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I like the Stamm videos at Waltershausen. Is it just me or does he sometimes look a bit tense and uncomfortable on that organ? Before we start going on about historic organ consoles not being comfortable to play or "ergonomic", just watch someone like Jacques van Oortmersson play at the Waalse Kerk or Pieter van Dyke play at Alkmaar - both similarly historic organ consoles - but those two look very comfortable and graceful when they play, without a hint of tension and the resulting playing is very different in its character.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnv8gjbx-0Q

Yes, lovely playing and a very relaxed speed.

 

What's the thinking behind the little pauses that many organists impose on the music of Bach (e.g. here, after the first quaver of bar 4? I can't imagine a group of instrumentalists doing it.) I find the recordings of Rubsam make me feel a bit queasy. Bring back Walcha! (By the way, has anyone got that really cheap boxed set of Walcha's recordings - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000E6U...;pf_rd_i=468294. Is the sound too bad or is it worth buying?)

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By the way, has anyone got that really cheap boxed set of Walcha's recordings - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000E6U...;pf_rd_i=468294. Is the sound too bad or is it worth buying?)

 

I have these, incidentally bought from Ebay for 1/2 the Amazon price, but don't much play them. The playing is fine, the recording quality is fine, but I just don't like the sound. It may or may not be "authentic", it matters not to me, but it grates on my ears. I'd much prefer to hear the music played on something like the instrument in Birmingham Town Hall...

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Yes, lovely playing and a very relaxed speed.

 

What's the thinking behind the little pauses that many organists impose on the music of Bach (e.g. here, after the first quaver of bar 4? I can't imagine a group of instrumentalists doing it.) I find the recordings of Rubsam make me feel a bit queasy. Bring back Walcha! (By the way, has anyone got that really cheap boxed set of Walcha's recordings - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000E6U...;pf_rd_i=468294. Is the sound too bad or is it worth buying?)

I think the Walcha recordings are a repackaged version of a set I have had for a few years. They are from the original "Archiv" recordings issued in the 1950s on LP which were responsible for teaching me a great deal about the music when I was in my teens. They are very scholarly and precise and I still find them a good point of reference. The recording quality is fine on my copies, and stand the test of time very well considering that they are 60 years old.

 

I am glad you raised the point about the short pauses, or hesitations, which equally make me feel uncomfortable.

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Pardon?

 

I mean: from a strict historical point of view, the Van Hagerbeer-Franz-Caspar Schnitger organ of Alkmaar,

more, in the state it was during H. Walcha's recordings, is exactly as far from the organs

Bach played as the one in Birmingham's Town Hall.

 

Bach never went in the Netherlands, he did not know the dutch style. He lived 800 kilometres away.

When he spent some time in the north, he knew an organ Schnitger said "it was just good for the scrapyard".

Later, he played a Schnitger once or twice; 99,999% of the time, he played thuringian and saxon organs,

thus, instruments that are as different from Alkmaar as a Willis or a Walcker can be. (Indeed: the Mixtures

in the Walcker organ of Riga Cathedral are closer to Trost's ones than Alkmaar's).

 

The craze for dutch organs for Bach I cannot understand as an historian. Rather, it is the fact the dutch

had kept ancient organs that attracted much players there, because anything "baroque" would do better

than the instruments they had at home.

So far, so good; good recordings resulted, no doubt. Bach sounds exactly as well on a Walcker: beautiful,

but not authentic ! any "truth" there is an invented one.

 

Pierre

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Walcha made two recordings of the organ works of Bach (in both cases omitting most of the miscellaneous CPs and the transcriptions); the first in mono, mainly at the Cappel Schnitger, the second in stereo, mainly in Strasbourg (Silberman style). Both are available in boxes at present, the first for around £10, with no notes whatever, the second for around £60* (this includes the Art of Fugue, which was the very first stereo recording that DG ever made, though not the first they released).

 

The performances on the two sets are amazingly consistent, but the sound of the stereo set is generally better, as you'd expect. I quite like them, but they are not my favourite, being a little on the stolid side.

 

Paul

 

* compare the prices of this set on amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr and amazon.de - you'll see why I bought it from the last!

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"Erbam dich...", J-S Bach, by Gehrard Weinberger on the Treutmann organ (1737)

of Grauhof (D):

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovFjxHj7PxE...player_embedded

 

The organ is a northern one, but with much central and eastern Germany influencies

(No "Werkprinzip", but an Hinterwerk, a fair amount of foundation stops including

Gambas etc).

 

See here about the Treutmann organ:

 

http://www.marktplatz-goslar.de/orgel/orgeleng.html

 

Pierre

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"I mean: from a strict historical point of view, the Van Hagerbeer-Franz-Caspar Schnitger organ of Alkmaar,

more, in the state it was during H. Walcha's recordings, is exactly as far from the organs

Bach played as the one in Birmingham's Town Hall.....So far, so good; good recordings resulted, no doubt. Bach sounds exactly as well on a Walcker: beautiful, but not authentic ! any "truth" there is an invented one."

 

Well I almost agree except for one thing. The playing techniques associated with the Bach area in the Bach period are far closer to the playing techniques associated with Alkmaar, than those associated with a Walcker organ (assuming a reasonably late one) or with the Willis III/(sometime) Hill organ at Birmingham Town Hall. The Dutch organs at the very least provide a parallel narrative (illustrated by how well the Kauffman registrations from 1733 sound in Alkmaar!) which is not totally without musical relevance for Bach, even if the historical ties are tenuous.

 

Bazuin

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"There is of course a common period, also a comparable technology.

This said, the central german organs had heavier actions -and this

was a concern for J-S Bach- than the northern ones, for obvious reasons!"

 

This is not true for Holland! Alkmaar/Amsterdam Oude Kerk (in fact, name your favourite with its original action) are all at least as heavy as Freiberg Dom! Altenburg is light by comparison (and rougher!). I wonder if our perceptions of Northern German actions have been coloured by the preferences of Jurgen Ahrend who restored most of those organs?

 

Bazuin

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"There is of course a common period, also a comparable technology.

This said, the central german organs had heavier actions -and this

was a concern for J-S Bach- than the northern ones, for obvious reasons!"

 

This is not true for Holland! Alkmaar/Amsterdam Oude Kerk (in fact, name your favourite with its original action) are all at least as heavy as Freiberg Dom! Altenburg is light by comparison (and rougher!). I wonder if our perceptions of Northern German actions have been coloured by the preferences of Jurgen Ahrend who restored most of those organs?

 

Bazuin

 

Well, maybe !

 

Pierre

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Over the past few days I have made a determined effort to listen to and watch a number of the Youtube links that members have provided recently. What has struck me particularly is how when continental organists play Bach they seem to eschew the excessively fast tempi and constant over-detached playing that so many younger English organists seem to employ. I'm not saying for one minute that one should play Bach with the sort of legato one would use for Franck - of course not - but I do wonder whether our friends on the continent have got the right balance and we have gone over the top.

 

Malcolm

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I'm sure we have, Malcolm. I've been complaining about fast Bach for years. It's not confined to organists; I find the cantatas, orchestral music and instrumental music all being taken faster nowadays than when I was young (though the trend was well under way, even then). I rather think the only players who have not speeded up are the pianists and harpsichordists - but that's only because they always did play Bach as fast as they could.

 

There are those who might accuse me of being a fine one to talk since I have to admit that there are some pieces that I take quite fast, but in general I do not like speeds that compromise Bach's stature. Nothing pains me more than Bach's carefully judged harmonic rhetoric being thrown to the winds by glib speed merchants who give the impression of never having considered anything deeper than the rhythm and energy of the piece. It is usual for the protagonists to appeal to the music's "life", as if anything slower than bouncy is bound to send the listener to sleep. The trouble is, the more you get used to hearing fast speeds, the more slower ones will sound too slow. Anyone for Schweitzer? I doubt any of us would want to go back to those speeds, but I do sometimes wonder whether we haven't lost the knack of recognising life in slower speeds when it's there. It's not a question of wallowing in anything; it's just a matter of getting the balance right. My yardstick for speed is the old cantata recordings of Harnoncourt. For all the dodgy tuning (it was the early days of period instrument performances) and sledge-hammer accents, his basic approach struck a good balance between liveliness and profundity - for me.

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Here we are, how interesting are those two last postings.

 

There is indeed a questionning about Bach these last years, and this is,

among others things, due to the rediscovery of the central european

baroque organs and their features which are often the exact opposite

to the neo-baroque concepts. This I already have enough explained

here and elsewhere.

 

Maybe it would be interesting to think of Bach, his music, and his time,

as transitionnal; a transition between Buxtehude and Mozart, from

the "contrapuntal" to the "galant" styles; a transition between european

schools -normal for a "central" area: Italy, France, northern Europe; and

a transition organ, as precisely this central european baroque organ is

the direct origin of the romantic organ.

 

Pierre

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Guest Roffensis
Another finding featuring the Gloucester cathedral organ

as Herbert Howells knew it with an extract from Elgar Sonata:

 

 

 

Pierre

 

Yes. Beautifully played. Even the old organ sounds quite decent on that recording!

 

R

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.....Recorded with a very special organ: it contains pipes from

Michael Engler!!!!

 

Pierre

 

 

===============================

 

 

It's so long ago, I do not recall all the detail I discovered about the very large instrument at St Moritz, Olomouc.

 

I do recall a few things. The massive 5-manual console, which has all the attractiveness of a 1960's Skoda Octavia, dates from the re-build and enlargement by Rieger-Kloss in 1959. If I recall correctly, this was in the days when the company was under communist state ownership and kept very busy, with some very large organs built throughout the former Czechoslovakia, prior to the split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I also cannot recall whether, at the time, Glatter-Glotz was still involved with the company.

 

However, the work of the company was certainly tonally impressive.

 

At Olomouc, a fine, historic organ was already in place, and mercifully, it was left in situ in the West Gallery, complete with the absolutely magnificent baroque casework. This instrument is one of perhaps three surviving instruments by the master organ-builder Michael Engler, and dates from 1745.

 

From what I have read about this instrument, it seems that the tracker-action, 3-manual, Michael Engler instrument was left intact, with the traditional short-octave compasses in place, including the pedal-organ.

 

Presumably, as the romanticism of Dvorak, Smetana, Suk, and the more modern styles of Janacek and Martinu had influenced two or three generations, an organ like the 1745 Engler must have seemed terribly old-hat. In Praha (Prague), the charismatic organist/composer Wiedermann had successfully championed the idea of turning the old baroque organ at

St James Cathedral, into a romantic instrument suited to his highly chromatic, expressive, virtuosic and improvisatory style of playing. Wiedermann certainly made the organ very popular, with regular radio broadcasts from St James,Cathedral, but I suspect that he would have had more regard for Dvorak than Bach, due to the limitations of the instrument and the inevitable short-octaves. (Bach was certainly played at St James' Cathedral by the Czech organist and composer, Seger, who re-arranged Bach's works in order to be able to play them). The Baroque tradition continued long after Bach's death, and even ran concurrent with the Classical style. (Possibly a case of "old" church music style and the more modern secular style in the opera houses?) Both Bach and Mozart travelled to the former Czechoslovakia.

 

At Olomouc, (a rather more academic and less cosmopolitan city), it appears that older traditions were respected, and when the time came to "romaticise" the organ at St Moritz, it was done in quite a unique manner, with the Engler instrument respected and left playable as an authentic baroque organ, complete with tracker-action and its own, original console.

 

Using this as the basis of the vastly enlarged instrument, and by attaching (presumably), electric-action to an otherwise mechanical instrument, the new pipework was matched to the Engler pipework very successfully; though this obviously implies that there was some re-pitching and re-tuning of the original Engler pipework. The end result was a vast instrument, with 10,400 pipes, (larger than anything in the UK), as compared with just over the 3,000 pipes of the original Engler.

 

Until quite recently, I had always thought that the idea of eclecticism was almost unique to England, (the American

Classic close to the same concept). I had always regarded Coventry and Blackburn as ground-breaking internationally, with St George's, Windsor being in among them somewhere. Olomouc pre-dates them by a fair margin, and listening to French Romantic music and Bach played on the same instrument, to great musical satisfaction (including chamades), tends to mark this instrument out as something rather special.

 

Of course, they hold the celebrated Olomouc organ-festival there every year.

 

There are some very large instruments in the tiny Czech Republic, and of course, a splendid organ-tradition to match....if only they would print the music!

 

 

MM

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We have heard of hybrid instruments.

is a hybrid performance, featuring one player and two instruments, one clearly digital, the other one very analogue.

 

Reminds one of what is told about Bruhns, accompanying himself while playing the violin.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

P. S.

Oh -- not at all hybrid, it turns out. Fully analogue. Sorry.

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"I also cannot recall whether, at the time, Glatter-Glotz was still involved with the company."

 

I was astonished to learn that any member of the Glatter-Gotz family had been involved with Rieger-Kloss but you're quite correct. Josef von Glatter-Gotz's association with the company ended, however, in 1945.

 

While I admire your one-man campaign to champion the communist organ in Eastern Europe, I wonder if those organs you like sound well because of the remarkable rooms? I have enough old Supraphon LPs of Rieger-Kloss organs which suggest that this was organubuilding of the lowest possible quality (and enough colleagues from Hungary to Belarus who tell me that it was). Logic would suggest that the organs built prior to the war (ie in the G-G era) were better than the ones built afterwards. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the R-K additions to the organ in Olomouc are removed should the money become available for the organ to be restored.

 

"Until quite recently, I had always thought that the idea of eclecticism was almost unique to England, (the American

Classic close to the same concept). I had always regarded Coventry and Blackburn as ground-breaking internationally"

 

No, the 'neo-classique' idea was really old hat by the time those organs were built. The proposed schemes by GDB for Gloucester and Blackburn were arguably more 'of their time' than the organs that were eventually built there. I suspect, however that neither organ would have found their popularity had the GDB schemes been realised.

 

"There are some very large instruments in the tiny Czech Republic, and of course, a splendid organ-tradition to match....if only they would print the music!"

 

I like that Wiederman stuff as well. Look out also for the amazing Passacaglia quasi Toccata on B-A-C-H by Milos Sokola. The only UK recording I know of which should still be available is John Scott's Priory disc from St Giles' in Edinburgh (the last Rieger organ designed by a Glatter-Gotz!). John Scott's performance is very polite and rather slow...

 

Bazuin

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