Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann. (1710-1784) The complete Harpsichord Music. CD 3.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 31-8-2017.
Second listen: 7-11-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 3 from 6.
Recording dates: June 2016.
Venue: Palazzo Drago, Palermo, Italy.
Sound engineer: Marco Casiglia.
Total time: 78:00.

Works on this CD 3.
Sonata in A/F/E flat/D/G/B flat.

Works performed by:
Claudio Astronio.

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

As with the previous CD'S  Astronio keeps to the excellence of performance. He is producing an exquisite tone on his Specken copy. I think it is an extraordinary experience to hear these works, which I never encountered before. Listening to these long dead masters transports me back in time, especially if it is so well done as with the performance at hand. One moment you are entering into a languid half awake state where the slumbering is one of relaxing, where fancy reigns, and the next you tumble into an exalted state of mind by its rhythmic propulsion. Yet the music stays very much alive despite the mood it is entering. There are wistful moments of melancholy, and dark expressive graduations of tone and timbre which is beautifully exploited by Astronio. The music is a testament to Friedemann's refined sensibility, and the harpsichord propensity for subtle gradations of tone and timbre makes you appreciate the music even more. In my opinion it's a must buy.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

De Leidse Koorboeken. ( The Leiden Choirbooks. Volume VI.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: April 2017.
First listen: 30-8-2017.
Second listen: 30-10-2017.
Label: Etcetera.
Recording dates: January 2015.
Venue: Laurentiuskerk, Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands.
Sound engineer: Tom Dunnebier.
Total time: 77:07 & 80:09.

Composers on both discs:
Johannes Flamingus.
Lupus Hellinck.
Pierre de Manchicourt.
Franciscus Mergot de Novo Portu.
Claudin de Sermisy.
Anonymous.

Works performed by:
Egidius kwartet & College.

The last volume in this series with beautiful music. This choir has reached its pinnacle in the last 3 volumes, and grown into an ensemble that can match itself with some top ensembles in the field. In this respect I have no complaints. However if it comes to recording I have quite a few issues with Tom Dunnebier. He does not seem to write down where the microphones should be, and as a result every volume sounds different. When he finally has the right distance and depth to the music he does not make a note of it. And the ugly result may be heard in the last volume. It is frontal, and that leads to the irritating conclusion that the female voices pipe in your ears, and overthrow the balance of the choir totally. Just sample the Missa Peccata Mea by Lupus Hellinck, with the nasal voices of the sopranos, and in which the male singers have a hard time to compete with this sound balance. Don't get me wrong, the image is lucid and see through, but the distance to the microphones is wrongly judged. I had to lower the volume just to get through the music and that is surely defeating the goal of this music, namely to please. I was looking forward to the last volume, after volume 4 and 5 being so well represented in every way, but that was not to be. A few composers were new to me. I never heard anything from Lupus Hellinck, and Franciscus Mergot de Novo Portu, plus of course the anonymous pieces. The Missa Peccata Mea by Hellinck is a wonderful piece. All lines in this fine composition come together in the last movement, Agnus Dei. The spiritual gravitas is sublimely captured by this choir. It soothed my nerves quite a bit. My partner in crime told me that she was missing the basses and baritones in the music, and furthermore she said that the tenors are indistinguishable from the sopranos.😕  I agree with this assessment. In many ways this brought me back to the first two volumes, same sort of problems with the added problem of faulty choir balance.  What a pity. I will not return to disc 1 of volume 6, so much is clear to me. As expected disc 2 of this set is almost 100% good. The soundstage is deeper, the choir balance is almost perfect. It makes it even more tragic that the first CD is a failure in sound reproduction. Johannes Flamingus starts the second CD with a beautiful Asperges me, follow by an impressive Confiteor, and closed with an Introit of considerable weight.
Claudin de Sermisy's, Missa Philomena has a deep spiritual weight, perfectly sung, outstandingly recorded. And further on it keeps to the high level.  Here and there the sopranos still resonate a tad too much, but not near as bad as it was. Needless to say my satisfaction with the second CD from volume 6 is greater. I wish that the whole set would have been that perfect.





Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. (1562-1621) Complete Organ Works. (NM Classics Edition) CD 1.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: May 2002.
First listen: May 2002.
Second listen: 1-4-2013.
Third listen: 30-8-2017.
Label: NM Classics.
CD 1 from 9
Recording dates: September/October 1999.
Venue: Pieterskerk, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Sound engineer: Ad Vink.
Total time: 76:24.


Works performed:

Fantasia, C3.
Psalm 23.
Toccata d3.
Christe qui lux es et dies 34.
Toccata G3.
De Tien Geboden Gods 41a.
Fantasia g1.
Allein zu dir Herr Jesu Christ. 33.

Played by: 
Leo van Doeselaar.

Praeludium pedaliter 76.

Vater unser in Himmelreich 78/79.
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ 84.
Capriccio a1.
Malle Sijmen 70.
Toccata F1.

Played by: 
Peter van Dijk.

Instrument used.

Van Hagerbeer Organ (1643) with parts from 1446/1518/1628.
Restored in 1998.

Since I started with the Aeolus Box,  played by Leon Berben also with the works of Sweelinck, I felt the need to compare it with the NM classic set since 2002 in my possession. And in many ways that is a revelation. Not in the choice of instruments for in both sets that's uniformly good.  Rather in the choice of organists, and the choice of registrations, and the quality of recording. In general one can say, that the NM classic set is less refined, can be quite unbalanced in the quality it offers, but not as a constant. Good things are in the majority, but still there is a good reason to get the Aeolus set too. Leon Berben, the principal organist on the Aeolus set, shows himself to be the better organist of all the ones featured on the NM classic set, and that is no small statement, but to my ears that happens to be true. In a pure technical sense Berben is the one that excels, in his registrations and style of playing too. And he has the good fortune of having Christoph Martin Frommen as an engineer.

The first disc in the NM classic set is revealing, ideal comparison material. Not always in the same choice of works, but more in what the complete set will tell you. The narrative on this disc has a less wider perspective, the breath is shorter, and the score has a narrower scope. You get the feeling that not all the potential of the music is revealed. With the Aeolus set there is no doubt of that.
The first part of this disc, played by Leo van Doeselaar is a mixed blessing, the tone is muddled at times, the narrative rather careless, and I keep missing details at places where I should hear them. The sound is not always pleasant in the higher registers, and I miss the balance in the lower pipes. I have heard this organ to better effect. The engineer is good, but he was not able to record the full potential of this organ. The toccatas can sound rather coarse, but the Psalm on the other hands is played to perfection, as is Christe qui lux es et dies.  The Fantasia in g is a favourite of mine, but Doeselaar has an almost maniacal tempo. He keeps the pressure high, too high. After listening to it I am tired. There is enough to enjoy, but also enough to take issue with. For instance the fast tempi van Doeselaar takes are masking the breath and expression of Sweelinck colours. There is little difference in dynamics, and not enough places of rest and contemplation. Too loud at times and too driven.
Peter van Dijk shows himself the better organist on this occasion, his narrative is clear, lucid registrations, a tight rhythmic line, and a forward trust that keeps all in balance. But the Toccata F1 is done in a rather vulgar way, he bounces up and down the keys like someone with a obsessive urge to play as hard and loud as he can.  But all in all I enjoyed it very much.
The recording is merely good, not outstanding.
I think it essential to have the Aeolus set also, and not only for good measure. 
The booklet by NM classics is superior to the silly one Aeolus set gives you. In that respect Aeolus is squarely and fairly beaten.






Bach, J.S. (1685-1750) Complete Organ Works. CD 12. The Aeolus Edition.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen:15-1-2014.
Second listen: 30-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 12 from 19.
Recording dates:  March 2011.
Venue: Benediktinerkirche, Villingen, Germany.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 81:12.

Works performed:

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 722.

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV Emans 140.
Lobt Gott ihr Christen Allzugleich, BWV 732.
Das Alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 288.
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 738.
Einige Canonische Veranderungen uber: Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 769.
Fuge, BWV Anhang 42/90/97.
Trio, Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan, BWV deest.
O, Herre Gott, dein Gottlichs Wort, BWV 757.
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 762.
Trio super, Wenn ich in Angst und Not, BWV deest.
Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, BWV 745.
Christus der uns selig macht, BWV 747.
Jesus Christus unser Heiland, BWV deest.
Erstanden ist der Heilige Christ, BWV Anhang 51.
Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn, BWV Emans 85.
Partita super, Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn, BWV anhang 77.
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 706 & 754.
Fuge, BWV 131 a.

Performed by:

Ute Gremmel-Geuchen.

Instrument used:

Gaston Kern Orgel (after J.A. Silbermann, 2002)
Gleichstufige stimmung A1=415 hz.

A modern organ, made after J.A. Silbermann, that was a utter surprise to me, but surprisingly it sounds very good, and only to a trained ear, might you hear that it is a modern instrument, so thats a great compliment. It has a very open character similar to a original Silbermann organ, and none of the modernities of the bigger organs of the 19th century. Majestic and restrained in its expression, I must say that Gaston Kern did a good job. Still I do not like all aspects of this organ.

As to the performance of Geuchen on this organ, I would say it's good to adequate. Sometimes she surprises me pleasantly with certain accents, or the use of the registrations,  but on a whole it is a bit lacklustre, but that also has to do with the recording of this organ. She would not be a performer of which I want to have more recordings. After Ewald Kooiman it is a bit like a lukewarm shower. Still I appreciate her for what she is, a organist with a good technical background, but not always able to express herself.

Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. (1562-1621) Complete Organ Works, Volume 5.

From my collection
Bought: March 2015.
First listen: 22-7-2015.
Second listen: 7-8-2015.
Third listen: 30-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 5 from 6.
Recording dates: June 2010. (Organ) December 2011. (Harpsichord)
Venue: Organ and Harpsichord, Eglise Saint-Jacques, Liege, Belgium.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 81:47.


Works performed:

Organ.
Praeludium pedaliter. SwWV 265b.
Toccata d1. 285.
Christe qui lux et dies. 301.
Wir glauben all an einen Gott, a4. (Sweelinck?)
Wir........316.
Canon a3. (Ave Maria Stella) 193.
Psalm 116. 313.
Psalm 140. 314.
Ricercar d3. 279.

Harpsichord.

Toccata C1. 282.
Toccata 2di, Toni g2. 293.
Toccata 2di, Toni g1. 292.
Toccata Primi Toni d2. 286.
Toccata Noni Toni a2. 297.
Toccata 5 Toni C3. 284.
Toccata G3. 290.
Toccata 9 Toni a1. 296.
Toccata C2. 283.
Toccata a3, G2. 289.
Toccata g4. 295.
Toccata G1. 288.

Performed by:

Leon Berben.

Instruments:

Niehoff Organ. (1600, reconstruction by Guido Schumacher. (1996-2000)
Keith Hill Harpsichord, built in 1999, after Johannes Ruckers, 1624.


For me this set is an outright winner. Berben is a natural Sweelinck interpreter, and has the finest instruments available to help and guide him. Frommen made a very good recording of both instruments. Sweelincks works come in many different interpretations. I like the ones were little ego is added, and performers keep to the notes Sweelinck wrote. If played in the right way, one does not have to add anything to make it more palatable. Good music is good music, and hard to ruin, or you must be a complete moron to get that accomplished. From all the interpretations I have, Berben is on top. I also have some Sweelinck done by Leo van Doeselaar and others, and all in all that does not come near to the excellence of Leon Berben. The complete works on NM classics is variable at any rate, less consistent and not so well recorded. 

Berben gives me the actual sense of being an organic part of the music, and so am inside the music with a clear vision, and expectations. Unspoiled playing, not hampered by undue expression which is not Sweelinck. No sentimental rubbish, but clear headed thoughtful readings, in which music has the last word, and speaks for itself in glorious tones. That's my kind of vision, if it comes to Dutch organ masters.




Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. (1562-1621) Complete Organ Works. Volume 4.

From my collection.
Bought: March 2015.
First listen: 22-7-2015
Second listen:  6-8-2015.
Third listen: 30-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 4 from 6.
Recording dates: June 2010. 
Venue: Eglise Saint-Jacques, Liege, Belgium.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 75:53.


Works recorded:

Fantasia auf die manier eines Echo a3. SwWV 275.
Fantasia, Echo d4. 261.
Fantasia a4 G2. 267.
Ricercar d2. 278.
Capriccio a1. 281.
Fantasia a 4 a1. 273.
Ich fuhr mich uber Rheine. 322.
Fantasia, C3. 255.
Nun freut euch lieben Christen g'mein. 307.
Da pacem Domine in diebus nostris. 302
Psalm 60. 312.
Psalm 36. 311.

Performed by:

Leon Berben.

Instrument:

Niehoff organ. (1600, reconstruction by Guido Schumacher, (1996-2000).
Pitch a'=440 Hz (18 C)
Tuning: Meantone.
Pressure: 75 mm WS.

Marvelous, enchanting. What wonderful interpretations on this fabulous organ on which Berben plays the stars from heaven. Perfectly captured sound. A good perspective, air around the instrument, details clearly audible. I cannot conceive better interpretations for me as what Berben is delivering, time and time again. He takes his time to unfold the music in a natural way, without haste, but with a loving touch, that makes Sweelinck almost alive again. This performance takes you back, and you can well imagine being transported there for the duration of this CD.

Amazing!





Friday, August 25, 2017

Fux, Johann Joseph. (1660-1741) Complete Music for Harpsichord.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase:  August 2017.
First listen: 25-8-2017.
Second listen: 29-9-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 2 from 2.
Recording dates: September 2016.
Venue: House Puricelli, Galliano of Eupilio, Italy.
Sound engineer: Raffaele Cacciola.
Total time: 77:06.

Works on this CD:
Partita, Capriccio, Ciaccona, Harpeggio, Aria Passeggiata, and 12 Menuets.

Works performed by:
Filippo Emanuele Ravizzi.

Instrument used:
Luca Vismara 2010, based on Joannes Daniel Dulcken 1745.

At first you have to get used to the brightness of the instrument, but after a while you adopt this brightness quite easily, for it highlights many details in this music and that is a huge plus in my book. I like the music composed by Fux, for his use of chromatique is amazing, and the polyphonic genius is apparent in every melody that emerges out of this creative well. Ravizzi is an articulate musician, who keeps a lucid narrative which is easy to follow, and has chosen tempi that fits his bill perfectly. I am quite happy with the result. The recording is very good indeed.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon.(1562-1621) Complete Organ/Harpsichord Works. Volume 6.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: March 2015.
First listen: 24-7-2015.
Second listen: 10-8-2015.
Third listen: 22-8-20127.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 6 from 6.
Recording dates: December 2011.
Venue: Not mentioned for the Harpsichord.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 75:53.

Works performed:
17 divers pieces for Harpsichord.

Performed by:

Leon Berben.

Instrument:

Keith Hill Harpsichord built in 1999 after Johannes Ruckers. (1624)

The last cd in this set and a fine one to boot. Berben shows himself as much master of the harpsichord as he is of the organ. The range of his expression is as wide and deep to make it utterly effective. I have heard plenty of recordings of what Berben is performing on this disc, but none really compare to him. He has an unique way of furthering the narration into a broader realm, and thereby touching things that makes your understanding the musical value even more intense. The emotional value has a different ring to it as most interpretations. A very calvinistic approach, sober, yet effective.

Tempi are swift, but he is never in haste. The instrument is well captured, with plenty of air around it. Hill his instruments simply generate a superb sound.


Krebs, Johann Ludwig (1713-1780) Complete Works for Organ. CD 6. Organ and Flute Traverso.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 22-8-2017.
Label: Querstand.
CD 6 from 13.
Recording dates: May 1999.
Venue: St. Petri, Freiberg, Germany.
Sound engineer: Wolfgang Muller.
Total time:  59:27.
Reference set.
State of the Art sound.
Top recommendation.

Works on this CD:
Trios, fantasias, Choralbearbeitungen, Praeludium, Doppelfuge.

Works performed by:
Felix Friedrich, Organ.
Johanna Baumgartel, Flute.

Instrument:
Silbermann Organ der St Petrikirche, 1735 Freiberg.
Stimmungsart: Silbermann/Sorge.
Stimtonhohe: 438,6 Hz bei 15 C.

I have so much pleasure listening to this set. Already volume 6 and getting more enthusiastic with every CD. Apart from the wonderful organs used, and the fine pitch of many of them, especially the Silbermann organ on this CD tuned at a 438,6 Hz  I am totally in raptures about the sound, music and performance. Especially the Choralbearbeitungen are magnificent. Just sample  "Ach Herr mich armen Sunder" or "Wir glauben all an einen Gott" for two manuals e pedale, canto fermo in tenore. Ravishing. And the gorgeous trios, amazing music. I am totally hooked. and I was bowled over the brim when listening to "Von Gott will ich nicht lassen" pro organo plenum, with the 32f in full force. Excellent performance all around.  Recommended? You bet.




Haydn, Joseph.(1732-1809) The Almost complete Symphonies No. 57 & 60. CD 24. The Hogwood Edition.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: April 2013.
Gifted to me in 2013 by an American friend.💟
First listen: 17-7-2014,
Second listen: 22-8-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre. 
CD 24 from 32.
Recording dates: June/July 1993.
Recording venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Sound Engineer not specified.
Total time: 60:34.
Reference set.
Top recommendation.
State of the Art sound.

Works on this CD.

Symphony No. 57 in D major.
Symphony No. 60 in C major. "Il Distratto".

Performed by:

The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.
Played on Authentic instruments.

 Two beautiful symphonies on this CD. But then there is not one of the 32 cd's that will disappoint. True enough there are instances that I might had liked swifter tempi, but on the other hand they can be too fast also. I agreed with myself that it is well balanced and I am very happy with the whole set as it is. What a fine Adagio in No. 57, so well measured and full of rhythmic surprises. It's one of those movements in which Haydn gives you time for leisure. The following minuet is almost a waltz, that makes your head spinning in a frolocking way. And full of melodic surprises too!  Closed with a Prestissimo that is one of the finest Haydn wrote. As if fire is on his heels. The string writing is especially invigorating, as a movement it is perfectly balanced in its virtuosity, It is definitively a favourite symphony in my book.

The majestic intro of No. 60 is finely illustrated by the meandering violins and the added woodwinds. It creates an expectation of adventure, and right enough the woodwinds with timpani create a whirlwind sweeping over me. Very robust statements are made in this movement, in which timpani play a major role. And around 4:00 a very fine melody is formed by violins and woodwinds and is repeated once or twice. The violins are so well articulated by the academy, truly special. And quiety walks in, in an almost march like tempo the Andante, pinpointing out the melody, gently and quickly pulsating its rounds. creating an almost palpable energy, that gives energy without tiring out. The Horns have some wonderful notes to play. And what a wonderful melody spins out of the Minuet-trio around from 2:00 onwards. This is such a surprise and so totally unexpected, and it goes on like a perpetuum mobile. You keep discovering wonderful notes when listening to his symphonies. The presto that follows is again a whirlwind of scintillating violins. Rhythmically as steady as a rock. Like the surf in a wave, you see it afar building up slowly and inevitably rising with it's full force on the shore.  The timpani are hammering lustily away. Who will afterwards complain of the following Adagio (lamentatione) when you are engulfed in a warm embrace, and shocked into awareness around 1:25 , with some loud horns and a thundering sprinkling of timpani.  The end of this movement is great fun. As is the Finale with the false violins which is furiously corrected by the conductor, absolutely funny.



Bach, J.S. Complete Organ Works. CD 11. Aeolus Edition.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: November 2014.
First listen: 13-1-2015.
Second listen: 22-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 11 from 19.
Recording dates: October 2010.
Venue: Eglise Abbatiale Saint Etienne, France.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 81:04.


Works performed:


Praeludium and fuge.

BWV 553-560.
Fuga in C minor, uber ein thema von Legrenzi, BWV 574.

Performed by:

Ute Gremmel Geuchen, Organ
Andreas Silbermann Organ, (1709) Marmoutier.

Gremmel Geuchen seems to be in better form on this instrument, she adopts the free flowing style for which Kooiman is so famous, and producing a better command of the musical structure. A pity she did not do that from the beginning.  Clean registrations in this performance..  There is so much more to enjoy with her. I like the vigour and virtuosity of the Praeludiums, and the wealth of detail in it. Geuchen shows a vision that is her own, and implements all the good teachings from Ewald Kooiman. My appreciations for what she does with Bach grows.
Recording is excellent


Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. Complete Keyboard Works. CD III.

From my collection
Date of purchase:March 2015.
First listen:20-7-2015.
Second listen: 5-8-2015.
Third listen: 22-8-2015.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 3 from 6.
Recording dates: April 2010.
Venue: Grote Kerk at Oosthuizen, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 61:41.


Works performed:

Volume III of this set.
Fantasias, Toccatas, etc.

Performed by:

Leon Berben.

Instrument:

Renaissance Organ (1521?) Jan van Covelens?.
Manual: FGA-g/2 a/2
Pitch a'=460Hz.
Meantone.
Pressure 80 mm WS.

This box is a genuine treasure trove. Leon Berben brings so many points to the foreground, which are lost to many other organists, that this set is sailing in the realm of new discoveries.At least this is how the music sounds to me. Be it a Fantasia, or a toccata, Berben manages to make Sweelinck sound fresh and new to my ears. And that is quite an accomplishment. I heard many criticisms regarding his playing style, but frankly in the light of what I hear I designate this to humbug. Everyone has his own taste in style, and that's okay, but reading the details of those criticisms, they cut no wood, not even enough to make a tiny fire. Berben plays with a great amount of feeling, but never overdoes it. Sweelinck does not react well to sentimentalizing, for it's simply not in the Dutch cultural character to overdo sentiment. We like to keep things straight and lucid. And yes, also a hefty dose of intellectualism, which however never sits in the way of generating valid emotions. His tempi are sensible, and his rhythm is impeccable, thus keeping it all at a steady flow. The music unfolds like a flower. 

A faithful recording of this beautiful organ. Its old, with only one manual, with a praestant 8' and a Bourdon 16'  which gives this organ enough body!  State of the Art recording.



De Leidse Koorboeken. (The Leiden Choirbooks) Volume V.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: 2017.
First listen: 21-8-2017.
Second listen: 24-10-2017.
Label: Etcetera.
Recording dates: January/February 2014.
Venue: Laurentiuskerk, Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands.
Sound engineer: Tom Dunnebier.
Total time: 70:32 & 68:55.

Composers on both discs: 1 & 2:

Benedictus Appenzeller.
Johannes Flamingus.
Claudius Potoletus.
Jean Lhéritier.
Jean Richafort.
Michiel Smeekers.
Jacotin.
Jacobus Clemens non Papa.
Adriaen Willaerts.
Joachimus de Monte.
Thomas Crecquillon.
Heinrich Isaac.
Nicolle des Celliers de Hesdin.

The fifth volume in this series, and for me the set were all things come together on the point of perfection. The choir sounds coherent and unified. Articulation is sublime, dynamics are well placed, perfect choir balance, and a recording that does them full justice. Sometimes though the enthusiasm of the ladies will unsettle the balance a little as in Johannes Flamingus, Salve Regina a 5, but that are minor quibbles. I was thoroughly taken by the compositions of Claudius Potoletus, De profundis clamavi, Michiel Smeekers, Inviolata integra et Casta, Heinrich Isaac's Illumina oculos meos, Nicolle de Hesdin's Magnificat primi toni, and so on. I did not hear those works before, and just named them because I have listened with admiration to the quality of the works. There is not a single work on both discs that did not please me.  It is in all respects a wonderful set. Having told in my other reviews how good this choir has become, and their mode of expression, I refer to them in you want more info. 





Bach, J.S Complete Organ Works. Disc 10. (Aeolus Edition)

From my collection.
Date of purchase: November 2014.
First listen: 9-1-2015.
Second listen: 21-8-2017.
Label Aeolus.
CD 10 from 19.
Recording dates: September 2010.
Venue: Church of St. Thomas, Strasbourg.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 77:26.

Instrument used:
Johann-Andreas Silbermann. (1741)

Works performed:
Dritter teil der Clavierubung.
BWV 688-689.
Duetto 1-4. BWV 802-805.
Fuge, BWV 552.
Diverse works:
BWV 704/703/689/699/701/696/697/702/Anh 55/765/Anh 70/1128/583/718.
Praeludium and Fuge. BWV 566.

Performed by:
Ute Gremmel Geuchen.



I am more positive about the second disc in this series Geuchen recorded. There is more control, better tempi, and precise dynamics, applied in a sensible way.  As a whole the music has more expression as before, and I clearly hear the teachings of Ewald Kooiman, and her own interpretation throughout all the works on this disc, which is a huge relief to me. After all she recorded four discs in this set, so I hope it will get better after this. The four Duettos recorded on this disc are well played and are in fact the beginning of a very enjoyable disc. The organ sounds magnificent.


Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon, The Complete Keyboard Works. CD 2.

New Acquisition.
Date of purchase: March 2015.
First listen: 24-3-2015.
Second listen: 30-7-2015.
Third listen: 21-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 2 from 6.
Recording dates: October 2009.
Venue: St. Stephanskirche, Tangermünde, Germany.
Sound engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 73:07.

Works performed:
Fantasia Crommatica a 4 d1. SwWV 258.
Fantasia a 2,3; et 4 vocem a2. SwWV 274.
Toccata a 4 Voc. a3. SwWV 298.
Fantasia a 4 C2. SwWV 254.
Erbarm dich mein O, Herre Gott, SwWV 303.
Vater unser im Himmelreich ( Sweelinck?)
Canticum Sacrum: Vater unser im Himmelreich. (Sweelinck?) SwWV 309.
O, Gott du unser Vater bist. SwWV  308.
Puer nobis nascitur. SwWV 315.
Wie Schon leucht uns der Morgenstern (Dirk Janszoon Sweelinck 1591-1652?.)
Ricercar del nono tono a1. SwWV 280.

Performed by:

Leon Berben, on a Hans Scherer (the younger) Organ. 1624.

What I said about the first disc, can be copied in this instance. Of all the performances I have heard from Sweelinck music, Leon Berben brings this extra layer of class, distinction and refinement in his interpretation. I know of no other as just Berben that gets so much more out of the music of Sweelinck, more as I held for possible. It starts with the right dynamics. He never obscures a melody, but instead you hear simultaneous all what is going on between pedal and manual. You never miss a note, or notes that you must hear in order to understand the melody as a whole. He way of projecting the content is remarkable, and a lucid narration that is unique to my ears. His touche is as light as a feather if needed, and as firm as a hammer if needs arise.  Quite extraordinary in its message, this is for me a reference performance. The recording helps also, for Frommen is famous for recording organs in the best possible way, as he has proven many times.

Another step to greatness for a musician still so young, but already very accomplished.
The Organ is a dream.
Recommended.




Alep Eternelle. Syrian Byzantine Chant. ( Sacred melkite chants)

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 21-8-2017.
Second listen: 25-9-2017.
Label: Psalmus.
Recording dates: 2007-2010.
Venue: ?
Sound engineer: ?
Total time: 65:41.

Works on  this CD:
See heading.

Performed by:
Maximos Fahmé, Cantor.
Les Solistes de la Musique Byzantine, Frédéric Tavernier Vellas.

I already have two other CD'S from the same group, so the third one released this year was for me a absolute must. Vellas and his fellow singers, belong to the very best there is. They are so immersed in this music, in that I can safely say that they enter into the very heart of this music. Maximos Fahmé is also one of the best cantors I ever heard in my life. So this is an essential purchase for all that cherish this kind of music, which I do. The music quickly puts you in a trance, and engulfs you quite readily and in stealth mode. For me this music is bread and butter, thus it enters my soul quickly. Ther performers sing and chant in a mesmerizing way. The meditative pace and sometimes darkening light of a prayer explains the very essence of this choir and music. They are highlighting every little nuance, as if it are all prayers that have traveled throughout the world for centuries, which of course it did. The music's directness and sincerity sets it really apart from all the other recordings I ever heard.
The recording is superb. On another note however I am greatly disappointed about the lack of info. No booklet to explain the music and its origins. No names of the singers, recording dates, place of recording, just two glamour pictures, and that's all.  It is a full price disc so you might expect  a good booklet, but no. I have send them a email on their English site, but it was bounced, and my French is nil, so no way to reach them. On their site they praise themselves on the info they provide with their CD'S but in this case they failed majorly. That's a bummer!



Friday, August 18, 2017

Bach, J.S. Complete Organ Works, Volume 9. (Aeolus Edition)

From my collection.
Purchase date: November 2014.
First listen: 8-1-2015.
Second listen: 17-8-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 9 from 19.
Extensive booklet added.
Recording dates: September 2010.
Recording venue: Strasbourg, The Church of Saint Thomas.
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Total time: 80:38.

Instrument used:

Johann-Andreas Silbermann (1741)

Works performed:

Third part of the Clavierubung.

BWV 552, Praeludium.

BWV 670-687.

Played by Ute Gremmel Geuchen.


Let one thing be clear from the onset, Geuchen is not Ewald Kooiman, if it comes to the style of playing. She was a pupil of Kooiman, as the rest of the players in this set, but that does not mean she is stepping in the shoes of the teacher, far from it, she has a distinctive and articulated voice of her own, that draws on Kooimans experience and insight, but is in all respects totally Geuchen. A personal expression is another question. What is clear from the start that her approach is a milder one in expression, and less passionate. The free floating element in Kooimans playing is less apparent, and one gets the impression that she prettifies the music a bit, while the bolder pieces suffer at times of some chaos in articulation, what in effect gives the notion of  fuzzy detail and sameness in the pieces. I have to confess that the change from Kooiman to Geuchen was harder as I thought, and it will take time to get accustomed to her interpretations if at all. There is as yet to little personality in her playing, and she still lingers between playing in the baroque style and a more opulent approach. Well, well. If I had to answer the question whether it was wise to continue this set without Ewald Kooiman my answer would be no. The first 8 CD'S are essential to have, the rest is a watered down bonus. Geuchen is on her level a good musician, but she cannot match Kooiman, and probably never will. Her Bach is as yet faceless and without distinction, she is merely a good organ player. This is of course my personal impression based on the many sets I have heard with the organ music of Bach. As such this performance does not move me.

The sound is very good, and the organ sounds fantastic.





Krebs, Johann Ludwig. (1713-1780) Complete works for Organ. CD 5. Top recommendation.

New in my collection.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 17-8-2017.
Label: Querstand.
CD 5 from 13.
Recording dates: June 1999.
Venue: Church of Frankenstein, Germany.
Sound engineer: Wolfgang Müller.
Total time: 68:53.
Reference performance.
State of the Art sound.
Top recommendation.

Works on this CD:

Praeludium in C minor.
Aria: "Bist du noch fern".
Sechs Praeambulum aus Piecen, Part I.
Vier Choralbeartbeitungen. 
Concerto Ã  ll Cembali obligati in A minor für orgel und Cembalo.

Works performed by:
Susanne Scheinpflug, Soprano.
Irmtraut Friedrich, Harpsichord.
Felix Friedrich, Organ.

Instruments on this recording.
Silbermann Organ, Frankenstein, 1752?
Pitch: Around 415 Hz!!!

Harpsichord built by Silbermann 1740-1750.
Pitch: Around 415 Hz Dresdner Kammerton.

I am totally impressed by the Fifth volume in this series. The combination of Organ and Harpsichord by the same maker, tuned at the same pitch (415 Hz) is a marvel to hear. I love this low tuning! The sound is warm involving and utterly compatible, the harpsichord is to my ears an extension of the organ, but at the same time has a distinctive character of its own. I do not recall ever hearing a Silbermann harpsichord, but if this is a good example, I say, let them be build! The combination of both instruments and the same tuning works for me.
Felix Friedrich plays masterly on this fine organ, and his wife Irmtraut is equal in this respect, with very articulated playing, moreover they both enhance each other's mastery. I had so much pleasure listening to Kreb's music through their hands, that I had a constant urge to play it over and over again. If this disc does not convince you of it's value, nothing will I am afraid.  The Aria on this disc, sung by Susanne Scheinpflug was a surprise to me, and of which I have to admit was a bit apprehensive in terms of what to expect of her voice. Well it is not bad. A tad unsteady, a voice not well rounded, but that probably has to do with the fact that she is not used to singing without vibrato and romantic passion. Reading about her background I understood that much. But she does her best, and after all it's only 3 minutes of singing. Another pearl to the crown of this fine box with the complete organ music of Krebs, a great master in my view.












Walther, Johann Gottfried. (1684-1748) Complete Organ music. Concerto transcriptions II. CD 12.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: November 2015.
First listen: 17-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 12 from 12.
Recording dates:  April/May/November 2013.
Venue: Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, Padua, Italy.
Sound engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Total time: 53:41.
Reference set.

Works on this disc:
Concertos de Signor Taglietti/ Telemann/ Torelli/ Vivaldi.

Performed by:
Simone Stella on a Francesco Zanin organ, built in 2006.
Pitch A=440 Hz. 
Unequal temperament.

Apart from a little sound snag on CD 10 this set is for me a reference set. This decision is based on the State of the Art recordings, the gorgeous organ used, and last but not least the sensitive playing of Simone Stella. He ranks high on my list, and deserves this unreservedly. Francesco Zanin must be mentioned too, for if you can build such a excellent organ you are a master in your own right. Alessandro Simonetto is a reliable sound engineer, who gets almost always the right sound balance whatever he is recording.
I am a great fan of Walther his music, and the last disc filled with transcriptions is a marvel to listen to. Tastefully reworked it creates miracles in a colourful display. There is so much creativity in these compositions, and give joy and pleasure in any mood or circumstance.
Although my prime interest was with the Chorale settings, the transcriptions nevertheless were very welcome.
I recommend this set without doubts about it's quality.


Haydn, Joseph. The almost Complete Symphonies. CD23.. Symphonies No. 55 & 56. The Hogwood Edition.

From my collection.
Date of purchase:  April 2013.
Gifted by an American friend.💖
First listen: 11-6-2014.
Second listen: 17-8-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 23 from 32.
Recording dates: June/July 1993.
Sound engineer: ?
Total time: 61:19.
Reference interpretation.

Works on this CD:
Symphony No. 55 in E flat major. "Der Schulmeister".
No. 56 in C major.

Performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.
Played on authentic instruments.

Hogwood never disappoints in expression or tempi, and his judgement of dynamics is beyond par. Haydn structured many colours in his music, and some of them allude quite a few conductors. Not so with Hogwood. He might be a little erratic in his choice of tempi, but it is always tastefully done, so you hear the sense in his choices. Just sample the second movement of No. 55 or the beautiful Adagio of No. 56. The brass sounds deliciously as do the woodwinds. Haydn's intricate scoring is marvelous. The effect is reached by minimal movements and with maximum results. Another pearl to this already successful set. 
Sound is good as per usual.



Froberger, Johann Jacob. (1616-1667) Complete Music for Harpsichord and Organ. CD 16.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: October 2016.
First listen: 17-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD16 from 16.
Recording dates: May 2016.
Venue: Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza, Italy.
Sound engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Total time: 67:57.

Works on this CD:
Fugues, Capriccios, Fantasias.

Works performed by:
Simone Stella.

Instrument used:
Organ of the 17th century Venetian School, of the Pieve di Sant'eusebio di Angarano.
Unequal temperament.
Pitch: A= 440 Hz.

A wonderful close of this box. I regret the fact that too little of the works are done on the organ. It is possible and permissible to play them on a organ. Froberger gives that option in the scores. However apart from the last two discs and some short pieces on the rest is what we get. The complete set gave a excellent impression of Froberger, performer and instruments used. I can say with confidence that this set should be a must for all Froberger fans. And although just one Harpsichord was used, excellent as it is, at least four unique organs are on display, which was a huge bonus. All period instruments, restored to pristine condition. Stella knows how to treat them, and as a reward the organs give him colour and expression.  I liked this last disc enormously, as I did the whole set, and will return to it as soon as I can.


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 again....you 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.
Second listen: 27-10-2017.
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.
Recommended.


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.
Second listen: 23-10-2017.
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, and no explanations about the music.  
Recording dates: October 2009.
Venue: St Stephanus Church, Tangermunde, Germany.
Sound 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.

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 is 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, Gustav Leonhardt and Ewald 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.

Works performed by: 
Ewald Kooiman.

Instrument used:
The Johann-Andreas Silbermann organ (1778)

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, and 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.



Froberger, Johann Jacob. (1616-1667) Complete music for Harpsichord and Organ. CD 15.

New acquisition.
Purchased: October 2016.
First listen: 14-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 15 of 16.
Recording dates: October 2015.
Venue: Basilica della Annunziata, Florence, Italy.
Sound engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Total time: 55:13.

Works on this CD:
12 Toccatas FbWV 113-125.

Performed by:
Simone Stella.

Instrument used:
Domenico Di Lorenzo da Lucca organ, 1521.
Temperament: Meantone 1/4.
Pitch: A='446,5 Hz.

Almost at the end of this box, and having the pleasure of listening to these fine Toccatas and this gorgeous organ. A renaissance organ with a superb sound and wonderfully restored. I recently was at a live concert in Krewerd, listening to a Renaissance organ build somewhere around 1531, with pipes that were much older. It has not changed much since the time it was build, so I was able to compare both organs and they sounded so much alike. The disposition is slightly different of course, but the sound had distinctive similarities. I had a long talk with the organist in Krewerd about the instrument, being up at its works and watching him play. Learned a lot. And we talked about Froberger, but also Scheidemann, and Bohm.
But back to Simone Stella. I honestly think that it will be a hard job to find better interpretations as the present ones. Of course there will be differences in how to play, or different organs, but for me everything what I like about Froberger comes at the surface in this complete box.
Recommended.







Hans Nomen a very good organist/Harpsichordist, playing on the organ in Krewerd 13-8-2015.
I made the picture.



Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The almost complete Symphonies. CD 21. Symphonies No. 52 & 64. The Hogwood Edition.

From my collection.
Date of purchase: April 2013.
A present from an American friend.
First listen: 15-5-2014.
Second listen: 14-8-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 21 from 32.
Recording dates: July/August 1993.
Venue: Abbey Road, studio 1, London, England.
Sound engineer: ?
Total time: 51:19.

Works on this CD:
Symphony No. 52 in C minor.
No. 64 in A major, "Tempora mutantur".

Performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.
Played on Authentic instruments.

Performance and recording are top notch, on a reference level actually. No 52, has a very long second movement of a full 12:00 minutes, melodically very strong in which Haydn takes his time to unfold his well balanced answer to all that rush through live. Nevertheless, I would have liked it a bit faster played. No. 62 is altogether a different kettle of fish, with a steady moving Largo, and an invigorating Finale. He had other thoughts when composing this work. And that's the beauty of Haydn symphonies he carries his emotions on his sleeve. I have already said all I could possibly say about the quality of this complete box, so trust me, this is the first set to go for.


Krebs, Johann Ludwig. (1713-1780) Complete Works for Organ, Volume 4, CD 4.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 14-8-2017.
Label: Querstand.
CD 4 from 13.
Recording dates: October 1998.
Venue: St Walpurgiskirche, Großengottern, Germany.
Sound engineer: Wolfgang Müller.
Total time: 59:07.

Works on this disc:
Praeludiums, Choralebeartbeitungen, Trios, 2 Canononishe Chralbeartbeitungen.

Performed by:
Felix Friedrich.

Instrument used:
Trost organ, Großengottern, 1730. 
Stimmungsart: Werkmeister, (Generalbaß-Unterweisung)
Stimmtonhöhe: Chorton.

This organ is an absolute gem. It's quite large, but it never overpowers you. Sound is very sweet, open and well balanced. It has a excellent disposition, and as per usual Friedrich uses the registrations in a proportional manner. The result is absolutely dazzling, and he really leaves no wishes open. I never heard Krebs music better as on this recording. Especially impressed by the 2 Canonische  Choralbearbeitungen, and a tuneful Fantasia Ã  gusto Italiano, that made me smile.
The first piece on this disc is a very short Praeludium, but effective nevertheless. And the disc is closed with a Fugue in D major, that again sums up Krebs his genius. You should not hold back if you want his organ music, it doesn't come any better as this. Sound is State of the Art.






Saturday, August 12, 2017

Walther, Johann Gottfried. (1684-1748) Complete Organ music. CD 10. Chorale settings IX.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: November 2015.
First listen: 11-8-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 10 from 12.
Recording dates: April/May/November 2013.
Venue: Church of Sant'Antonio, Abate, Padua, Italy.
Sound engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Total time: 53:00.
Relevance: Essential.

Works on this disc:
See heading.

Performed by:
Simone Stella.

Instruments used:
Francesco Zanin organ. 2006.

As to the music I am finished praising it, for I said all good there is to say. Walther is one of my heroes. Stella and his organ are the cream on the cake. I could not wish for a better interpretation or organ. In the matter of recording there is unfortunately something wrong, in the sense that it is vastly different from the previous 9 volumes. As I would say that they are all State of the Art recordings, so after the first 2 tracks on disc 10, with perfect sound,  from track 3 to 22 the sound is a tad muffled, missing the colours, the highs are subdued and the volume went down, it almost sounded like a lame instrument. Even the 16f pipes did not have power anymore. I distinctly felt that the microphones were placed much further away and thus obscuring the sound. That is very unfortunate, and I am puzzled why Simonetto did this. After track 23 everything seemed to be normal again. I am a bit pissed of because of my favourite piece suffered in this occurrence, namely "Wie soll ich dich Empfangen, Versus 1-10. I adore that composition and was looking forward to it. O, well, its the music that counts I guess. I hope they do not do this again.





The Leiden Choirbooks Volume III. (De Leidse Koorboeken)

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: 2017.
First listen: 11-8-2017.
Second listen: 19-10-2017.
Label: Etcetera.
CD 1 and 2.
Recording dates: January & February 2012.
Venue: Laurentiuskerk Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands, Christuskirche Oberschöneweide, Berlin, Germany.
Sound engineer: Tom Dunnebier, Christoph Drescher.
Total time: 62:10 & 77:22.
Relevance: Essential.

Composers on both discs:
Jacobus Clemens non Papa.
Pierre Moulu.
Johannes Lupi.
Jheronimus Vinders.
Cornelis Canis.
Josquin des Prez.
Anonymous.

Performed by:
Egidius kwartet & College.

It took me sometime to get to this volume due to an excess of things I wanted to hear, but finally I made a successful attempt and have listened to both discs of volume III. As expected, it was a journey of marvel and a few critical notes, but at the end a deeply satisfied mind. For there is no doubt about the uniqueness of this set, or of the quality of performance. Pierre Moulu, Johannes Lupi, Jheronimus Vinders, Cornelis Canis, and the anonymous music, I almost or never heard from them, let alone that the music was known to me. The deepest impression was made, coming from disc 2, with Cornelius Canis his "Missa pastores loquebantur" and the anonymous, "Missa pro fidelibus defunctis". I was enraptured by the music and the balanced singing of this choir, which was again a step upwards compared to the previous volumes. The careful approach and the sensitivity of singing had me in feathers, in this they actually share a place with the best ensembles I heard. I have no idea who composed the "Missa pro fidelibus defunctis" but it is an absolute gem, and he surely must have been a very able composer, for the work is of a very high quality.
As to disc 1, I found them to be not lacking in creativity. They have an endearing touch of breathiness in their singing with a winning purity. The dynamic gradations are what I think not quite on the same level as in the previous volumes, or compared to the second disc of this set. It is both a problem of the choir and maybe the recording. While disc 2 had a near ideal sound, with air around the voices, and a careful watch on the volumes and dynamics, disc 1 was a touch more problematic. If you listen to the first track, a composition by Clemens non Papa, "Cum esset anna" you hear that that the female voices are given tonal prominence over the male voices and so disturb the balance between voices. I know they hold the melody line, but it should have been a tad softer in expression. I do not want to hear steel between their teeth. It is not really serious but I was a bit disappointed about that. It comes and goes in all the pieces, sometime less, sometimes more. However it did not distract from the eminent singing, although the acoustics is differently recorded. I should have thought that Tom Dunnebier by now should know where to place the choir and microphones. 
I especially enjoyed the lesser known pieces, like Jheronimus Vinders, "Magnificat" a 4, a real find for me. The choir provides a clean and crisply articulated performance, which propels you quickly into raptures, for they create by their singing an intimate sympathetic affection, and it lets you lean back in your seat perfectly content with the world and the music. Especially disc 2 is a spine tingler. A world weary quality pervades the music. So it's good.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Krebs, Johann Ludwig. (1713-1780) Complete Works for Organ, CD 3.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: August 2017.
First listen: 11-8-2017.
Label: Querstand.
CD 3 from 13.
Recording dates: May 1998.
Venue: Schloßkirche Altenburg, Germany.
Sound engineer: Wolfgang Müller.
Total time: 64:31.
Relevance: Essential.

Works on this disc.
Solo pieces for Organ and accompanied by Baroque Oboe.

Performed by:
Felix Friedrich, Organ.
Norbert Kaschel, Oboe.

Instrument used:
Trost Organ, 1735 in the Castle Church of  Altenburg

This was a delightful disc with a good mix of compositions, well played and perfectly recorded. It was as if the Oboe was an extra pipe in the organ. Actually the blend was quite natural. In Krebs time it was a normal thing to use wind instruments together with the organ and he wrote some 20 pieces for this combination. And it works. Of course the organist has to adapt himself in volume to the Oboe, which is done to perfection, and together they create an interesting perspective. The performance is properly subordinate to the architecture of Krebs compositions. The solo pieces for organ are as per usual excellent, individual and distinctive. No need to hold back on this fine disc.






On my listening menu today (24-4-2018)

J.S. Bach. Complete organ works Olivier Vernet. CD 6. Erkki Melartin. Orchestral Works. Peteris Vasks Orchestral Works ...