the same thing. Leonhardt is both introverted and 'uncold'; Walcha is introverted and 'not very hot'; Alain is introverted and 'human'; Koopman's way of playing I would say is extrovert, although the person is introverted. And you can an extrovert and quite cold, although I don't know any example in music.

    The typical extrovert in music is, for me, Leonard Bernstein.

    I'll report asap.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2010
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 12, 2010
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Agreed. This was the reason why I put quotation signs around "cold".
     
    pe-zulu, May 12, 2010
  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Ha!
    OK, but it's not easy to find, compared to many others. Maybe it's because a small label? Maybe JPC got hold of some remnants? I asked in the local music shops here to no avail. And there are no copies at f.i. Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, and the only copy on Amazon.de (and Amazon.fr) is very expensive.

    Two months ago there were 2 copies still available at Amazon.de .... I purchased the other one (thanx to your advice) for around € 100 less than the JPC-price. :cool:
    The discs were in good condition, but the box was covered in dust and the disc-sleeves were turned yellow. Apparently it was dug from some far away store. :D

    About the Ukendt downloads: this is a crazy world. After months of struggling I'm finally able to upload files at Megafire, but now I'm getting all kinds of troubles with downloading, varying from everlasting 'preparing download link' messages to all kinds of JavaScript errors. :confused:
     
    Marc, May 12, 2010
  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Yes, I am hard on myself. But that's a long story and it is actually related to the question in hand.

    ———Off musical topic: you may jump it

    I agree that Mediterraneans and Vikings are the same people fundamentally: it's just a question of light, probably, but also some interesting cultural differences. I mean, the emotions are the same, and I agree it is a question of beer or of organ :)

    There are some difference, whoever, in the way emotion is expressed.

    The main difference, as I see it (and I might be wrong) is that in the South the Ego is freer to express itself, and in the North it is more often 'canalized' into a more coded system. Thus Southerners are often said to be more emotional and Northerners 'colder' (which, I think, is not true). Showing emotion is OK (up to certain limits).

    There is a difference in the attention you are supposed to pay to the other people: in the South you must be friendly (not appear, but actually be) with someone that works with you, and you cannot just tell a person 'Sorry, I'm busy right now, come back later' when that person starts to talk about something that is important to her. In fact, when this happens, you have to postpone work (this happened to me no longer than today!). Also, as in Poland, complaining is a national hobby, and you have to listen to people complaining and take an interest in it.

    But then, and this may seem paradoxical, there is the 'opposite' difference in the amount of intimacy, in the sense that, in the Mediterranean, intimacy is far more fiercely defended than in the North (for instance, sex is a far more intimate thing in the South, and that is not only because of Religion).

    Therefore I do not think Mediterraneans are more extrovert. They may seem so, but they are extremely secretive, they seldom open their hearts to others unless they consider them very close friends (and even then this is extremely rare; as in the North, wine and organs help a lot).

    As an example of this, my Northerner friends here in Portugal always say that the Portuguese are devilishly reserved, that it is extremely difficult to make friends with them, and that they are very kind but inscrutable. A person's real emotions are his or her own, people will not put them to words publicly (it is considered obscene) but many people keep diaries. So there is a very real difference between the inner emotion and the expressed emotion.

    Another example, although literary, is the recent book Nachtzug nach Lissabon, by Pascal Mercier. While the book has a lot of inaccuracies, the main character is the typical highly cultured and freethinking Portuguese (of course, not all Portuguese people are highly cultured and freethinking; but then that is, unfortunately, a general trait).

    Of course I am generalizing and these things are difficult to measure. There are tests, but they address perhaps 'open apparent sociability' rather than 'introspection', that is, the degree in which one examines and even represses oneself.

    Another unexpected difference is that Southerners usually 'introspect other people', I mean, all kinds of non verbal cues are routinely interpreted as emotions, representations and beliefs. This is not because Southerners gesticulate a lot (indeed, gestures are, mostly, codified culturally and only Italians gesticulate a lot, the gesture usually having a precise meaning – this has indeed been objectively studied), but is part of a very dense (and somewhat oppressive) interpersonal climate in the South.

    ———End of 'offtopicness'

    Now for the music. I would never be able to say who is the Southerner and the Northerner in the Corti example. I would venture to say that Corti seems to be from a younger generation of players than Wiersma, but that is about all. Beekman, by the example given, seems objective but very warm. So... I was probably wrong. I liked Wiersma chiefly in the chorales, but the Fantasia was marvellously terse, expressive, and poignant. The fugue I did not like so much (see below). Corti's interpretations are very poetical, too. I did like his Legrenzi fugue a little better, because it had more flow, but that is not to say that I did not like Wiersma's. (On quite a different note: it is impressive to have Wiersma's last musical thoughts; moving and disturbing).

    Concerning now pe-zulu's delightful mysteries :)

    I liked all the interpretations you 'posted'. I would never dream of calling them cold. None of them are cold, and they are all introverted (but then are there any extrovert baroque organists?)

    Piecewise:
    Bach's PF g minor. Beautiful interpretation, expressive and emotional. The only thing I did not like (but it is a question of personal preference) is that I found the fugue too articulated, as in Wiersma's Legrenzi fugue. Although I understand that the theme itself suggests a clear articulation, I would rather have a somewhat more flowing, more legato and with more 'elastic tempo'. But then the elastic tempo I am thinking about is Walcha's who, in this fugue is, I think, unbeaten.

    Bach's fantasia in a is certainly well played, passionately enough although I find the work itself impossibly boring (a kind of harmonic and fingering exercise).

    Bohm's PFP. I never really liked the work on the organ. But both interpretations are very good. I would say that the organ interpretation in spite of the beauty of the interpretation, does not manage to convey the bouncing of the fugue. But this really has only to do with the instrument. The theme, I suggest, is as if 'thrown'; I think the organ does not do justice to that.
    This is precisely what the harpsichord version manages. Not only is the praeludium magnificently rendered through the harpsichord, but the fugue manages to capture the beautiful gesture.
    It reminded me of the memory I have of the first interpretation I ever listened of that piece. I only listened to it for a short period, but it struck me as plain marvellous. It was by, I think, Elizabeth de la Porte and is, I think, unavailable (pe-zulu, who knows everything about recordings, may know).

    But really, all the interpretations are superb, I don't find them cold at all. They are all sparing and very precise, but that is not a defect, it is an aesthetic choice that does not hinder emotion. But it is true that I tolerate and even like some imprecision and overall mist, which those versions seem to shun.

    I have more to say on this, but I don't want to commit another huge post (rereading: too late!).

    This thread is wonderful. It also proves the value of error: to correct my rubbish you have both produced beautiful evidence!

    :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2010
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 12, 2010
  6. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Interesting stuff to read, Rodrigo. But, since I'm relaxing right now and listening to .... pop muzik :)o) my mind isn't sharpened enough for a 'decent' reaction. ;)

    About Wiersma: I understand your opinions about the BWV 562/574: the Fantasia impresses me more than the Fugue. Mind you, though both were recorded on the same day, BWV 562 are his definite final thoughts. I myself merged them together.

    Glad to be of any help! :D
     
    Marc, May 13, 2010
  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Dear Rodrigo
    So your post confirms my view that the Northerners and the Southerners mainly differ on the surface, and only in a general sense.

    The Bach/Böhm examples are in fact played by a Southener (Lorenzo Ghielmi) and I agree with you, that the interpretation is rather introvert and very expressive, but IMO in a refreshing measured and scholary way. Both Ghielmi (the Bach/Böhm examples) and Vartolo (AoF) offer introvert interpretations, but the difference is, that while Ghielmi's expression is more general (and also foreseeable to someone knowing the style), Vartolo's is more "private"- bordering the state, where it looses general interest becoming a kind of interpretation where the musician often seems to loose spiritual control, and everything can happen in the holy name of spontaneity (who think of Blandine Verlet now?). This kind of interpretation is also in great contrast to Wolfgang Rübsam's approach in his second integral (for Naxos). His playing is on the contrary hypercontrolled and almost too analytical for practical listening. And where Rübsam demonstrates the connection and context of the elements of the music and uses the time necessary for this, Vartolo just drift along. IMO Vartolo is more at home in his Frescobaldi recordings, music which is more suited to his style.
     
    pe-zulu, May 15, 2010
  8. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Marc, did you ever succed in downloading these Ghielmi recordings. If you did not, we must use plan B.
     
    pe-zulu, May 16, 2010
  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Dear pe-zulu

    So you are telling me that all the uploads were by Ghielmi?
    While I generally agree that I was mistaken in the difference between North and South (and I'll add more examples: in terms of the difference I made previously, Harnoncourt seems a Southerner; so does Leonhardt. Lena Jakobsen simply looks un musical, to me. Kempft sounds like a Southerner, again. Reihardt Göbel is, again, untypical, Biondi is definitely Southern, and Pinnock is definitely English!

    But I was wrong. The reason for that being that great musicians defy any classification because the are, necessarily, very personal. Take Walcha. Now Walcha always reminded me of Bauhaus, but then it is a humanized Bauhaus, quite alien to the original spirit.

    I don't have as many records as you (lucky you!) and, what is more, I tried to upload some pieces and failed (I'll give it another try when I have the time).

    Nevertheless, Messori is not, in my view (I don't know Vartollo's Art of Fugue), disorganized or too private (but isn't 'privacy' introversion?). I can understand every stressing, every change in tempo; what is more, the slowness also makes sense to me.

    That said, Rübsam is, as you say, too analytic and also too personal to 'practical listening', and I don't exactly understand why you like his more recent interpretations: his Passacaglia is, for me, unlistenable; the Art of Fugue is interesting, but, again, it defies our notions of time.

    If you want we may talk about why, and about what I think you like in 'controlled' interpretations, because I think I have an idea.

    But rest assured: I like them, too. For instance, I find Maria João Pires' Chopin almost obscene, even if I deeply respect the courage of so much personal exposure. This is also why I cannot listen to Berstein's interpretations and, indeed, that is why I usually detest Mahler and, when I was a boy, I was deeply shocked by ... Gustav Leonhardt.

    As I say, if you are interested and if I get the time, I may post an hypothesis on your taste. I hope you won't consider this intrusive or cocky on my part: I just want to understand different points of view.

    If you'd like to download other pieces, you and Marc will make this the very best thread we had!

    A deep thank you to you both.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, May 16, 2010
  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    I tried it about four times to no avail. Sometimes Java acts funny on my PC.

    But, if it is a.o. disc Böhm & Bach: works for organ, WDR production Stradivarius STR 33559, there might be plan C = Dutch library, too. :)

    This also goes for the harpsichord/clavichord disc Ãœber J.S. Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke, labelno. Winter & Winter 910 105-2.

    I have to return some other discs next week, and then I'll be able to order these.
     
    Marc, May 16, 2010
  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Re Rodrigo:
    I entirely agree with you about Rübsam's second attempt at the Passacaglia. I listened to it three times and then gave up. :rolleyes:

    But I love Mahler (hope you'll forgive me for that), and even though I wouldn't have Lenny each and every day, his interpretations can really move me. AFAIK, his first Mahler integral was less 'over the top' (recorded in the sixties).

    Mahler deeply admired Bach btw, and his friends loved him to play the Grandmaster at the piano.
     
    Marc, May 16, 2010
  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Zeer goed ontdekt, Marc . :) Het is juist deze twee.
    Laten we dus wachten, maar zeg mij wanneer dit niet lukt.
     
    pe-zulu, May 17, 2010
  13. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    This will certainly interest me, so feel free to write what you think.
     
    pe-zulu, May 17, 2010
  14. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    :D

    Not bad.
    Het zijn precies deze twee. (Es sind genau diese zwei; [plural].)

    To include other members in this very interesting conversation, too, I'll continue in plain English. (Also I'm afraid to post some non-Vikingish Danish, too.) :)
     
    Marc, May 17, 2010
  15. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    A controlled interpretation is in my opinion a performance in which the performer displays control of the relevant performance practice as well as full technical control, but even displays a high degree of "expressive" control in order not to "overload" the music, which in my opinion is just as bad as playing in a cold and inexpressive manner. The expressive bursts must be put into an adequate musical context. I suppose that we are talking first and foremost about playing Bach, and I can not say, that I prefer interpretations which are controlled in every small detail, - of course there must be room for some liberty, since a completely foreseeable interpretation may easily appear boring in the long run. But there is a huge difference between a recording and a live recital in this respect. I can accept a relatively spontaneous interpretation at a live recital, maybe governed by the "interplay" between artist and audience, whereas a recording must be more controlled in order to stand repeated listening. There is less room for spontaneity in a recording, since the efffect of any recordings possible spontaneous elements is weakened with repeted listening. Maybe they may even begin to appear mannered, when you know them too well.
     
    pe-zulu, May 17, 2010
  16. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2010
    Marc, May 23, 2010
  17. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    Mystery Dorian

    Having uploaded a recording of the Dorian T & F my favorite Bach organ work, I would very much like to know, if this is a Northener or a Southener playing. Introvert or extrovert? Expressive or superficial. Controlled or not? And who is playing (a well known name for sure) and what is the name of the well known organ builder?

    Toccata:
    http://www.mediafire.com/file/tynmwmdcomh/28 -

    Fuga:
    http://www.mediafire.com/file/25xy4w4mwrm/29 -
     
    pe-zulu, May 24, 2010
  18. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    The idea of count Dracula playing Bach at night in his huge castle fascinates me...
    which recording best recaptures the image of Dracula playing Bach?
     
    bat, May 27, 2010
  19. Rodrigo de Sá

    Marc

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    IMO, questions like these should be taken very seriously.

    First suggestion: BWV 542 (Fantasia part). Also played by ze lunatic Dreyfus ("he's out of his mind, that's what he's out of") in ze movie The Pink Panther strikes again.
    Maybe the Michel Chapuis recording (part 5 of his integral for Valois), played at the Schnitger organ in Zwolle, will do. Sound quality isn't all that good: rather shrill, which makes it even better for your purpose.

    :JOEL:

    Second suggestion: Thiemo Janssen playing BWV 565 on the Schnitger organ in Norden. Labelno.: MDG 906 1502-6. Especially Janssen's Toccata-playing has got those bat-fluttering qualities.
     
    Marc, May 27, 2010
  20. Rodrigo de Sá

    pe-zulu

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    I vote for Ton Koopman, on the first volune of his 6 CD Novalis set, playing BWV 565 and 542 on the Müller organ of Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.
     
    pe-zulu, May 28, 2010
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