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Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue BWV 582

In the fall of 1717 Bach was invited to a musical contest in the court of Dresden with the real organist Louis Marchand (then considered the greatest French musician, above Couperin and Rameau). Marchand peered from a side bench night practice, retiring at the end of the music. The next day, a number of senior people gathered to hear the dispute. After a long while, to the astonishment of the audience, eventually learned that Marchand had left that same day, very early in a post-chaise. Only on the battlefield, Bach revealed the weapons were ready to face the Gaul: it seems plausible to take in hand especially for the occasion Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 582).

vast conception of cosmogony, the passacaglia is built on a theme of inexorable logic in a slow rotating ¾ massive inertia that seems to return the same way forever, in an inevitable diatonic gravitation, in the best tradition of medieval art as a reflection of the perfection of creation. In the first eight bars is exposed on the pedal ostinato theme that over twenty variations of Bach develop relentlessly, using the rate as structural and directional:

Topic: protobrahmsianas syncopated suspensions in C minor creates a solemn,
1: in which suspense is generated harmonic in the gradual elevation of the notes in the manual.
2: The sequences are reversed in a mirror, generating a first p (il) ar.
3: The pace gradually pushes the fine texture to
4: a figure of irregular meter (eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes) which offers greater diversity
5: with new leaps of octaves. The theme is altered for the first time, shimmering.
6: ascending scales of sixteenth show doubts, imbalance, push, fluidity,
7: immediately countered by a partner in the mirror with more complex harmonies.
8: Scales tilting and converging tides abandoned, before
9: the role hypnotic rhythm of a quarter-offs between the voices.
10: Axis of symmetry of the passacaglia , where cascades of sixteenth notes in chords flying over the issue.
11: Surprisingly Bach mutes the pedal, suddenly spurring the issue to the soprano range and variation to the bass clef.
12: The texture thickens in waves of four sixteenth generating the first climax, while
13: anticlimax therefore reduces the voices at a time, flowery phrasing cantabile.
14: The theme ostinato fades into quiet, implied as a shadow on the fleeting arpeggios,
15: Ghostly hovering four octaves in this deep change that closes the middle section.
16: Outbreak triumphant pedal dissonant harmonies accompanied by six voices,
17: lightweight spun triplets, firmly cemented pillar conclusive in C minor.
18: Solidified cement harmonious symmetry requires the reflection of irregular metric of 5 and 4 and
19: the mimesis of dense syncopated layers 2 and 1.
20: The change doubles the upper voices concluding a bilateral riveting counterpoint chords.

To escape the deadlock interval Bach crown the work with a complex double fugue that springs from the last chord of the passacaglia , extending the move melodic rhythm typical of the genre to a new dimension harmonic and contrapuntal, swapping every possible layer and texture, perhaps with a sense of liberation in heaven.

As for the sonic palette, as the common practice of the eighteenth century is very likely that no changes were referred to the record within the same section to avoid weakening the musical structure. Bach seeks changes color through articulation, tessitura and texture, for example in the central part of the texture thins through arpeggios, or at the conclusion where the sum of 5 voices audible exploits a crescendo effect. However, a registration with a massive pedal (like the 32 feet that loved Bach in Weimar) drowns out the manual in some variations that seem to call for dynamic gradations. So infer what might have been the paradigm of the body part is not easy, since Bach's autograph do not include (almost) never shown timbre. This absence is not due to indifference to color noise, but the defense numantina its jurisdiction and authority of professional secrecy. This was revealed in the expert reports prepared on building new organs, "Nobody knew the records like my father. That knowledge died with him "(Carl Philipp Emanuel).

She plays the voice key twice, and he is memorizing and building in his mind, architecture, articulation of each line, typing and logging. Helmut Walcha, blind, needs the help of his wife to learn the music then erected sober, austere, with impressive solemnity, in a mystical personal communion that seems to exclude the outside world: " Bach opens a new world vision . " Registration, subject to deep structural sense, is not very wide, but very effective and consistent clarity of counterpoint, maintaining tension throughout the building unharmed. Moderate pace stable but fluid and tempo, disciplined architectural connection of the sentences, by transparently polyphony of voices in fine balance and building a substantial section to section crescendo of sound. Although pioneered Walcha romantic organ refuse to return to the historic instruments, the sumptuous legato and textures are vacuous powerful historicist sense has prevailed since then, but from Then there are satiated musical sense. Nobody like Walcha emphasizes the sudden arrest of all movement in the Neapolitan sixth chord (m. 285), expressive emphasis of color and apotheosis of all the work. Casper Frans Schnitger followed the golden rule in its most minute details in the construction in 1725 of the great organ of St. Laurenskerk, Alkmaar (Netherlands), although at the time of this recording (DG, 1963) there had been changes in pitch and registration. Still, the tonal majesty of the instrument, Walcha loyalty and became famous throughout the world, is shown in the excellent sound, punishable by a microphone placement close to excess, while sometimes blows in the attack contains notes on some records (the condition of the body was already badly damaged and was restored in depth soon after).

The final step, strict and thoughtful of Lionel Rogg (Harmonia Mundi, 1970) is the shadow of the great Walcha. Registration is varied within the proximity, simplicity, kindness, the anointing with the music. Also the purity of phrasing, without being clinical, is a garment ecclesiastical severity. Johann Andreas Silbermann built in 1761 an instrument warm and friendly sound in the manuals, a pedal velvety, perfectly integrated into the smoldering and warm acoustics of the Cathedral of Arlesheim (Switzerland). The subsequent recording for EMI (1975) on a modern organ (1965) Metzler of St. Peter's Cathedral in Geneva (Switzerland) has more emotion in the registration, but suffers from a distant sound decision.

following two interpretations would form a great combination: Peter Hurford makes a first part of the passacaglia (up la variación 7) aséptica, con un estridente registro plenum , tan monótono y poco imaginativo como el tempo empleado; entonces, comienza a tomarse libertades intervencionistas con los tempi , y la registración se revela vital, rítmicamente extrovertida, de concepto orquestal, siempre con la necesaria nitidez. El soberbio instrumento fue construido en 1964 por Casavant Frèresde en la iglesia Our Lady of Sorrows de Toronto, y posee un poderoso pedal atrompetado, recogiendo el énfasis horizontal de los órganos de la Alemania septentrional. Espaciosa toma sonora acorde al nivel de Decca en 1979, es decir, magnífica. 

Por el contrario, Michael Murray, modelado en las interpretaciones de Schweitzer, desvela el ostinato suavemente, como si perteneciera a un virtuoso coral, lo que junto al tempo ingrávido, tranquilo y sin embellecimientos añadidos en las siguientes variaciones, provocan un estado de calma y cierta tensa espera del consiguiente crescendo a través de las ligeras registraciones. Pero, quizá lastrada por una toma sonora excesivamente resonante y lejana (Telarc, 1979), la lectura se disuelve en una fría bruma indefinida e inofensiva. Incomprensiblemente Murray rompe la naturaleza monolítica de la obra al crear un silencio between passacaglia and fugue (the accent is weak at just the first begs a attacca senza pause). The Methuen Hall organ was built in Germany in 1863, transported to the U.S. (Boston) and primordial large concert instrument, and finally located in 1909 in Massachusetts. Multiple reconstructions suffered in the last century have given a peculiar sound.

As Billy the Kid , Marie-Claire Alain admits that the driving force of his interpretation is faith. That same faith that he shares with the author of a work through the notes is fundamental concepts of theology, probably by less need for a devoted listener to open his heart to his god. In addition to the subtle nuances that provide freshness and freedom in the rhythmic force in the lightweight phrasing, fluent in arrhythmia, its greatest virtue is the registration, balanced but very rich colors, capable of conveying a sense of restraint, emotional and human always serve the music and not vice versa. The ornamental effect accompanies the net sum of the building, with a tempo which gradually abating. The instrument, built by Christoph Treutmann in 1734 in the Stiftskirche of Grauhof, Goslar (Germany) presents a homogeneous sound, where formidable 32-foot pedal, which was considered by his contemporaries as "thunderous ", is relegated to a quiet background until the final variations which emerges strongly. Recording wise, sometimes in excess reverb blurs counterpoint (Erato, 1993).

Again I bring up the difficulty of playing in the domestic setting of deep bass without distortion: A 32-foot tube gives a fundamental frequency of 19 Hz, a C in hearing threshold. To restore the sound requires not only adequate speaker system but also a large hall capable of hosting a wavelength of 17 meters. Sound making the next record (DG, 1983) is literally devastating, as I found in an unforgettable listening to realistic levels (thanks, Manrique) through gigantic screens Mirage bipolar governed by a venerable triodes. The organ, built in 1730 by Rudolf Garrels on the Grote in Maasluis Klerk, has some sinister shady records whose roughness frightens and at the opening. The strong personality of Tom Koopman, always in search of the stimulant, excels primarily in the vibrant yet elegant decoration, the contortions, rhythmic articulation, the sense of spontaneity and improvisation to round rhetoric, the interventionist and recreatorio. His rhythmic animation, occasionally speeding up the pulse of the downbeat, long sentences tend to follow a record round truly plenum, which can sometimes obscure the detail escaped. Dynamism and intimacy, Bach contrast volumes. Articulatory variants copies legato - staccato . The tempo is rested until 14 where a sudden change takes panache to conclusion.
Koopman has recorded the Passacaglia and Fugue at other times, never in such extraordinary technical conditions: the Riepp organ of 1766 in the Basilica of Saints Alexander and Theodora Ottobeuren, gritty, pugnacious flavor, which is taken to its limits (Brilliant, 1989), and for Teldec in 1994 in the same Garrels of Maasluis, but collected less presence. Koopman Indeed, as the teacher , never reveals the registrations used.

The organ of St. Martini Church in Groningen (Netherlands) is the only instrument in the world that holds the huge logs 32 feet built by Arp Schnitger in 1692. The sound is robust and strong, not particularly transparent. From a discrete pedal, warm home, Bernard Foccroulle posed an extended meditation metaphysics of his time Bach, withdrawn, hieratic, literally, away from any attempt symphony or gimmicky. Tempi living combined with attractive plateadamente registrations on the fluid phrasing, which favors the continuation of contrapuntal discourse. An opulent as a stock Bach old, returning to the readability of Walcha in tempo and Registration (Ricercar, 2008).

Other interesting records documenting the evolution of the concept of interpretation of Bach's organ output (available on request):

theologian, philosopher, mathematician, physician, Nobel Peace Prize, Albert Schweitzer took music since childhood, and was local organist since age nine. Heir to the Romantic musical tradition, its implementation is presented in a slow tempo, statutory fees even for mid-century. The monaural sound poor (Andromeda, 1951) is saturated and collected in the distance, so that you can barely see el instrumento que el propio Schweitzer diseñó en 1932 para la Iglesia de París en Günsbach (Alemania).

Edward Powers Biggs (Sony, 1965) también pertenece a la estirpe del estilo romántico , comenzando quietamente para ir construyendo paulatinamente en amplitud hacia el clímax en la variación 12. Un Bach jocoso, más lúdico que lírico, de registros aflautados, que evita la urgencia física de la culminación en las variaciones finales. Cristalina clearly in the body by Flentrop in 1957 for the Busch-Reisinger Museum of Harvard University.

Walter Kraft collects Germanic tradition of interpretation (continuous legato ) of mid-century. Of delinquent tempo, there's nothing particularly imaginative (except the curious ring of Frobenius pedal at the start), but rather operate as a prelude to the Lutheran service (but this work of Bach never had this feature.) Vox recording source contains a dirty sound environment in Krist Kinker in Tonder, Denmark (Musical Concepts, 1965).

Michel Chapuis starts quiet, with piping records (including pedal) but with little contrast, which reduces the magic crystal deconstruction of the chord ostinato variation 14. The strict maintenance of the pulse is indebted to Walcha. To highlight the range stereo recording (Valois Auvidis, 1967) Andersen modern instrument in the Redeemer Church in Copenhagen.

Despite the good initial choice of pedal intimate and tormented by Werner Jacob (EMI, 1975), in different variations phrasing shows rough, hurt the balance of voices, the pedal contrapuntally faint and confused (body Joachim Wagner, 1726, Cathedral of Brandenburg).

Hans Fagius choose the option sober, efficient, cold, delicate tempo. Except for small variations of the 3 plants, the entire work is executed with registration full organ (shear in the variation 16), assuming that the necessary changes in texture and dynamics are written in the score. The Brilliant edited by BIS recorded over 1987 is quite a sight, with the powerful pedal sticking out the sides of the picture, on an instrument Johan Niclas Leufsta CAHM, 1728 in Northem Bruk in Uppland (Sweden).

Wolfgang Rubsam applied vigorously rhythmic and historical deployment, although the thick making reece sound reverberation (Philips, 1977) does not allow proper evaluation of the flight lines. The instrument used is a modest Metzler, 1969 in St. Nikolaus, Frauenfeld (Switzerland).

The last recording made by Karl Richter (DG, 1978) retains its rigor and precision, rather uniform, steeped in tradition large joints Germanic romantic and out of step with current musicological criteria. De tempo so large that the ostinato on the pedal becomes exaggerated heaviness, however gets a technical mess at bar 102. Recording amazacotada surprisingly colorless and held in Freiberg Cathedral which houses the superb Gottfried Silbermann (1714) equipped with a wide variety of sounds, highlighting the grim pedal at first.

We can match two records based on the shared instrument, a large organ built by the family Schnitger in 1721 for St. Michaëlskerk in Zwolle (Netherlands) Zsigmond Szathmary has the advantage of a formidable presence soundtrack (RCA, JVC, 1978). The stability of loose tempo facilitates clarity of line, closely linked and drawn with smooth and beautiful records, which may lack a little more pressure in the concluding variations.
Meanwhile Wouter van den Broek (Brilliant, 1991) drawn from the same organ (restored in the meantime) a registration plenum much more intense and powerful, rich coloristic, but more blurred, hampered by a poorer sound takes the highly reverberant St. Michael.

Simon Preston (DG, 1991). Based on the technical accuracy of sickening staccato , polyphonic clarity is based on the brilliant but strongly contrasted registration, which also emphasizes the dynamic instrumental effects and suggests the staff, as the interesting waves in the variation 16. Modern instrument (Sauer, 1984) in St. Peter, in Waltrop (Germany) for great stage presence.

" A splendid instrument beyond all measure ": When Mozart visited Dresden greatly praised in the organ of the Catholic Hofkirche, a Gottfried Silbermann in 1755. It is therefore regrettable that the overwhelming choice of records by Herbert Tachezi (Teldec, 1984) was not properly distinguishing atrompetado more than the pedal that opens the work. Sobrereverberante bright and recording.

Heinz Balli struggle with monotonous efficiency an instrument (built by Thomas Schott in 1630 and completed by brothers Bossard in 1744) Klosterkirche in Muri (Switzerland), pedal colorist and aggressive sound that pours in torrents throughout the score (Denon, 1986).

Isoir André (Calliope, 1988), is sensationalist, egomaniac and poetic. The lightness of the tempo and tones (although sometimes gathered in a massive and confusing) tends to the impression of light construction, especially on the changes that close the passacaglia . Dynamic range and sense of spontaneity in the ornamentation strangely out of style in the most unexpected places. The organ was made by Joseph Gabler in Weingarten Benedictine Basilica (1750).

watercolor Olivier Vernet a gallant registration numb for a recording mate. Modern instrument (1994), built by Freytag-Aubertin in Saint Vincent (Lyon), with undulating ring pedal (Ligia Digital, 1995).

From the initial variation in registration starts Gerhard Weinberger plenum (which perhaps fits the composer's intentions: the most ancient manuscript sources entitle " pro pedal organ Passacaglia full "), however the massive texture variations plead 14-15 (my ears hurt) any other registration. The interpretation is aggressive and sharp ringtones choice. Strictly severe on the pulse of light but ascetic tempo, staccato emphasizing the pedal. The close takes sound (CPO, 1998) documents the instrument of Castle Altenburg (Germany), built by Tobias Trost in 1739 and whose construction expert professional Bach, driving may include a record of 32 feet, not initially foreseen, soft quiet voice.

As usual, Discovering Music from BBC Radio 3 explores the passacaglia and fugue in detail. And last but not least, I wish to thank Professor T. Smith from Northern Arizona University for your kind support. Your web is an example for us.



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