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One of my favourite pieces of music. Bach BWV 547

Discussion in 'classical' started by George J, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    From the greatest Bachian to have made records.

    Hard to believe that this is a recording made several generations ago.

    Perhaps [from this] you may understand why Bach and Haydn are my favourite composers. The swing and gentle sway of it with its supreme counterpoint show that music has not improved since. Truly music to inspire in difficult times.

    Best wishes and Happy New yew! George
    Jono_13 likes this.
  2. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    One of my favourites too, it is joyful to play however some agility is needed for the pedals - the high pedals are used frequently so the performer can’t sit too staticly on the bench.

    played it many times but many years ago.

    I’m clearly no Walcha fan :)
  3. Nic Robinson

    Nic Robinson Moderator

    Learnt the prelude as a student and the fugue a couple of years ago in my 50s (go figure). Adore the Great C Major. Especially the way the fugue builds and builds to that moment with the chord sequence and the Grenadier Guards! Then THAT coda!!
  4. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    I actually prefer the fugue over the prelude. Bach must have foreseen Bruckner - it feels Brucknerian to me at least. I have studied the fugue on the piano and that allowed me to highlight the theme a bit. If I played the fugue without the prelude, I try to play it as slow as possible. It gets a larger scale that way. If played with the prelude, the balance between them must be right and therefore I can’t play it too slow.

    Nic, we were chatting about Widor and Boellmann before. My eldest kid of 12 is now studying the Toccata from Suite Gothique. There will be organists in the future!
  5. Nic Robinson

    Nic Robinson Moderator

    Good news. I remember learning the Widor around that age and I'm so glad I did. These pieces need to be got done and then they're there for life. The Boellmann similarly. Agreed with you over the fugue. Definitely my preference too. Magnificent writing imo.

    I'm a bit of a late developer with Bach and only learned the St Anne fugue this year. No interest in the prelude...but might get around to it!
  6. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Walcha is amazing in 547, which is probably my favourite prelude.

    Those early Walcha recordings are much prized but I have a lot of affection for the Alkmaar recordings, his second set - less colourful, but often more meditative I think. Very good in 547.

    The current incumbent at Alkmaar is Pieter Van Dijk, and he’s recording all of Bach on the organ now, at times you can hear the ghost of Helmut Walcha in the performances. As far as I know Van dijk hasn’t recorded 547 yet.
  7. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    While we are here - BWV 528 Organ Sonata.... any recommendations for a good recording? I have Hans Fagius on BIS but it seems very anaemic to me - and too much mechanical noise from the organ for me too. I was turned onto this piece of music by this wonderful performance of the andante in a piano transcription by August Stradal - played by Vikingur Olafsson. Maybe the piano transcription is just better than the original?
  8. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    I think this goes nicely!

    Best wishes from George
    Cheese and alanbeeb like this.
  9. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    How about this? It was probably written for three instruments originally (the score is lost) and this is on gamba and harpsichord -- but it's so nice, I can't resist sharing it.

    Another great favourite of mine is The Purcell Quartet, also probably an inauthentic transcription because of the way the Richard Boothby makes the gamba move from melody to continuo -- he discusses it in the booklet. But I don't care, I like it! Not on youtube asa far as I can see, but it's on spotify etc.

    alanbeeb likes this.
  10. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    ^ Good recommendations folks..... Walcha definitely superior to Fagius, that's for sure..... though I really prefer stereo sound! I'll definitely try to get a listen to that Purcell quartet recording.
  11. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    Regarding the Trio Sonatas (I have been tortured with them), Ton Koopman is my favourite:

    I do like Olivier Vernet as well for sure:
  12. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    This indeed sounds very nice. I checked on which organ it was played since the tones were so rich and full, it was the Schnitger in Cappel:


    Compare it to a Schnitger I have played a lot on:


    These organs are magnificient. It has always surprised me that half of this planet knows about the Stradivarius violins, but not these instruments which are equally or even more impressive.

    It is difficult to explain but when you touch a key for the first tone, you instantly get teletransported centuries back. History gets alive!
    George J and Nic Robinson like this.
  13. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Which organ is that? I’m listening right now to Bram Beekman playing BWV 528, I’m not totally sure what the organ is. The music, in his hands, has a mystical quality - something I just don’t think you could achieve on an instrument other than a baroque style organ. I think (but I’m not sure) I have him playing all six sonatas, I’ll have to explore that soon.
  14. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Another absolutely wonderful "quiet" performance at Cappel from Walcha.

    Ich ruf zu dir ...

    Best wishes from George
  15. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    "Ich ruf ..." again, but in Busoni's wonderful arrangement for modern piano. Here played by Edwin Fischer in Berlin.

    This is what turned me onto the then unknown to me Orgel Buchlein back in 1985.

    Best wishes from George
  16. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Stations to the ... Music of JS Bach.

    As a child the very first classical music I listened to was on a little nine volt miniature transistor radio I found in the attic. I did not work, so being the naughty eight year old I was I opened the radio, and found a single internal wire that was broken off at one end. I soon found where it should connect to, and used one of those copperhead soldering irons that you put into a fire [in the front room, when nobody was about] to get it hot. I fixed it, and played about with the tuner. This was in the days of Home, Light and Third as the BBC national stations. We had the Light on the kitchen radio, and the Home was all grown up talking, which interested me as much as Malcomb Muggeridge on Sunday afternoon TV!

    But I found the Third broadcasting Jesu Joy Of Mans Desiring played on organ.

    I got a little ear-piece so I could listen to "my" radio in bed. I soon discovered the "symphony concert" of an evening so listened intently to everything I could in the safety of my little bed.

    My taste was for Beethoven, Schubert, and even Elgar. My first LPs were The Great C Major of Schubert and Elgar's A Flat Symphony [First] as a ten year old. Both from Glorious John Barbirolli on HMV when best LPs cost £2/1/0.

    Bach was rarely performed in those days on the BBC, and so my next enthusiasm [which remains today] was the music of Haydn.

    In 1985 Radio Three had a year long broadcasting feast of JS Bach from where I discovered so much including Edwin Fischer's recording of "Ich ruf" which strangely introduced me the keyboard oeuvre of Bach. That same year there was a live relay from the QEH of the Linde Consort playing two orchestral suites and two concertos of Bach, and this converted me in one fell swoop to playing Bach on the instruments of his time. A great door had opened.

    In about 2002 I eventually found organ recordings that pleased. Walcha, in the mono series, and a few examples may be found above in this thread.

    Since then I realised that there is so much music from Bach that it would be more than a lifetime's wok to "know" all of it, and so far I have not found any music from the master that did the reward the effort of getting to know it by heart.

    So I say this that with the exception of Haydn, I investuigate no other composer's work with a systematic determination. OIf course I listen to concerts on the radio of all classical genres, and sometimes I really like something completely unexpected. Surprisingly to me, I find quite some pleasure in Stravinsky for example. I adore Sibelius, and that is rather a contrast. But I return to known and unknown [to me] music from JS Bach every day.

    If music had an octane rating Bach's would be consistently of the very highest grade. "Why waste time with Parafin music?" is my own question to myself. Of course most would disagree [and possibly correctly] with my mono-thematic approach!

    I think the reason I took a while to get to Bach was that I had a music teacher who called Bach's music, "musical barbed wire." I have never found it so, but I was fifteen years before really working on it after first finding it.

    Best wishes from George
  17. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    The organ I posted is Uithuizen. I little town in Groningen, The Netherlands.

    The Province of Groningen is likely to be the place on this planet where the high-quality organ density is the highest. The is no town without a jewel. Even the smallest towns with the smallest churches have beautiful instruments.
  18. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Yes, the smaller Schnitgers in Groningen are wonderful instruments. Very good for Bach! Piet Wiersma’s Bach cycle is on YouTube and he uses them, including Uithuizen,
  19. Cheese

    Cheese Bitter lover

    Yes, I was very impressed by this too, and I love the way he plays. Olafsson seems to have found a new way to play Bach, at least I have never heard anything resembling before.

    STILL, well I am no musician apart from singing in a symphonic choir, I have great difficulty accepting his forte playing around 4:30, especially his bass notes are horrible in my ears. I could imagine there is some logical reason that makes this crescendo necessary, yet I still believe someone like Dinu Lipatti would have managed to keep the tension throughout the piece without such a crescendo which IMO just destroys an otherwise wonderful interpretation.

    Maybe someone can enlighten me ?
  20. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    The whole thing's bad -- sentimental and solemn. JSB must be spinning in his grave.

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