Author Topic: J.S. Bach on the Organ  (Read 301063 times)

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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2440 on: May 27, 2017, 05:08:27 PM »
A question for those who have Koopman's set: I just noticed that several Amazon reviews complain about a lack of clarity of individual voices. Is there any truth in this? To be fair, other reviews claim the sound is excellent. Clarity of each voice is obviously important in the more densely contrapuntal works so it would be useful to hear what others think about this before I pull the trigger on Koopman's set.

Offline bioluminescentsquid

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2441 on: May 27, 2017, 11:18:38 PM »
A question for those who have Koopman's set: I just noticed that several Amazon reviews complain about a lack of clarity of individual voices. Is there any truth in this? To be fair, other reviews claim the sound is excellent. Clarity of each voice is obviously important in the more densely contrapuntal works so it would be useful to hear what others think about this before I pull the trigger on Koopman's set.

I never thought that was a problem. Sure, Koopman is notorious for high speeds and lots of ornamentation in resonant rooms on full plenums, a seemingly surefire recipe for muddied contrapuntal lines. But he somehow pulls it off - that is, most of the time.

Case in point: the fugue of BWV 564, played on the Schnitger organ in Hamburg, a yuuge Baroque organ in a large, resonant room, on a breakneck speed with a 16' plenum. You hear chords more than counterpoint (that's a characteristic of this fugue anyways), but the overall effect is joyous, magnificent, and beautiful. It's probably my favorite version of the fugue, and came as a shock when I first heard it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCMR9As5gs0

I think he exemplifies the understanding that Bach's music is (gasp) not all about displaying counterpoint - it's also about rhetoric and affekt. Counterpoint here is a means, not the end. So even if he's no Walcha when it comes to highlighting the counterpoint, he excels in the overall effect of the piece, if that's what you tend to listen for. You won't think that the lines are too blurred or anything unless you insist on hearing them with absolute clarity in a room that's dry as dust - but then, there's a reason why we don't build organs in dead rooms.
(although there are some central German organs that Bach knew well in very dry-sounding churches, such as the Trost in Altenberg)

(Surprise: he also plays the trio sonatas on the Hamburg organ, sometimes with full plenum, with quite good results)

Of course, if you're all for hearing the counterpoint, go for e.g. Walcha, Foccroulle, Weinberger etc., who have much cleaner lines.
Koopman's more for the main overall effect.

But try it out for yourself. I think the fugues in here (potentially along parts of the CU III/Orgelbüchlein) is as "muddy" as it gets. See if you can take it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D1zlB9hY8U
Lots of parts of the set is on youtube, so you can try before you buy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Zcl8lKOgc

Offline Mandryka

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2442 on: May 28, 2017, 02:31:22 AM »
This (2nd) Walcha set isn't just Alkmaar, but also the Silbermann Organ of the St.-Pierre-le-Jeune in Strasbourg.
The Alkmaar pieces were recorded earlier (1959-1963). Strasbourg sounds better, but Alkmaar has got the more expressive organ IMO.

Ah yes the 564 fugue has good sound, and indeed some surprising registrations.
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2443 on: May 28, 2017, 03:33:49 PM »
I never thought that was a problem. Sure, Koopman is notorious for high speeds and lots of ornamentation in resonant rooms on full plenums, a seemingly surefire recipe for muddied contrapuntal lines. But he somehow pulls it off - that is, most of the time.

Case in point: the fugue of BWV 564, played on the Schnitger organ in Hamburg, a yuuge Baroque organ in a large, resonant room, on a breakneck speed with a 16' plenum. You hear chords more than counterpoint (that's a characteristic of this fugue anyways), but the overall effect is joyous, magnificent, and beautiful. It's probably my favorite version of the fugue, and came as a shock when I first heard it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCMR9As5gs0

I think he exemplifies the understanding that Bach's music is (gasp) not all about displaying counterpoint - it's also about rhetoric and affekt. Counterpoint here is a means, not the end. So even if he's no Walcha when it comes to highlighting the counterpoint, he excels in the overall effect of the piece, if that's what you tend to listen for. You won't think that the lines are too blurred or anything unless you insist on hearing them with absolute clarity in a room that's dry as dust - but then, there's a reason why we don't build organs in dead rooms.
(although there are some central German organs that Bach knew well in very dry-sounding churches, such as the Trost in Altenberg)

(Surprise: he also plays the trio sonatas on the Hamburg organ, sometimes with full plenum, with quite good results)

Of course, if you're all for hearing the counterpoint, go for e.g. Walcha, Foccroulle, Weinberger etc., who have much cleaner lines.
Koopman's more for the main overall effect.

But try it out for yourself. I think the fugues in here (potentially along parts of the CU III/Orgelbüchlein) is as "muddy" as it gets. See if you can take it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D1zlB9hY8U
Lots of parts of the set is on youtube, so you can try before you buy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Zcl8lKOgc

Thanks for the reply. I just dipped into the fugues on the YT link and the clarity didn't sound too bad at all. Maybe a little less distinct in the last fugue, but still, not what those Amazon reviews suggested.

When I read those reviews I remembered listening to some samples from a Brilliant Classics reissue of some old performances (as in from around the early 70s) of Renaissance polyphony which were riddled with a really heavy vibrato. You can imagine what that did to the clarity of each line - it really did sound like a lumpen mess and about as far as you can get from performances by ensembles such as Cappella Pratensis, Stimmwerck etc.. I wondered if Koopman's Bach might be like that but if the clarity on that YT link is as "bad" as it gets then it should be fine.   

Offline Forever Electoral College

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2444 on: August 05, 2017, 07:25:18 PM »
What do folks think of this?


I have been listnening this for a few weeks, and I like it. He does not have a great dexterity, and the recording sound is just OK. But there is something I like. I like his selection as well.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2445 on: August 20, 2017, 10:59:09 AM »
Copying from the Purchases Today thread:


Too bad Vernet's set is priced as if it's gold plated platinum...
If you are interested in a second set, the Hanssler set is good value for the money. Unless you can in fact find a copy of Vernet that is not priced like gold plated platinum.

Okay, emerged from my hunt for a second Bach organ set (utilizing YouTube to its fullest) with very favorable impressions of several organists: Weinberger, Kooiman et al (their respective parts on the Silbermann set), Alain, Bowyer, Vernet, Isoir, Chapuis, and who knows who else. But one organist stood out for me as a clear favorite: Vernet.

My initial impressions of Vernet were confirmed the more I heard: Vernet is more on the extrovert side compared to Foccroulle, but not lacking in subtlety, with a winning freshness. Foccroulle is still king of the king of instruments in Bach for me, but I'm looking forward to Vernet eagerly.

AND...in a spectacular stroke of luck, Vernet's set has just been reissued (in May)! It's not available in the States so far as I can tell, but it's available at a very attractive price from some of the European Amazons. With the exchange rate FINALLY evening out I snatched up a copy from AmazonDE for $39 US shipped!

Copious tips of the beret, Jeffrey!

https://www.amazon.de/Bach-Ouvre-Orgue-Olivier-Vernet/dp/B06XHSK2HP/ref=pd_sim_15_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=1EVWB4Z2954PMXTAE4RX



Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2446 on: August 20, 2017, 06:02:56 PM »
Well Hurrah! And well done!

Now everyone else needs to grab it before it goes OOP again!

Too bad they didn't use the wierd cover art of the first set, with Frederick the Great chasing after Augustus of Saxony/Poland and JSB looming godlike above them. Can't have everything.

But wait a sec....that Amazon listing says it is five CDs! The original set had 19 (it included some supplemental discs such as the concertos for multiple keyboards performed on portable organs).  This may only be a highlights set. (Or Amazon made another mistake.)  Although even if it is just a selection, it's still a good purchase.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2447 on: August 20, 2017, 07:22:19 PM »
Too bad they didn't use the wierd cover art of the first set, with Frederick the Great chasing after Augustus of Saxony/Poland and JSB looming godlike above them. Can't have everything.

That is a silly cover! Had me grinning. :D

Quote
But wait a sec....that Amazon listing says it is five CDs! The original set had 19 (it included some supplemental discs such as the concertos for multiple keyboards performed on portable organs).  This may only be a highlights set. (Or Amazon made another mistake.)  Although even if it is just a selection, it's still a good purchase.

It looks like 15 on the front of the box, though. I guess I'll find out when it arrives!

EDIT: AmazonFR gives samples of all 15 discs! Yahoo!

https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B06XHSK2HP/ref=s9u_simh_gw_i1?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06XHSK2HP&pd_rd_r=FQKDBV7HBMA34YYSDSP1&pd_rd_w=I4vql&pd_rd_wg=tjmGS&pf_rd_m=A1X6FK5RDHNB96&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=PFDE4A12SZPJBGB8DSD8&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=a165becc-deda-4bed-878f-57fe722c3c75&pf_rd_i=desktop
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 07:25:50 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2448 on: August 20, 2017, 07:30:11 PM »
Yes North Star corrected me in the Purchases Thread.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2449 on: August 20, 2017, 07:43:02 PM »
Yes North Star corrected me in the Purchases Thread.

Whew...I can breath again. :)
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2450 on: August 22, 2017, 11:25:17 PM »
That is a silly cover! Had me grinnging. :D


Me, too! [Quote adjusted]

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2451 on: August 22, 2017, 11:29:34 PM »
The Clavier-Übung 3 and the Ricercar from BWV 1079 are played on the historical Gabler organ in Weingarten, a rather famous one and, for this set, beautifully recorded by the Calliope team.
The Leipzig Chorales are played on the ('modern baroque') Westenfelder organ in Fère-en-Tardenois, France.

To me, the entire set has its goods and its 'bads'. Like Herrick for the British, Isoir is the most poetic of the French 'integralists'. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't. But it's certainly a nice set to have and there's plenty to enjoy.

See, that is what I wanted to hear. It is in my possession, and I will start listening to it in the foreseeable future. :)
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Online Harry's corner

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2452 on: August 22, 2017, 11:32:02 PM »
Copying from the Purchases Today thread:


Okay, emerged from my hunt for a second Bach organ set (utilizing YouTube to its fullest) with very favorable impressions of several organists: Weinberger, Kooiman et al (their respective parts on the Silbermann set), Alain, Bowyer, Vernet, Isoir, Chapuis, and who knows who else. But one organist stood out for me as a clear favorite: Vernet.

My initial impressions of Vernet were confirmed the more I heard: Vernet is more on the extrovert side compared to Foccroulle, but not lacking in subtlety, with a winning freshness. Foccroulle is still king of the king of instruments in Bach for me, but I'm looking forward to Vernet eagerly.

AND...in a spectacular stroke of luck, Vernet's set has just been reissued (in May)! It's not available in the States so far as I can tell, but it's available at a very attractive price from some of the European Amazons. With the exchange rate FINALLY evening out I snatched up a copy from AmazonDE for $39 US shipped!

Copious tips of the beret, Jeffrey!

https://www.amazon.de/Bach-Ouvre-Orgue-Olivier-Vernet/dp/B06XHSK2HP/ref=pd_sim_15_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=1EVWB4Z2954PMXTAE4RX





Vernet is indeed extrovert, but in a special way.
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Online Harry's corner

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2453 on: August 22, 2017, 11:38:26 PM »
A question for those who have Koopman's set: I just noticed that several Amazon reviews complain about a lack of clarity of individual voices. Is there any truth in this? To be fair, other reviews claim the sound is excellent. Clarity of each voice is obviously important in the more densely contrapuntal works so it would be useful to hear what others think about this before I pull the trigger on Koopman's set.

Koopman was always the odd one out in the Netherlands, for his sometimes eccentric playing style. Always on the fast side, he rarely lets the music breathe at it's own tempo. He is the man of effect rather than affect. For me when he plays at full plenum I perceive chaos and miss almost all details. What I am saying is, he is an acquired taste, either you like him or not, there is no inbetween.
I get rather nervous listening to him, and get irritated by the many freedoms he allows himself.
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Offline Marc

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2454 on: August 23, 2017, 09:32:29 AM »
Koopman was always the odd one out in the Netherlands, for his sometimes eccentric playing style. Always on the fast side, he rarely lets the music breathe at it's own tempo. He is the man of effect rather than affect. For me when he plays at full plenum I perceive chaos and miss almost all details. What I am saying is, he is an acquired taste, either you like him or not, there is no inbetween.
I get rather nervous listening to him, and get irritated by the many freedoms he allows himself.

To me, Koopman is a hit or miss, in other words a in-between. (Sorry, Harry.)

I generally appreciate his playing in the chorale-based works, but his overly energetic approach of the free works can be tiresome indeed. Especially when, as in his Teldec integral, the grouping is rather strictly genre-based. It's heavy stuff already to listen to a 70+ minutes disc or recital of only free works in plenum registration by any other more relaxed organist, let alone by Ton ADHD Koopman himself.
But really, I think there is much too enjoy in the chorale stuff. I've heard him play live more than once, and I've heard beautiful renderings of f.i. "An Wasserflüßen Babylon" BWV 653, "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele" BWV 654, "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" BWV 656 and "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" BWV 639. These works, and a lot of other chorales, are also very convincing IMHO on his DG/Novalis/Teldec recordings.

At home, when I decide to listen to a Koopman/Bach organ disc, it's mostly a 'combined' disc of the unfinished Novalis (later Brilliant Classics) cycle. All 6 volumes are presented in 'recital' style, i.c. free and chorale works mixed, and I really enjoy all of them. Like the first disc, with a spectacular and fast BWV 542, followed up by three very well played chorales BWV 659, 645 and 639.

I.c. the freedom he allows himself (with tempi and ornamentation): he firmly believes that's the imaginative way to play baroque keyboard music, either it being Bach or someone else. And he believes that historical sources prove him right. (Plenty of other musicians and scholars think otherwise, but, hey, that's nothing new.)

One of my main 'problems' with Koopman's live organ recitals was, that he didn't seem to care about the variety of church acoustics and reverberation. Tempi were always (more or less) the same. And his hands and fingers sometimes didn't manage to keep up with the tempi he apparently had in mind. Which led to complete chaos in f.i. Bach's Passacaglia, a couple of years ago in Groningen's Martinikerk.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2455 on: August 23, 2017, 03:03:28 PM »
Vernet is indeed extrovert, but in a special way.

I'm anxious to hear this set. Can't wait!
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Marc

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2456 on: August 23, 2017, 09:22:13 PM »
I'm anxious to hear this set. Can't wait!

It's not my favourite boxset, but it's good 'fun'.
I saw the reissue has got 15 cds, which means that the former 4 bonus discs have gone (a.o. his first disc of 1988, and a disc with transcriptions of harpsichord concertos (together with a.o. Marie-Claire Alain)). It's a pity, but... the 15 disc set is still very enjoyable'. :)
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Offline Drosera

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2457 on: August 23, 2017, 09:56:53 PM »
It's not my favourite boxset, but it's good 'fun'.
I saw the reissue has got 15 cds, which means that the former 4 bonus discs have gone (a.o. his first disc of 1988, and a disc with transcriptions of harpsichord concertos (together with a.o. Marie-Claire Alain)). It's a pity, but... the 15 disc set is still very enjoyable'. :)

Actually, at least the latter have been reissued as well:



Couldn't find it on Amazon yet, but it is already on Spotify.

Offline Marc

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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2458 on: August 24, 2017, 12:28:25 AM »
Actually, at least the latter have been reissued as well:


[...]

I see.

Divide et merera. ;)
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Re: J.S. Bach on the Organ
« Reply #2459 on: August 24, 2017, 12:35:14 AM »
It's not my favourite boxset, but it's good 'fun'.
I saw the reissue has got 15 cds, which means that the former 4 bonus discs have gone (a.o. his first disc of 1988, and a disc with transcriptions of harpsichord concertos (together with a.o. Marie-Claire Alain)). It's a pity, but... the 15 disc set is still very enjoyable'. :)

I never understood the fascination for Marie Claire Allan, A set, well all the sets she recorded, sound for me so unlike Bach, and more like Alain. I dislike her playing, and her ego on top of the music.
So having the 15 cd box I do not regret that the additional cd's are not in there. ;)
I probably have to move to my bomb shelter in the garden to avoid all the abuse that will follow after this opinion. :laugh:
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