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Peter Clark

Wolfgang Rubsam On Cd

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I was recently given a copy of Wolfgang Rubsam playing Bach on a Naxos issue - "The Great Organ Works" (catalogue 8.553859). I wonder if any others have heard it because I frankly found this a very ponderous set of performances, many of the movements much slower than I had heard before (the first section of the 552 fugue, the Pasacaglia 592 for example) and an almost constant use of 16' on manuals which made for a somewhat monotonous (no pun!) account. He seems to have a prestigious position in the States - have any other members heard this CD? If so, what is your opinion?

 

Best as ever

 

Peter

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I was recently given a copy of Wolfgang Rubsam playing Bach on a Naxos issue - "The Great Organ Works" (catalogue 8.553859). I wonder if any others have heard it because I frankly found this a very ponderous set of performances, many of the movements much slower than I had heard before (the first section of the 552 fugue, the Pasacaglia 592 for example) and an almost constant use of 16' on manuals which made for a somewhat monotonous (no pun!) account. He seems to have a prestigious position in the States - have any other members heard this CD? If so, what is your opinion?

Very disappointing; it's one of the few CDs that I've taken to a charity shop rather than keep.

 

Paul

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Very disappointing; it's one of the few CDs that I've taken to a charity shop rather than keep.

 

Paul

 

Back in the good old days of Wednesdays at 5.55 at the RFH I heard Rübsam play a whole Bach programme from memory. I was bowled over by his performance of the P & F in B minor - a wonderfully magisterial sense of inevitability about the whole thing.

 

A few years later at the ICO in Cambridge in 1987, I actually walked out of his recital at Trinity because of his maddeningly idiosyncratic rubato which completely ruined the pulse and rhytmn of his playing. I find his Naxos CDs just as unbearable.

 

However, I do like his Rheinberger recordings on the same label - he really plays 'with balls', for want of a better expression, which is the only way to make Rheinberger come to life. The remarkably gutsy Sauer/Rieger organ at Fulda Dom helps as well.

 

Incidentally, he's been awarded a degree in hairdressing and not just on account of his amazing en chamade moustachios - apparently he's a fully qualified practitioner.

 

JS

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Incidentally, he's been awarded a degree in hairdressing and not just on account of his amazing en chamade moustachios - apparently he's a fully qualified practitioner.

 

JS

 

I think that I may have asked this question before, but I cannot now track the link. Does anyone happen to have a copy of the solo organ CD featuring Wolfgang Rubsam playing an organ somewhere, the cover of which photographically depicts said Herr Rubsam bedecked in a DJ and sitting astride the organ bench? It is not just that his moustache grows into some luxuriant side-burns; it is not that his goatee is precisely trimmed; it is not even that his hair, moustache and goatee are dyed piebald black and blond - in alternate swatches. it is that the whole composition bestows upon him the air of a gay circus ring-master, who has recently begun experimenting with controlled substances.

 

Sod the musical interpretation - this cover will entertain friends and family for hours at dinner-parties....

;)

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A few years later at the ICO in Cambridge in 1987, I actually walked out of his recital at Trinity because of his maddeningly idiosyncratic rubato which completely ruined the pulse and rhytmn of his playing. I find his Naxos CDs just as unbearable.

 

Hear, hear. I've never heard him live, but the constant emphasis on each and every cadence is wearing in the extreme. I've got one of his Naxos recordings - no more, thank you!

 

Regards to all

 

John

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I am rather inclined to agree with all of these comments.

 

I heard and met Wolfgang Rubsam when he first came to this country. It was at the time of the RFH recital referred to above (and when, incidentally, he had crew cut black hair and was clean shaven). This would have been in around 1979.

 

He gave two warm up recitals, all Bach, at St Mary's Woodford.

 

His playing then was just out of this world, likewise, his early recordings of Bach on Phillips. The playing was highly individual, although it would be putting the argument too high to call it mannered.

 

However, I have recently heard him play Buxtehude and Rheinerger on Naxos and found the extraordinary hiatus at every phrase - end completely disrupted the musical flow and line.

 

I do wonder why this is.

 

Is it some sort of historical performance practice like 'notes ineqales' that has not been discovered before ? If so, I have never seen any authentic corroboration for the style (although I am not an expert on these things).

 

Is it just that, with age and the call for novelty, some performers seek out more eccentric practices to make their performances stand out in an over - crowded market ? Wolfgang Rubsam is certainly not the only performer who raises this question for me.

 

Either way, it seems to me that pursuing such an approach to a degree that it forces the music beyond what is pleasurable, musical or aesthetic is a signal lack of judgement. Glenn Gould, for example, was utterly eccentric in his tempi in Bach recordings, but the musicality of the argument carries all before it.

 

M

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Like other contributors to this discussion, I'm not too enthusiastic about his Naxos Bach cycle.

 

One recording of his that I can recommend, however, is a recital at the Stahlhut/Jann organ in Dudelange (Luxemburg), ref. IFO 00 115. In particular, I find both Reubke's Sonata and Alain's Trois Danses to be absolutely electrifying.

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I don't know, there is something about his Naxos-Bach recordings that I liked instantly. Yes, he often plays very slowly, with deliberate accents, and treats rhythm and pace quite generously; and yes, his "Art of Fugue" recording, taken at the large Silbermann in Freiberg, has some strange registrations. (On the other hand, his Trio Sonatas from Groningen I consider quite fine.)

 

But in Rubsam's playing there is a sense of letting the instrument sound freely, of having it unfold its power and depth. That quality I like, and miss in many other Players.

 

There are Bach players who have such a sportive rhythm that every organ sounds the same under their hands and feet. Some consider this virtuosity or constraint, but the result often is lacking colour, even boringly so. Try and play BWV 548 with a decisive heaviness in the first pedal note of the ritornello, and yes, do pull that 32-foot. If done right, the music will take on a sense of grave swinging, which I for one find very fitting.

 

"Gravitaet" was something Bach was after especially, so I believe the use of 16-foot and 32-foot sound is not only allowed but required in many instances, e. g. in BWV 552, 546, the Passacaglia (if not throughout), and in most of the other large Preludes, even in the fugues. Why not make Bach -- and your organ -- sound grand? The organ was then, and still is, the definitive instrument for a grand sound. (And we're not talking trio sonatas here!)

 

Best,

Friedrich

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How here's a thing. I cannot comment on Rübsam's Bach since I have not heard it, but my initial reaction on acquiring his Rheinberger CDs was very negative - as I said with my characteristic restraint here.

 

However, I was intrigued to find that with repeated listening I came to understand his approach. You might say he interprets the music for all it's worth - and then some. I still cannot say that I like it, but I would no longer dismiss it as unmusical. If you can get onto his wavelength it begins to make sense.

 

I do agree with Friedrich about "big" Bach. Though maybe not chez Rübsam.

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I think that I may have asked this question before, but I cannot now track the link. Does anyone happen to have a copy of the solo organ CD featuring Wolfgang Rubsam playing an organ somewhere, the cover of which photographically depicts said Herr Rubsam bedecked in a DJ and sitting astride the organ bench? It is not just that his moustache grows into some luxuriant side-burns; it is not that his goatee is precisely trimmed; it is not even that his hair, moustache and goatee are dyed piebald black and blond - in alternate swatches. it is that the whole composition bestows upon him the air of a gay circus ring-master, who has recently begun experimenting with controlled substances.

 

Sod the musical interpretation - this cover will entertain friends and family for hours at dinner-parties....

:)

Want a haircut? Or a moostache? Check out Wolfs Barber Shop

 

Mine's a handlebar! :lol:

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