In this review, we will look into 5-LP Set , with its strikingly-handsome silver artwork and Archiv logo, is rather special:
• Limited-Edition, Numbered-Box Set
• The pressings from Optimal on 180 gsm vinyl stock
• Each set offers a free MP3 / FLAC 16-bit digital download
• Original LP front and back covers
• 16-page leaflet, with introduction on Archiv, and facsimiles of the inner pages of the original Archiv gatefold
Also, an importatnt note: The first 4 LPs in the set completely analogue recordings and just the fifth LP, which was recorded in 1982, is digital recording as im 80s aal recordings in DGG made as digital.
LPs LP SET OVERVIEW
• Helmut Walcha playing famous Bach organ works – one of Archiv’s first stereo recordings
• Karl Richter – early recordings of two joyous Bach cantatas, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV 51 and the wedding cantata Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten BWV 202
• Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Court Music by Muffat and Biber with Concentus Musicus Wien – one of only two recordings he made on Archiv
• Reinhard Goebel and Music Antiqua Köln’s classic French Baroque programme, Le Parnasse Francais
• Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert with Handel Concerti Grossi op. 6 nos. 9 – 12: an LP to die for, with the clarity and airiness of its recording, and the rhythm and feeling of its performances
Let's start to examine carefully each LP in this box set:
Helmut Walcha - J. S. Bach: Organ Works
Firstly, some notes about the artist:
Helmut Walcha (October 27, 1907 in Leipzig – August 11, 1991 in Frankfurt)
Born in Leipzig, Walcha was blinded at age 19 after vaccination for smallpox. Despite his disability, he entered the Leipzig Conservatory and became an assistant at the Thomaskirche to Günther Ramin, who was professor of organ at the conservatory and cantor at St. Thomas'. In 1929, Walcha accepted a position in Frankfurt am Main at the Friedenskirche and remained in Frankfurt for the rest of his life. From 1933 to 1938 he taught at the Hoch Conservatory. In 1938 he was appointed professor of organ at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt and organist of the Dreikönigskirche in 1946. He retired from public performance in 1981.
Walcha recorded Bach's complete works twice, once in mono (1947–52), and again in stereo from
Walcha also composed for the organ. He published four volumes of original chorale preludes (published by C. F. Peters and recorded in part by, for example, Renate Meierjürgen) as well as arrangements for organ of orchestral works written by others. He lectured on organ music and composition (illustrated by his own playing) at the Hoch Conservatory and the Frankfurt Musikhochschule.
One other contribution to music scholarship is his attempted completion of the final (unfinished) fugue of The Art of Fugue.
Walcha taught many significant American organists of the twentieth century who travelled to Germany as Fulbright scholars: these include Robert Anderson, David Boe, Margaret Leupold Dickinson, Melvin Dickinson, Delbert Disselhorst, Paul Jordan, David Mulbury, Fenner Douglass, Jane Douglass, Grigg and Helen Fountain, Barbara Harbach, Charles Krigbaum, George Ritchie, Russell Saunders - all of whom became major teachers and performers after their studies abroad.
Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565:
The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. First published in 1833 through the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn, the piece quickly became popular, and is now one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire.
The work was first published by Breitkopf & Härtel in late 1833 as part of a collection of Bach's organ works. The edition was conceived and partly prepared by Felix Mendelssohn, who had BWV 565 in his repertoire already by 1830. Mendelssohn's opinion of the piece, expressed in one of his letters, was that it was "at the same time learned and something for the commo]people." The first major public performance was also by Mendelssohn, on 6 August 1840 in Leipzig. Later in the 19th century, Franz Liszt adopted the piece into his organ repertoire.
Three short passages follow, each reiterating a short motif and doubled at the octave. The section ends with a diminished seventh chord which resolved into the tonic, D minor, through a flourish. The second section of the Toccata is a number of loosely connected figurations and flourishes; the pedal switches to the dominant key, A minor. This section segues into the third and final section of the Toccata, which consists almost entirely of a passage doubled at the sixth and comprising reiterations of the same three-note figure, similar to doubled passages in the first section. After a brief pedal flourish, the piece ends with a D minor chord.
The subject of the four-voice fugue is made up entirely of sixteenth notes, with an implied pedal point set against a brief melodic subject that first falls, then rises. Such violinistic figures are frequently encountered in Baroque music and that of Bach, both as fugue subjects and as material in non-imitative pieces. Unusually, the answer is in the subdominant key, rather than the traditional dominant. Although technically a four-part fugue, most of the time there are only three voices, and some of the interludes are in two, or even one voice (notated as two). Although only simple triadic harmony is employed throughout the fugue, there is an unexpected C minor subject entry, and furthermore, a solo pedal statement of the subject—a unique feature for a Baroque fugue. Immediately after the final subject entry, the composition resolves to a sustained B♭ major chord. A multi-sectional coda follows, marked Recitativo. Although only 17 bars long, it progresses through five tempo changes. The last bars are played Molto adagio, and the piece ends with a minor plagal cadence.
Sonata No.6 in G, BWV 530:
At some time in the vicinity of 1727 to 1730, Johann Sebastian Bach finished compiling a set of six organ sonatas that, records show, he intended as practice pieces for his oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. It seems that the purpose was fulfilled; W.F. Bach got a prestigious appointment as organist of the Sophienkirche of Dresden, in 1733, and became widely known for his outstanding playing. The pieces in the set are sometimes called trio sonatas because in texture they resemble works of that period made up of three independent musical lines; two in the treble function more or less as a duet and a third is in the pedal register of the organ.
Bach tended to follow the form of the Italian concerto, particularly examples of it by Vivaldi, in shaping these six sonatas. Whether or not it is true that Bach wrote them as teaching pieces for his son, the works are in fact excellent both as concert works and as practice pieces.
Prelude and Fugue, in C major, BWV 547:
The 9/8 meter of the prelude is unusual, as are the repeated notes in the midst of the rising scale that begins the theme, allowing Bach to cover the range of an octave while playing ten notes. Its tame, pastoral atmosphere continues throughout, supported by masterful polyphony. The quasi-ostinato pedal part gives a constant reminder of the 9/8 meter and derives from the soprano voice in the second measure of the prelude. At times, the manual writing looks forward to some of the textures we hear in the Goldberg Variations.
Bach creates a seventy-two-measure fugue. This results in a highly concentrated work that is intensely imitative. Because the last note of the subject itself initiates a push to the dominant, it becomes an active participant in the developmental passages. Thus the subject is part of both the harmonically straying and stable sections of the fugue. This makes it difficult for the listener to find a foothold in the piece, as an appearance of the subject is not necessarily a return to familiar territory. Unlike some of Bach's earlier fugues, the repetitions of the subject are not simply that--references to the opening material--but provide a subtle way of working through the fugal process. The harmony moves toward "flat" keys, finally resting on the tonic minor for a time. Bach delays the entry of the pedal until roughly two-thirds of the way through the fugue. When it does appear, it begins with the subject in augmentation and in stretto with both the primary version of the subject and its inversion. After this dramatic entry of the pedals, the path back to the tonic begins. As if to make up for the earlier harmonic peregrinations, the fugue closes over a sustained tonic pedal.
Sonata No.1 in E flat, BWV 525:
The process of condensing the by-then venerable trio sonata medium into music for a single keyboard player -- with the three original voices assigned to two manuals and the pedals -- was not accomplished in a single bold step. Bach's Three-Part Inventions of the early 1720s draw heavily on trio sonata idioms, as do several other keyboard works (the B minor Prelude in the first volume of the Well-Tempered Clavier being a key example). And we must also remember that while living in Cöthen in the early 1720s Bach had condensed the trio sonata texture for two players (e.g. the Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019). Still, BWV 525 is something striking and new: a full-fledged chamber sonata for a single player, and probably the first of the organ trio sonatas to be composed.
Recording Date: September 1956
Maria Stader, Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter - J. S. Bach: Cantatas
Stader first achieved fame for her interpretations of Mozart and her collaborations with conductor Ferenc Fricsay on works such as Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, The Abduction from the Seraglio, and the Great Mass, as well as Verdi's Messa da Requiem. She won the Geneva International Music Competition in 1939, but although she "seemed poised for major stardom... her career was delayed by the outbreak of World War II," according to Opera News. Later in her career, Stader acquired a reputation as an outstanding Bach interpreter, especially with Karl Richter and Ferenc Fricsay. She recorded the Requiem by Antonín Dvořák with Karel Ančerl, and Beethoven's opera Fidelio (as Marzelline) with Hans Knappertsbusch.
Her concert tours had taken her around the world. Besides Europe and America, she sang in Japan, South Africa, and South America. Stader sang in various festivals, including the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival, at the Prades Festival and at the Aspen Music Festival. She sang under the leadership of many well-known conductors including Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Eugene Ormandy, George Szell, Carl Schuricht, Rafael Kubelík, Bruno Walter, Hermann Scherchen, Otto Klemperer, Ernest Ansermet and Dean Dixon. Until 1951, she taught at the Zurich Conservatory (merged in 1999 into the School of Music, Drama, and Dance (HMT), itself merged in 2007 into the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)) and later held master classes there. She died in Zürich on April 27, 1999.
Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen Cantata, BWV 51:
The cantata is scored for solo soprano, trumpet, two violins, viola and continuo. It is the only church cantata by Bach scored for solo soprano and trumpet.
1. Aria: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen
2. Recitative: Wir beten zu dem Tempel an
3. Aria: Höchster, mache deine Güte
3. Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren
4. Finale: Alleluja
The music is concertante and virtuoso for both the trumpet and the soloist. The first aria and the concluding Alleluja are in the style of an Italian concerto. The first aria is in da capo form, with extended coloraturas. The only recitative is first accompanied by the strings, a second part is secco but arioso The second aria is also accompanied only by the continuo "quasi ostinato" which supports expressive coloraturas of the voice. The lines in the continuo, in constant movement in 12/8 time seem to constantly rise, towards the addressed "Höchster" (Highest). The chorale is a chorale fantasia, with the soprano singing the unadorned melody to a trio of two violins and continuo. The chorale leads without a break to a concluding fugue "Alleluja" with the trumpet, bringing the cantata to a particularly festive close.
Cantata No.202 "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" (Wedding Cantata), BWV 202:
Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (Yield now, troubling shadows), BWV 202, is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, most likely composed for a wedding in Köthen around 1718, possibly his own to Anna Magdalena on 3 December 1721 where she might have sung it herself. It is one of Bach's most recorded cantatas. The aria "Sich üben im Lieben" (To practice sweet courtship, to joyously cuddle) is frequently performed as a concert piece.
The work is scored for a solo soprano, oboe, violin I and II, viola, and basso continuo. It consists of nine movements, interspersing arias with varied texture and recitative with continuo. The librettist is not known with certainty, but Harald Streck suspects Salomon Franck.
1.Aria (soprano, oboe, violins, viola, continuo) "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten"
2.Recitative (soprano, continuo) "Die Welt wird wieder neu"
3.Aria (soprano, continuo) "Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden"
4.Recitative (soprano, continuo) "Drum sucht auch Amor sein Vergnügen"
5.Aria (soprano, solo violin, continuo) "Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen"
6.Recitative (soprano, continuo) "Und dieses ist das Glücke"
7.Aria (soprano, oboe, continuo) "Sich üben im Lieben"
8.Recitative (soprano, continuo) "So sei das Band der keuschen Liebe"
9.Aria – Gavotte (soprano, oboe, violins, viola, continuo) "Sehet in Zufriedenheit"
Recording Date: August 1959
Biber/Muffat: Suites & Sonatas
He is most well known for the remarkably articulate and informative performance directions printed along with his collections of string pieces Florilegium Primum and Florilegium Secundum (First and Second Bouquets) in 1695 and 1698.
His works are strongly influenced by both French and Italian composers:
Sonatas for various instruments (armonico tributo 1682);
Orchestral suites (florilegium primum & secundum 1695);
12 Concerti grossi (auserlesene... instrumental Musik 1701) re-using some thematic material from armonico tributo
12 Toccatas for the organ as well as other pieces : passacaglia, chaconne, air with variations (Apparatus musico-organisticus 1690);
some partitas for the harpsichord, kept as a manuscript
several religious works (notably three masses, Salve Regina, etc.) from which only Missa in labore requies for twenty-four parts is preserved;
3 operas ("Marina Armena" - music lost; "Königin Marianne die verleumdete Unschuld" - music lost; "La fatali felicità di Plutone" - music lost).
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern (12 August 1644 (baptised) – 3 May 1704)
Born in the small Bohemian town of Kremsier (Wartenberg) (Stráž pod Ralskem), Biber worked at Graz and Kroměříž before he illegally left his Kremsier (Kroměříž) employer (Prince-Bishop Carl
Biber was one of the most important composers for the violin in the history of the instrument. His technique allowed him to easily reach the 6th and 7th positions, employ multiple stops in intricate polyphonic passages, and explore the various possibilities of scordatura tuning. He also wrote one of the earliest known pieces for solo violin, the monumental passacaglia of the Mystery Sonatas. During Biber's lifetime, his music was known and imitated throughout Europe. In the late 18th century he was named the best violin composer of the 17th century by music historian Charles Burney. In the late 20th century Biber's music, especially the Mystery Sonatas, enjoyed a renaissance. Today, it is widely performed and recorded.
Fasciculus 8 - Indissolubilis Amicitia in E major
2. Les Courtisans
4. Les Gendarmes
5. Les Bossus
7. Sarabande pour le Génie de l'Amitié
Exquisitioris harmoniae instrumentalis gravi-jucundae
Concerto 1: Bona Nova in D minor 10.
1. Sonata. Grave - Allegro
2. Ballo. Allegro
Sonata à 6 Die Pauern Kirchfahrt genandt vom H. Biber
1. Sonata (Adagio-Presto) 1
2. Die Pauern Kirchfahrt
Sonata a 2 violini, trombone, violone in D minor 4.
1. (Allegro non troppo)
2. (Poco allegro)
6. (Poco allegro)
Fidicinium sacro-profanum Sonata 8 in B flat major 13.
3. Presto - Adagio
Battalia à 10
2. Die liderliche Gesellschaft von allerley Humor
4. Der Mars
7. Die Schlacht
8. Lamento der Verwundten Musquetirer (Adagio)
Recording Date: March 1965
Le Parnasse Francais
to the performance of the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The group recorded extensively for Archiv Produktion and received numerous awards, including the Grand Prix International du Disque, Gramophone Award, Diapason d’or, and Grammy nominations.
The ensemble disbanded after more than 30 years of touring, recording and performing in 2007. Reinhard Goebel will concentrate on conducting larger orchestras in both ancient and modern repertoire. Musica Antiqua Köln's last recording for Archiv, 'Flute-Quartetts' by Telemann, 2005, was a collaboration with the Swiss recorder virtuoso Maurice Steger.
Marin Marais's Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris:"The Bells of St. Genevieve" in English, is a work by Marin Marais written in 1723 for viol, violin and harpsichord with basso continuo. It can be considered a passacaglia or a chaconne, with a repeating D, F, E bass line. Being a student of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, it is perhaps Marais' most famous composition that explores the various techniques of the viol.
The work begins with 4 measures of the bass line played by the continuo and viol, then, on the 5th measure the violin takes over the melody. Throughout the piece, the violin and viol take turns with the melody. The viol part is of great difficulty because of Marais's mastery of that instrument.
The centerpiece is not the melody, the violin, but the viol. His work can be thought of as something to showcase the violist's skill, despite that it does not always have the melody.
Tombeau de Monsieur Lully is a musical composition (earlier, in early 16th century, a poem) commemorating the death of a notable individual. The term derives from the French word for "tomb" or "tombstone". The vast majority of tombeaux date from the 17th century and were composed for lute or other plucked string instruments. The genre gradually fell out of use during the 18th century, but reappeared in the early 20th. Here we listen Jean-Féry Rebel composition.
François Couperin's Sonata "La Sultane" is an unusual piece in our time, just as it was in Couperin's own; it has been found in only one French manuscript (not in Couperin's handwriting), whereas the two chamber pieces from the Les goûts réunis set included on the album are much more commonly heard. Scholars can't even agree on when La sultane was written, with dates from the early 1690s to 1710 having been proposed. And they're not sure who the titular sultaness might have been -- was she the wife of the Turkish Sultan, or someone else playfully (or memorially) so designated?
Marin Marais's Sonata à la Marésienne: "Un peu grave" (Somewhat solemnly) provides a noble and lyric major key introduction. "Lègérement" (Lightly) is an initially light-hearted sprightly dance with a lot of imitative counterpoint. In its mid-section the music in minor key becomes enthusiastically insistent and very punctuated, only to reconsider and return to its lighter footed-ness on the recapitulation of the major key theme. "Un peu gay" (Somewhat gaily) is a triple-meter dance with a slight hesitation built-in. The "Sarabande" is lyrical with a wonderful melody and surprising harmonic modulations. In the "Très vivement" (Very lively) section, a slowly ascending scale is surrounded by a whirlwind of figures moving four times its speed, until the violin begins to suddenly take on a fiery life of its own. There is a sudden, shocking major to minor (parallel key) modulation into the richly ornamented and harmonized "Gravement, doux" (Solemnly, sweetly) section. A "Gigue" in the major immediately follows. This is a happily skipping triple-meter dance with a brief B-section in the relative minor. The "Sonate" concludes with a slightly muted, tasteful version of the theme.
Recording Date:January 1978
G. F. Handel: Concerti Grossi
The English Concert was founded by Trevor Pinnock and others in November 1972. The date of
Their London debut was at the English Bach Festival in 1973, which led to their first recording in 1974, Sons of Bach harpsichord concertos, on CRD records.They first played at The Proms in 1980, and toured North America in 1983. The group gained much recognition from their prolific number of recordings with Archiv Produktion from 1978 until 1995, during which they recorded most of the major baroque repertoire.
Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.9 HWV327:The ninth concerto grosso is the only one that is undated in the original manuscript, probably because the last movement was discarded for one of the previously composed concertos. Apart from the first and last movements, it contains the least quantity of freshly composed material of all the concertos. The opening largo consists of 28 bars of bare chords for full orchestra, with the interest provided by the harmonic progression and changes in the dynamic markings. Stanley Sadie has declared the movement an unsuccessful experiment, although others have pointed out that the music nevertheless holds the listener's attention, despite its starkness. Previous commentators have suggested that perhaps an extra improvised voice was intended by Handel, but such a demand on a soloist would have been beyond usual baroque performing practices.
The second and third movements are reworkings of the first two movements Handel's organ concerto
For the fourth and fifth movements, Handel used the second and third parts of the second version of the overture to his still unfinished opera Imeneo. Both movements were transposed from G to F: the allegro an animated but orthodox fugue; the minuet starting unusually in the minor key, but moving to the major key for the eight bar coda. The final gigue in binary form was left over from Op.6 No.2 after Handel recomposed its closing movements.
Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.10 HWV328: The tenth Grand Concerto in D minor has the form a baroque dance suite, introduced by a French overture: this accounts for the structure of the concerto and the presence of only one slow movement.
The first movement, marked ouverture - allegro - lentement, has the form a French overture. The dotted rhythms in the slow first part are similar to those Handel used in his operatic overtures. The subject of the allegro fugue in 6/8 time, two rhythmic bars leading into four bars in semiquavers, allowed him to make every restatement sound dramatic. The fugue leads into a short concluding lentement passage, a variant of the material from the start.
The Air, lentement is a sarabande-like dance movement of noble and monumental simplicity, its antique style enhanced by hints of modal harmonies.
The following two allegros are loosely based on the allemande and the courante. The scoring in the first allegro, in binary form, is similar in style to that of allemandes in baroque keyboard suites. The second allegro is a longer, ingeniously composed movement in the Italian concerto style. There is no ritornello; instead the rhythmic material in the opening bars and the first entry in the bass line is used in counterpoint throughout the piece to create a feeling of rhythmic direction, full of merriment and surprises.
The final allegro moderato in D major had originally been intended for the twelfth concerto, when Handel had experimented with the keys of D major and B minor. A cheerful gavotte-like movement, it is in binary form, with a variation (or double) featuring repeated semiquavers and quavers in the upper and lower strings.
Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.11 HWV329: The eleventh concerto was probably the last to be completed according to the date in the autograph manuscript. Handel chose to make this concerto an adaptation of his recently composed but still unpublished organ concerto HWV 296 in A major: in either form it has been ranked as one of the very finest of Handel's concertos, "a monument of sanity and undemonstrative sense", according to Basil Lam.The concerto grosso is more carefully worked out, with an independent viola part and modifications to accommodate the string soloists. The ad libitum sections for organ are replaced by accompanied passages for solo violin.
The order of the third and fourth movements was reversed so that the long andante became the central movement in the concerto grosso. The first two movements together have the form of a French overture. In the andante larghetto, e staccato the orchestral ritornellos with their dotted rhythms alternate with the virtuoso passages for upper strings and solo first violin. The following allegro is a short four-part fugue which concludes with the fugal subject replaced by an elaborated semiquaver version of the first two bars of the original subject. In the autograph score of the first of his organ concertos Op.7 in D minor, Handel indicated that a version of this movement should be played, shared between organ and string and transposed up a semitone into B flat major.
An introductory six bar largo precedes the fourth movement, a long andante in Italian concerto form which forms the centre of the concerto. The ritornello theme, of deceptive simplicity and quintessentially Handelian, alternates with virtuosic gigue-like passages for solo strings, in each reprise the ritornello subtly transformed but still recognizable.
The final allegro is an ingenious instrumental version of a da capo aria, with a middle section in the relative minor key, F sharp minor. It incorporates the features of a Venetian conerto: the brilliant virtuosic episodes for solo violin alternate with the four-bar orchestral ritornello, which Handel varies on each reprise.
Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.12 HWV330:The arresting dotted rhythms of the opening largo recall the dramatic style of the French overture, although the movement also serves to contrast the full orchestra with the quieter ripieno strings.
The following highly inventive movement is a brilliant and animated allegro, a moto perpetuo. The busy semiquaver figure in the theme, passed constantly between different parts of the orchestra and the soloists, only adds to the overall sense of rhythmic and harmonic direction. Although superficially in concerto form, this movement's success is probably more a result of Handel's departure from convention.
The central third movement, marked Larghetto e piano, contains one of the most beautiful melodies written by Handel. With its quiet gravity, it is similar to the andante larghetto, sometimes referred to as the "minuet", in the overture to the opera Berenice, which Charles Burney described as "one of the most graceful and pleasing movements that has ever been composed".The melody in 3/4 time and E major is simple and regular with a wide range with a chaconne-like bass. After its statement, it is varied twice, the first time with a quaver walking bass, then with the melody itself played in quavers.
The fourth movement is a brief largo, like an accompanied recitative, which leads into the final allegro fugue. Its gigue-like theme is derived from a fugue of Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, Handel's boyhood teacher in Halle, to whom the movement is perhaps some form of homage.
Recording Date: February 1982
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