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Jeremy Jones

Js Bach's Greatest Organ Work?

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Elsewhere on this forum MM posed what I think is an unanswerable question: what is the greatest non-Bach organ-work ever written? I provocatively responded by suggesting MM should first put his cards on the table and indicate what he considered to be JSBs greatest organ work. Answer: the Trio Sonatas.

 

What do others think?

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That's six works! But you're right. They don't come any better than these. If I had to choose one I think it would have to be no.6. Or no.5. Or no.1. No, I'll settle for no.6.

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Guest Andrew Butler

I'm prepared for some "stick" for this, but for me it's BWV 572.

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Guest Andrew Butler
I'm prepared for some "stick" for this, but for me it's BWV 572.

 

 

And laying myself open to even more, I'd say that the most thrilling performance I have given of this was at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol making no attempt at authentic registration on that Angelina Jolie of an organ!!

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Elsewhere on this forum MM posed what I think is an unanswerable question: what is the greatest non-Bach organ-work ever written? I provocatively responded by suggesting MM should first put his cards on the table and indicate what he considered to be JSBs greatest organ work. Answer: the Trio Sonatas.

 

What do others think?

 

Art of Fugue (or is that not allowed?)

 

Passacaglia & Fugue (maybe also not organ music?)

 

or the wedge P&F or the great b minor P&F. Couldn't possibly decide between them!

 

JJK

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My apologies for not being clear that the Trio Sonatas were MMs choice, not mine! I can see why they might be near to the top of the pile, but they leave me cold.

 

Can I humbly ask that those know it all's :o please include the work's title, rather than just the BWV number. I know what BWV565 is, but that's all.

 

Postcript: I recently purchased the 17CD Peter Hurford boxed set. Last night, having spent 10 minutes flicking through the booklet and, like a child in a sweetie shop riven with indedicion about what to choose, I threw in the towel and put on the utterly unauthentic but nonetheless wonderful Vierne II played by Martin Jean on the EM Skinner in Woolsey Hall, that Carmen Electra of an organ. :lol:

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Guest Andrew Butler
Surely it's just a leetle bit fatter and heavier than that?  :o

 

Yes, but I'm thinking in terms of likening one of my favourite instruments to one of my favourite women! :lol:

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My apologies for not being clear that the Trio Sonatas were MMs choice, not mine! I can see why they might be near to the top of the pile, but they leave me cold.

 

 

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

 

My first reaction waas to be astounded by this, but then, I began to understand maybe WHY anyone can say this.

 

Nowadays, people play Bach far too fast, and I've probably been as guilty as the next, to the point that lyricism evaoprates, and all that is left is jumbled counterpoint.

 

I believe it is how we approach Bach which matters most. Was he simply a dry, dusty academic with a penchant for invertible counterpoint, or was he the man who could write some of the most beautiful melodies on earth?

 

Is the Gigue Fugue (whether or not by Bach) an excuse for an Olympian hop, skip and jump race, or is it the rather elegant, refined and ever so teeny-bit saucy baroque dance?

 

Nowadays, if I can be truly bothered to practise right, I don't leap on the organ and bash through the notes as I once did. Instead, I relax, remain still and SING the melodic lines to myself....a bit like Glenn Gould, but without the hunched back and the saliva.

 

Take a gander at the 2nd (slow) movement of the Eb (No.1) Trio Sonata and sing the opening melody in the RH. Then you will find that wonderfully inverted contrapuntal second-section. Sing it in exactly the same way as you would sing the opening, but put in the missing ornamentation (also in inversion, of course); a trick I learned by listening to James Dalton.

 

Then learn the notes so well that they become second-nature; listening instead to the lyrical flow of the melodic content, at a gentle, relaxed pace, with each part shadowing the other EXACTLY as in something like the D-Minor Double Violin concerto.

 

If it still leaves you cold, forget the organ and take up knitting.

 

MM

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Elsewhere on this forum MM posed what I think is an unanswerable question: what is the greatest non-Bach organ-work ever written? I provocatively responded by suggesting MM should first put his cards on the table and indicate what he considered to be JSBs greatest organ work. Answer: the Trio Sonatas.

 

What do others think?

Vater Unser from Clavierubung III; or just possibly O Mensch bewein.

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"I believe it is how we approach Bach which matters most. Was he simply a dry, dusty academic with a penchant for invertible counterpoint, or was he the man who could write some of the most beautiful melodies on earth?"

 

(Quote)

 

That is interesting, MM! excellent question.

We should all go to Waltershausen in order

to try some things on the Trost organ with six

(6) 8' flues on the HPTW and "No Plenum" according

to Stephen Bicknell.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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My first reaction waas to be astounded by this, but then, I began to understand maybe WHY anyone can say this.
And I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of your post (though I still play the Jig fairly niftily). I'd go further and make the same comment about some French Toccatas (especially the Final from Vierne 1), but that's another thread.

 

The more I listen to Hurford's Bach the more I dislike it. It's not that it's not musical - it's supremely so. It's more that the speeds are often at the expense of the music's lyricism - and the brittle registrations pall after a while too.

 

The first recording of the Trio Sonatas I got (and therefore the one that won me over) was Lionel Rogg's first recording. I thought his speeds were fast, but they're nowhere near Hurford's. Now they still seem just about right. Rogg cruises along easily in a Jaguar while Hurford overtakes him in a Ford Escort with his foot flat on the floor. OK that's a bit of unfair hyperbole, but it's not an entirely inaccurate comparison.

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And I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of your post (though I still play the Jig fairly niftily). I'd go further and make the same comment about some French Toccatas (especially the Final from Vierne 1), but that's another thread.

 

The more I listen to Hurford's Bach the more I dislike it. It's not that it's not musical - it's supremely so. It's more that the speeds are often at the expense of the music's lyricism - and the brittle registrations pall after a while too.

 

The first recording of the Trio Sonatas I got (and therefore the one that won me over) was Lionel Rogg's first recording. I thought his speeds were fast, but they're nowhere near Hurford's. Now they still seem just about right. Rogg cruises along easily in a Jaguar while Hurford overtakes him in a Ford Escort with his foot flat on the floor. OK that's a bit of unfair hyperbole, but it's not an entirely inaccurate comparison.

Vox- did you hear any of the R3 Bach Christmas? They played some of the old Helmut Walcha recordings of JSB - exquisite.

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Vox-  did you hear any of the R3 Bach Christmas? They played some of the old Helmut Walcha recordings of JSB - exquisite.
Oh, yes indeed. That Bach Christmas was just out of this world. And I, for one, was so pleased that they surveyed different performance practices as well as the music. Walcha at his best could be inspiring.

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Vater Unser from Clavierubung III; or just possibly O Mensch bewein.

 

I'd count both Vater Unsers from CÜIII as the greatest pieces of music. And O Mensch Bewein', and anything else from CÜIII but not the rest of the Orgelbüchlein.

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I'd count both Vater Unsers from CÜIII as the greatest pieces of music. And O Mensch Bewein', and anything else from CÜIII but not the rest of the Orgelbüchlein.
I think I'd have to agree that the Orgelbüchlein is not at the very pinnacle of Bach's achievements. However, it's not far off. There's a lot of profound (if subtle) music in there.

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Elsewhere on this forum MM posed what I think is an unanswerable question: what is the greatest non-Bach organ-work ever written? I provocatively responded by suggesting MM should first put his cards on the table and indicate what he considered to be JSBs greatest organ work. Answer: the Trio Sonatas.

 

What do others think?

 

For me, "Tocatta, Adagio and Fugue in C major" BWV 564 and "Prelude and Fugue St.Anne" BWV 552.

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My apologies for not being clear that the Trio Sonatas were MMs choice, not mine! I can see why they might be near to the top of the pile, but they leave me cold.

 

 

Thank goodness - I thought that I was the only one....

 

OK - The Dorian Fugue - probably.

 

This question is still a difficult one!

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For me, "Tocatta, Adagio and Fugue in C major" BWV 564 and "Prelude and Fugue St.Anne" BWV 552.

 

That is two - which takes the biscuit?

 

There is, incidentally, a fantastic recording of the first work which you mention. I am quite certain that if they heard it, most people here (without seeing the cover) no-one would ever guess the identity of the instrument on which it is played....

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Yes, but I'm thinking in terms of likening one of my favourite instruments to one of my favourite women!  :P

 

I can understand this - not many people find Roseanne Barr attractive....

 

:P

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That is two - which takes the biscuit?

 

There is, incidentally, a fantastic recording of the first work which you mention. I am quite certain that if they heard it, most people here (without seeing the cover) no-one would ever guess the identity of the instrument on which it is played....

 

 

Now let me see would that be Cochereau at Notre Dame or Demessieux at the old organ of the Victoria Hall, Geneva - the first two recordings of this work I ever acquired though I 've managed a few more since (but then I am quite old) - no have to be Cochereau for my money!!

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

 

My first reaction waas to be astounded by this, but then, I began to understand maybe WHY anyone can say this.

 

Nowadays, people play Bach far too fast, and I've probably been as guilty as the next, to the point that lyricism evaoprates, and all that is left is jumbled counterpoint.

 

I believe it is how we approach Bach which matters most. Was he simply a dry, dusty academic with a penchant for invertible counterpoint, or was he the man who could write some of the most beautiful melodies on earth?

 

Is the Gigue Fugue (whether or not by Bach) an excuse for an Olympian hop, skip and jump race, or is it the rather elegant, refined and ever so teeny-bit saucy baroque dance?

 

Nowadays, if I can be truly bothered to practise right, I don't leap on the organ and bash through the notes as I once did. Instead, I relax, remain still and SING the melodic lines to myself....a bit like Glenn Gould, but without the hunched back and the saliva.

 

Take a gander at the 2nd (slow) movement of the Eb (No.1) Trio Sonata and sing the opening melody in the RH. Then you will find that wonderfully inverted contrapuntal second-section. Sing it in exactly the same way as you would sing the opening, but put in the missing ornamentation (also in inversion, of course); a trick I learned by listening to James Dalton.

 

Then learn the notes so well that they become second-nature; listening instead to the lyrical flow of the melodic content, at a gentle, relaxed pace, with each part shadowing the other EXACTLY as in something like the D-Minor Double Violin concerto.

 

If it still leaves you cold, forget the organ and take up knitting.

 

MM

 

Well not my mostest favourite but they can sound absolutely wonderful, however, I can understand how anyone who first encountered these works in the Simon Preston recording might not feel inclined to indulge in repeated listening. Those are performances which leave me completely cold and I used to think of myself as a Preston fan, certainly when he was recording LPs for Argo. On the other hand there is in my view a quite magical performance by Peter Hurford of No 4 on an old Saga LP recorded at St Alban's Abbey : perhaps the message is more important than the medium.

 

BAC

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