Friday, October 18, 2013

Montage # 127 – Back to Bach – Orgelwerke

As of November 15, 2013, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 15 novembre 2013, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

pcast127- Playlist

===================================================================== English Commentary – le commentaire français suit

Today’s “Back to Bach” post presents three organists, three organs and three very different works (or set of works).

Presumably composed early in Bach's career, BWV 582 stands out as being Bach’s only Passacaglia and Fugue (compared to the many preludes, fantasias and toccatas and fugues found in the BWV catalog!) It is one of his most important and well-known works, and an important influence on 19th and 20th century passacaglias (notably, the ones by British-Canadian composer and organist HealyWillan ).

Ian Tracey performs the work in this montage on the grand Blancfort organ at Our Lady of Incarnation church in Marbella, Spain. The organ is known as “organo del sol mayor”, which I can take as a double-entendre to mean either “high Sun” or “G Major”.

Returning to the Bach organ catalog, eight after a set of 21 preludes and fugues for organ, we see a set of eight “short” preludes and fugues (BWV 553-560). They were believed for a long time to have been composed by one of Bach's pupils, Johann Tobias Krebs, based on certain unusual characteristics of the music when played on the organ. These pieces came to be played often on the organ in the 19th and 20th centuries, and were especially useful as teaching pieces for beginners.

Dutch organist and composer Piet Kee performs these works today on the Christiaan Müller organ of the St.-Bavokerk in the Dutch city of Haarlem, one of the world's most historically important organs, whose original construction dates back 1735-38, thus contemporary to Bach’s lifetime.

The same cannot be said of the 1960 Casavant et Frères organ at All Saints' Kingsway Anglican Church in Toronto (Interestingly, the organ was entirely refurbished a few years ago), where we have a rare performance by Glenn Gould at the organ. Part of Gould’s training at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory (1942-46) included organ studies under Frederick C. Silvester, and Gould was known to have performed at Sunday services as a child.

In 1962, Gould recorded selections from Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of the Fugue) on the organ, and an overlapping set of selections on the piano as part of a CBC broadcast series (in 1967 and later in 1981). 

The Art of the Fugue is a monumental (unfinished) masterpiece, written in the last decade of his life. It consists of 14 fugues and 4 canons, each using some variation of a single principal subject, and generally ordered to increase in complexity.

"The governing idea of the work", as Bach specialist Christoph Wolff put it, is "an exploration in depth of the contrapuntal possibilities inherent in a single musical subject."

I think you will love this music too

Commentaire français

Notre montage d’aujourd’hui considère l’œuvre pour orgue de Jean-Sébastien Bach. J’ai retenu trois œuvres principales, jouées par trois organistes sur trois orgues différents.

Commençons par la dernière sélection, l’Art de la fugue. Il s’agît ioci d’une œuvre majeure (et inachevée) conçue autour d’un air qui est transformé dans quatorze études de contrepoint.

Voici une version intégrale, jouée par Herbert Tachezi:

Notre montage retient une sélection interprétée par Glenn Gould sur un orgue Casavant et Frères datant des années 1960. Le commentaire anglais ci-haut propose quelques extraits joués part Gould au piano – son instrument de prédilection. Le jeu de Gould au piano est plus « typique » de notre pianiste, alors que son approche à l’orgue est moins parsemée de maniérismes. L’enregistrement à l’orgue précède les prestations YouTube au piano par près de 20 ans…

Si on considère l’œuvre pour orgue de Bach en termes généraux, les formes les plus usitées sont ses nombreux chorals et ses diptyques du genre « prélude et fugue », « toccata et fugue », etc. Son unique passacaille et fugue est la première sélection du montage, et est interprété sur un orgue « moderne  d’une cathédrale espagnole par Ian Tracey.

L’ensemble de huit courts préludes et fuguesqui complètent le montage fait partie de l’excellente intégrale Bach du Hollandais Piet Kee. Il s’exécute sur le célèbre orgue de la Bavokirke d’Haarlem aux Pays Bas – un orgue qui est cité dans (de toutes œuvres littéraires) le roman Moby Dick, oû l’auteur y compare les dents du cétacé aux tuyaux de l’orgue d’Haarlem!

Bonne écoute