Thursday, August 17, 2017

I consider this my last integral set of Bach's complete Organ music, unless.......

My last integral set, unless Christopher Herrick's Hyperion set is re-released, which I think is doubtful, or finally Ewald Kooimans take on Coronata will be entering the market never know😊

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann. (1710-1784) Complete Harpsichord Music, CD 2.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 16-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 2 from 6.
Recording dates: March 2015.
Venue: Villa Scalea, Palermo, Italy.
Sound engineer: Marco Casiglia.
Total time: 79:24.

Works on this CD.
Sonata in C, F, E minor, C, D, E flat, C.

Works performed by:
Claudio Astronio.

Instrument used:
Ugo Casiglia (2014) after Johann Adolph Specken. Germany 1748.

I am a happy man after listening to CD 2, and reached the conclusion that this journey through Friedemann's works is highly satisfying. Astronio has a pleasing clarity of voicing and plays with great delicacy. Boldness when needed, the textures are always considered in sensitivity, so at all times his playing is substantial. His technique is always in the service of the music, which makes his performance lithe and transparent. His embellishments are idiomatic, and he offers delicacies that epicureans will wish to savour on. Irrepressible moods, in which he delivers rapturous passage work. I am content. A worthwhile set, this release is mandatory.  The recording is an example of pure clarity.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The almost Complete Symphonies. CD 22. Symphony No.50 & 54.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: April 2013.
Gift from an American friend.
First listen: 4-6-2014.
Second listen: 15-8-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 22 from 32.
Recording dates: June/July 1993 & November 1994.
Venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Sound engineer: ?
Total time: 56:59.
Reference set.

Works on this disc:
Symphony No. 50 in C major.
No. 54 in G major, first version.

Works performed by:
The academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.
Played on Authentic instruments.

Both works are high on my list for the likability award, with the beautiful second movement of No. 50, and the ravishing finale, and the No. 54 for its long second movement which never outstays its welcome. And the last finale in C major, a Prestissimo almost flies out of its tracks. He would surely get a speed ticket for going too fast😀  The playing and recording is impeccable.

Walther, Johann Gottfried. (1684-1748) Complete Organ Music. Concerto transcriptions I. CD 11.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: November 2015.
First listen: 15-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 11 from 12.
Recording dates: April/May/November 2013.
Venue: Church of Sant'Antonio, Abate, Padua, Italy.
Sound engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Total time: 58:18.

Works on this CD.
Concerto del Signor Albinoni in F & B flat.
Blamont in A.
Gentili in A.
Gregori in B flat.
Mancia in G minor.
Meck in C.

Performed by:
Simone Stella.

Instrument used: 
Francesco Zanin 2006.

Well written transcriptions, but of a totally different kind compared with the Chorale settings, which are the greatest part of this box. One has to re-attune his ears to the worldly concertos, which took me some time. But they are fun and substantial.  They have a less inward frame, but a pleasing clarity of voicing which is a plus too. Unshowy playing it is, but then it does not need a fireworks approach. The textures are light and pleasing and all is wonderfully transparent.  Sound is back to it's usual high standard after a lapse with disc 10.

The Leiden Choirbooks Volume IV. ( De Leiden Koorboeken)

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: April 2017.
First listen: 15-8-2017.
Label: Etcetera.
Recording dates: January/ February 2013.
Venue: Laurentiuskerk, Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands.
Sound engineer: Tom Dunnebier.
Total time: 57:31 & 48:08.

Composers on both discs:
Thomas Crecquillon.
Johannes Lupi.
Jacobus Clemens non Papa.
Johannes Richafort.
Philippe Verdelot.
Goessen Jonckers.*
Nicolas Payen.*
Ciprianus de Rore.
Johannes Flamingus.*
Estacius Barbion.*
Franciscus Ijsenbaert.*

Performed by:
Egidius Kwartet & College, Peter de Groot.

All the composers marked with an * were unknown to me, and it was indeed a pleasant surprise to hear these works for the first time. It is already the Fourth volume in this series. A very successful venture, of which Volume 4 is almost perfect in the way it is sung, aided by an almost State of the Art recording. Some slight intonation problems on the first disc, and at certain moments one of the sopranos pushed out her notes to loud and so producing a disharmonious sound. But really minor points. I have enjoyed both discs in one go. The sound of this choir is becoming a cultivated one, with a winning purity that offers a lucid outlook into the realm of the spiritual.  They sing with a touching grace, with, it must be said again, careful dynamic gradations. They clearly listen to each other more carefully as before, and so come closer to being an top ensemble. From a starting point of just every voice for its own, they now have an integrated sound in which every voice is important but the the sum of all is the illuminating factor in success. For then the superb finesse will emerge.
The music is beautifully executed, and there is no trace of an overly manicured interpretation, but a choir that sings naturally and unforced. Pure enchantment!

Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. (1562-1621) The complete Keyboard Works. CD 1.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: March 2015.
First listen: 18-3-2015.
Second listen: 29-7-2015.
Third listen: 15-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 1 from 6.
Booklet gives dates, stops, some info about Sweelinck, some thoughts of Berben, pictures of the organ plus history, no registrations, but no explanations about the music at all.  
Recording dates: October 2009.
Recording venue: St Stephanus Church, Tangermunde.
Recording engineers: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 74:36.

Works performed: 
Fantasia a 4 d2, SwWV 259.
Fantasia a 4 Echo d3. SwWV 260.
Fantasia g1. SwWV 270.
Allein zu dir Herr Jesu Christ. SwWV 300.
Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ. SwWV 305.
Jesus Christus unser Heiland. SwWV 306.
Psalm 23, Mein Huter und mein Hirt. SwWV 310.
Fantasia auf die Manier eines Echo C1. SwWV 253.

Performed by:

Leon Berben.

Instrument used:
Hans Scherer jr, organ (1624)
a1=486 Hz (15C)
Stimmungsart: Mitteltönig.
Winddruck: 75 mm WS.

In contrast with the NM classic box which holds nine cd's, there are only six in the Aeolus box. It must be said that NM classics also included the works of which the provenance is not satisfactorily proved, or at least doubtful, and that means 3 cd's less. 

I have the NM classic box also next to me to make comparisons, if not of all works, then of significant  compositions such as SwWV 260, 253, 270 and 300. I could tell a long story about all the differences but that would defeat the object of my observations and neither here nor there. The main difference is in tempi, the use of registrations, the manner of playing, and the amount of research that Berben put in. I have the distinct feeling that Berben adds something which is missing in the the performances of the NM classics set. And to my surprise not one of them is on the same technical level as Berben, apart maybe from Leo van Doeselaar and Stef Tuinstra. It does not mean that the NM classics set is not less than excellent, it is, but as far as the music goes Berben puts it on a higher level, with a clear cut approach, lucid playing, and above all a spiritual dimension that is not always found in the other set. He is more alert and less sluggish as his counterparts on NM classics, plus the fact that his articulation is beyond par. This is Sweelinck in pure form, at least to my ears. Berben is one of the top organists in the world, and this you will easily hear.  The influence of his teachers, Leonhardt and Kooiman is evident. In short this interpretation ticks more buttons as the NM classic set. And as a bonus you get State of the Art sound.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bach, J.S (1685-1750).The Complete Organ Works. (The Aeolus Edition) CD 8. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 7-1-2015.
Second listen: 14-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 8 from 19.
Extensive booklet 251 pages, with pictures of the organs, 
Recording dates: April 2008.
Venue: Protestant Church Bouxwiller, France.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 62:53.
Reference performance.
State of the Art sound.

Works on this CD:

Leipziger Chorale, BWV 661-668.
Partite diverse sopra : Sei gegrusset Jesu gutig", BWV 768.

Instrument used:
The Johann-Andreas Silbermann organ (1778) by Ewald Kooiman.

This box is an ongoing pleasure, for Bach's music is presented in a formidable way, that proves this set to be an touchstone if it comes to authenticity. I have heard many sets with the complete recordings of Bach's organ works, the last one being by Gerhard Weinberger on CPO, which is also an authoritative set but on North German organs, but that gives a totally different musical picture. The Silbermann organs sound as if they are made for Bach's music. Ewald Kooiman is a dedicated and passionate organist, who has many things to say. He puts just the right amount of balance in his playing, and never accentuates more as there is in the score, so you get the feeling that it cannot be done otherwise. The disposition of this organ is unbelievably beautiful. If I hear the registrations in the Partite diverse sopra, and the colours drench my ears, I count myself lucky being able to participate in it's lustre. 

This cd marks the last recording Kooiman did, dying a year later. What an immense loss this was, you can hear in the first 8 cd's.

I consider this my last integral set of Bach's complete Organ music, unless.......

My last integral set, unless Christopher Herrick's Hyperion set is re-released, which I think is doubtful, or finally Ewald Kooimans ...