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Thalben-ball's Toccata In F Bwv 540


James Goldrick
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First of all, may I commend to all of you this recording of GTB cruising effortlessly through the Bach Toccata in F BWV 540 at a superhuman pace.

Certainly one of the most electrifying records ever made.

 

 

However, the details list this as being recorded on the BBC Compton Organ at Maida Vale in 1933 (as does the EMI re-issue CD). Three years before the organ was built, according to NPOR.

Is the recording from a later date, or was it recorded on another instrument? (Logic suggests the BBC Theatre in Langham Place [Compton - 1933])

 

JG

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First of all, may I commend to all of you this recording of GTB cruising effortlessly through the Bach Toccata in F BWV 540 at a superhuman pace.

Certainly one of the most electrifying records ever made.

 

 

However, the details list this as being recorded on the BBC Compton Organ at Maida Vale in 1933 (as does the EMI re-issue CD). Three years before the organ was built, according to NPOR.

Is the recording from a later date, or was it recorded on another instrument? (Logic suggests the BBC Theatre in Langham Place [Compton - 1933])

 

JG

 

Krikey!!! I don't normally approve of speeds like that because it tends to destroy the articulation. But in this case - Wow! Unbelievable drive - really brings out the dance in the piece.

 

I guess there would be little acoustic whether it was in Maida Vale Studios or the BBC Theatre, so what we are hearing is probably quite close to how it sounded in the building. In which case, the tempo would be fine, and possibly the only way to bring the piece to life in a dead acoustic. Not sure I'd want to hear it played at that speed at King's, for example.

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Amazing playing. What I love about this interpretation is it goes against grain as to how so many so called Bach purists would like the piece to be played yet it sounds so right. The crescendo at the start of each passage is tastefully done but not something I can ever remember ever hearing other than in this recording. The pedal technique is razor sharp at this speed yet the phrasing remains immaculate.

 

Hearing long prelude and fugues played on the same registration with little imagination often bores me to tears.

 

Just confirms to me that there is more than one way to skin a cat and long live the difference (and the debate that this causes!)

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It has an honesty - about the organ he's playing; about the organ in general as an exciting medium; about his self-confidence and secure technique; about his passion for Bach; about his grasp of the architecture of the piece - that I like very much. No messing. And it has clarity - that watchword that led to the wholesale destruction of an entire aesthetic in Britain.

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