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Mander Organs

J.s.bach - The Trio Sonatas


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I'd be interested to learn members' recommendations for recordings of BWV 525 - 530.

 

I have Helmut Walcha's recordings from Lubeck and Cappel and have to say that I don't especially like the sound, finding that some of the registrations almost set my teeth on edge. I don't wish to start a thread on the relative merits of historical versus modern instruments or whether Bach should be played only on "authentic" organs and would appreciate some open-minded comments based on what I should like to hear, which is something akin to the sound Thomas Trotter produced when he played No.1 at Birmingham Town Hall a few weeks ago.

 

What I'm probably saying is that I'd like a recording on an English instrument to which I can relate irrespective of whether it's anything like what may or may not have been heard in 17xx.

 

Thank you in advance.

 

P

 

PS D'oh! How can titles be edited to make me look less stupid?!

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A recording of the complete trio sonatas on an organ which sounds like an early Hill as rebuilt by Willis III and our hosts? I think you might struggle and, in any case, not looking for a recording on a historic organ because you don't like the old Walcha versions is a shame.

 

I have individual trio sonata recordings which I like more than any of the complete sets of which I am aware. The complete set which I enjoy the most is probably Bine Bryndorf's set from the Garnisons Church in Copenhagen (Carsten Lund) on Olufsen Records, although the outer movements are too quick for my taste. I have to admit that I don't know whether this is still available.

 

Bazuin

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Isn't there a Wayne Marshall single CD, with the 18 and the Orgelbuchlein on it as well?

 

Of all the versions I can think of, the Kevin Bowyer ones were (if I remember correctly) good all-purpose ones on a non-offensive Frobenius or Marcussen or something.

 

(I've done one of them on Romsey...order now for Christmas, folks)

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Thank you all for the responses, which have given me some good ideas to check out. I wish that W.H.Smith still had those little booths where one used to listen to records on a Saturday morning (and annoy the girl on the counter by pressing the button requesting her to turn the single over and play Side B!). I guess that downloaded samples are a similar thing, if less fun...

 

I'll have a good trawl through some available samples later today and make a decision then. I am quite interested in the transcription version Jonathan suggests and will, I think, buy that as well as an organ version.

 

This recent recording also looks quite interesting. Is anyone here familiar with the instrument?

 

P

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Are they very quick ones?

 

I am not sure, its a long time since I listened to them. I believe it was one of the last recordings Michael Woodward made, and went straight to CD, i think. Priory have re issued all of his previous work from vinyl, so not too sure what will happen to this little gem. And the organ sounds very good (well to my ears) and as usual the sleeve notes are excellent and include the registrations used.

 

Peter

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I am not sure, its a long time since I listened to them. I believe it was one of the last recordings Michael Woodward made, and went straight to CD, i think. Priory have re issued all of his previous work from vinyl, so not too sure what will happen to this little gem. And the organ sounds very good (well to my ears) and as usual the sleeve notes are excellent and include the registrations used.

 

Peter

 

I have it on cassette, they're not particularly fast and very nicely played. I was given the cassette recording in 1987 as I was learning number 5, it was an original I hasten to add, and I have the sleeve although the cassette is a copy made just as the original was starting to get mangled in my machine on a daily basis, due to wear and tear!!

 

For an absolutely blistering performance of Trio Sonata no. 2 get hold of Olivier LATRY aux Grandes Orgues GIROUD du Grand-Bornand (Haute-Savoie). It's simply stunning in every way and it is fast, but still extremely musical playing. Needs to be heard to be believed IMHO.

It's an all Bach disc "L'art de la transcription" with BWV 593, 594, 596, 645-650 and 539 in addition to the trio 585.

it's on the BNL productions label so the Trio also features on "Olivier Latry: 12 des plus belles pages de sa discographie" which is an excellent disc with tracks from various organs, all impeccably played!

 

P

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There was a thought-provoking CD of Ewald Kooiman on various Dutch organs. I know that he had embarked upon a 3rd cycle which was left unfinished at his death in January last. I think the one I heard was from the 1990's and came as quite a shock to hear some of the tempi. However, they were quite a source of pondering for me and my students and certainly it needs to be heard. I think they were fine examples of going at speeds which made the organs sound at their best and nothing sounded forced. However, a fine organ will teach the player far more than they realise and the one hope from me is that I don't have to hear any more tinkly neo-Baroque registrations in my life. Why is it that people sometimes make the organ sound like tinsel for the Trios? Personally I like to have the same registration for the outer movements as I have never known a 'human' trio to all change on stage and this (to/for me) makes for a rather finer tripartite scheme from start to finish. But surely a fast speed can only go as fast as the basso allows to provide optimum sound and projection to support the other two voices.

Best wishes,

N

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I am not sure, its a long time since I listened to them. I believe it was one of the last recordings Michael Woodward made, and went straight to CD, i think. Priory have re issued all of his previous work from vinyl, so not too sure what will happen to this little gem. And the organ sounds very good (well to my ears) and as usual the sleeve notes are excellent and include the registrations used.

 

Peter

Sorry, I was attempting a witticism - dangerous on the internet!

 

You had said they were by Peter le Hurray (he was Huray, with only one "r", and clearly NOT in a hurry).

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Sorry, I was attempting a witticism - dangerous on the internet!

 

You had said they were by Peter le Hurray (he was Huray, with only one "r", and clearly NOT in a hurry).

 

My typing skills are bad, sorry B)

The first LP that I bought for my father was of a guy called Charles Benbow, and had the bwv529, which has been my own personal favorite piece for years. It was played, I think, at the German Evangelical Church, in Paris, A small 2 man and ped, a picture of JSB sat at "a" console adorned the front cover

Peter

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I'd be interested to learn members' recommendations for recordings of BWV 525 - 530.

 

There is a list of recordings here. I rather like John Butt's 1991 recording though the American Neo-Baroque instrument he recorded on and/or his style might not be to everyone's tastes. Australian organist Christopher Wrench recently released a recording of the trio sonatas (see down the list here) that he performed on the organ of Garnisons Kirke, Copenhagen - I have only heard excerpts of his recording on the radio but I rather like the noises he coaxes from it, on the bits I heard.

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Thank you for the further replies.

 

I have listened to quite a few excerpts online as well as YouTube offerings and rather like Christopher Herrick's interpretation along with Benjamin Alard's new recording on the Aubertin in Saint-Louis en l'Ile Paris. Many of the performances on YouTube, while quite beautiful, are not available on CD and I haven't been able to find recordings by other organists on the featured instruments.

 

I could listen to these works all day; I just love the ease with which JSB threads together the themes and inversions and in the hands of a great player makes them sound so effortless. As one who sweated blood and tears over No 1 many years ago without ever getting properly to grips with it, I appreciate how difficult a good performance is to bring off.

 

P

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The complete set which I enjoy the most is probably Bine Bryndorf's set from the Garnisons Church in Copenhagen (Carsten Lund) on Olufsen Records, although the outer movements are too quick for my taste. I have to admit that I don't know whether this is still available.

 

Bazuin

 

I second this vote for Bine's recording, although, Bazuin, I sometimes think her outer movements would sometimes benefit from a little more drive or aggression.

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Does anyone know anything about or posess a copy of the recording of the Trio Sonatas by Christa Rakich & others in the US using organ plus other instruments? I have been trying to get hold of a copy but even an email to Ms Rakich comes up blank.

 

A

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There was a thought-provoking CD of Ewald Kooiman on various Dutch organs. I know that he had embarked upon a 3rd cycle which was left unfinished at his death in January last. I think the one I heard was from the 1990's and came as quite a shock to hear some of the tempi.

 

However, they were quite a source of pondering for me and my students and certainly it needs to be heard. I think they were fine examples of going at speeds which made the organs sound at their best and nothing sounded forced.

 

However, a fine organ will teach the player far more than they realise........

 

But surely a fast speed can only go as fast as the basso allows......

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Uttered by a true musician who never stops learning.

 

Without the "benefit" of modern suspended actions or light EP actions, the old organs need time and space to deliver their message. Modern actions have done so much to twist our perceptions of baroque music performance. Bach could never have played his own organ music at some of the meteoric speeds heard to-day, and if that is so, I think it unlikely unlikely that other genres of music would have treated any differently.Nigel makes an interesting and valid point about the bass line in Bach's trio-writing, but I would further suggest that almost everything Bach wrote was influenced by just two things. Firstly, the music of courtly dance, and secondly, by the stately progress of Lutheran hymnody. In fact, if the underlying harmony of Bach's counterpoint is reduced to block chordal progressions, it emerges sounding like a Lutheran hymn-tune, and I would suggest that this might be a suitable starting point when choosing the speed for a particular work. Even where the inspiration is that of courtly dances, the harmonic rhythm of even "running dances" is basically quite sedate. After all, within the court environment, formal dances were performed in heavy, multi-layered clothing rather than the leotards of contemporary dance. I haven't tried wearing a ball-gown yet, but some of my more colourful friends tell me that dancing in one is physically much the same as stoking an A4 Pacific with coal. How they know this, I cannot imagine!

 

I always smile when I think of the "Road to Damascus" experience I enjoyed in the Martinikerk, Groningen, where a brilliant Bach performer played the Gigue Fugue at an alarmingly sedate pace, and with the most wonderful daylight between the notes and musical-phrasing. I was absolutely intrigued and completely won over by the experience, which seemed so right in that glorious acoustic and with such a superlative instrument re-created "in the old style" as far as humanly possible.

 

Nigel also makes the point about Trio writing for real live trios, and although his reference was to registration, I think he will agree that when small groups perform, they listen to each other and bounce off each other musically, and that surely is the essence of contrapuntal trio-writing. Each separate part should be a polished jewel in its own right, yet entirely compatible with what is heard played by the other two performers. Counterpoint is exactly what it says it is; the cedent and antecedent of musical dialogue, where attention to the finest detail brings enormous musical benefits. To the man in the pew, a well played trio is a delight, but to the performer, it is the ultimate challenge in terms of control and musicianship.

 

I would not be presumptuous enough to anticipate Nigel's reaction to the music heard in the following link, but the performance of "Alleinen Gott," played by Gunther Rost seems so right to my ears. With the complex trio writing AND choral tune in perfect harmony and control, it seems to sum up what Nigel wrote, apart from the sticking note during the recording, which presumably relegated this "take" to the dustbin!

 

http://www.gunther-rost.de/hoerproben.php

 

MM

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I remember a short while ago, when james Lancelot, (DoM Durham cath) was president of our organ ass, for his presidents evening, he played, amonst other things, BWV529 on his H&H house organ acompanied with 3 string players, it was so beautiful, and warmed the spirit somewhat, and I was sat between Mark Venning and his wife, and they really enjoyed it to.

 

Peter

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Bach could never have played his own organ music at some of the meteoric speeds heard to-day, and if that is so, I think it unlikely unlikely that other genres of music would have treated any differently.

Bravo, MM. I agree with nearly all of your very wise post. And welcome back!

 

I am quite sure you are right about the speeds. Somewhere else on this board I explained why Buxtehude's music is rather unlikely to have been treated to the helter-skelter approach favoured by so many today under the excuse of "stylus fantasticus". And the speed issue certainly reaches far beyond organ music. I've yet to hear an organist play the last movement of the Bach Pastorella at the speed most ensembles whizz through the last movement of Brandenburg 3 these days, but logic would suggest that they should go at a similar speed. They share exactly the same style of writing on, moreover, exactly the same theme (it just happens to be inverted in the Pastorella the first time you hear it). Yet, even amongst the speed merchants, is there anyone who would relish the idea of an organist playing the Pastorella that fast? Like the taste of a single malt whisky, Bach's harmony needs to be given time to develop its full effect so that it can be savoured. Performers who dash through his music risk sacrificing this to rhythm and bounce, thus denying their listeners this very important aspect of his genius.

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