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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750)
"En noir et blanc: Bach à Weimar"
All compositions written 1708-1717

Prelude in D, BWV 532 [4.55] [without the customary fugue]
Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland... BWV 659a [4.34]
Christum wir sollen..., BWV 696 [1.20]
Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 [1.34]
Prelude in A, BWV 543a [2.58] [without the customary fugue]
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze... BWV 621 [0.53]
In dich have gehoffet...BWV 712 [2.29]
O Lamm Gotes... Bwv 656a [8.04
Prelude and Fugue in A, BWV 536a [6.40
Christ ist erstanden...I, II, III BWV 627 [4.05]
Allein Gott in der Höhe sei Ehr...BWV 663a [5.57]
Allein Gott in der Höhe sei Ehr...BWV 717 [3.17]
Valet will ich dir geben ....BWV 736 [4.03]
Herr Jesus Christ, dich zu uns wend...BWV 709 [3.01]
Herr Jesus Christ, dich zu uns wend...BWV 655a [3.32]
Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein...BWV 668 [4.25]
Vincent Genvrin (Grenzing organ, 1993)
Didier Chanon, tuner and voicer.
Recorded in 1996 at Salle Xavier Darasse, CNSM, Lyon, France.
Notes in Français and English. Photo of artist.
EDITION HORTUS 006 [62.56]

Comparison recordings

Bach BWV 599, et al; Paul Jordan, Church on the Green Organ, Spectrum LP 101 [soon to be available on [ADD] Pasigram CD].
Michael Murray, BWV 531-552 Telarc 80088

Vincent Genvrin is a superb Bach organist. This is all the more remarkable since he is also a superb Liszt organist able to adapt his style totally from one organ and composer to another. His rhythmic sense is excellent - critically important for Bach ... Michael Murray doesnít have it and I find his Bach playing unendurable. His use of registrations is exceptionally sensitive and effective. He plays BWV 599, 627 and 668, the second best Iíve ever heard them - the very best being my friend Paul Jordan on a disk we are co-producing for CD reissue, so I am hardly an unbiased observer. These are deeply mystical works which reward a slow tempo and contemplative mood, generally thrown away too fast by your ordinary Bach organist like Werner Jacob, Ton Koopman or Michel Chapuis.

I wonder about the premise for this program, that is, of using early Bach manuscripts to show how this music developed in his portfolio over the years. It is a mistake to try to force Bach into the Beethoven personality mould, that of the struggling amateur who furiously wrote down successive imperfect versions until a final, maximised version was at last produced. Bach never struggled, and didnít become a more skilled composer from his earliest to his latest works. However, the uses to which he put his music changed, as well as the sources from which we get it. His early manuscripts may be in his hand, but later copies are all in othersí hands. Does this mean the music evolved from simple to complex, or just that when he performed the music in public for others to copy down he added embellishments which he kept in his head and never troubled to write down?

But as the notes point out, in some of these works there are material changes in structure and line, so some of these original versions do record a significant musical journey.

BWV 668 under the title Vor Deinen Tron was at one time thought to be Bachís last completed work, but ironically as presented here Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten Sein was actually one of his earliest.

CNSM stands for Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, in this case, de Lyon - reference is also made in the notes to CNSM de Paris, et al. The organ heard on this disk is there in the Xavier Darasse concert hall, presumably a small modern instrument in a relatively clean acoustic. Obviously it has a supple action and a beautiful baroque sound ("similar to organs Bach would have known"), with particularly nice cornet stops. At times it sounds very like some Spanish organs. Recording is excellent, like many other Hortus productions; among the finest organ sound Iíve ever heard. But since the acoustic is relatively dry, even though your surround sound processor will accurately recreate the acoustic of the recording hall in your listening room, it wonít deliver a five second die-away time.

Paul Shoemaker


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