Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organs, Toccatas and Fantasias - A musical
journey through Bach’s Baroque Europe
Toccata in F major, BWV 540
Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 (extracts)
Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 'Great' (extracts)
Chorale Prelude BWV 648 'Meine Seele erhebt den Herren'
Chorale Prelude BWV 639 'Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ'
Chorale Prelude BWV 622 'O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde groß'
Director: Bruno Monsaingeon
rec. 1990, various locations
Sound format: PCM stereo
Subtitle languages: EN, FR, DE
Picture format: 4:3
Picture standard: NTSC
Region code: 2, 3, 4, 5 WARNER MUSIC
VISION 5186552092 [55:00]
I don’t understand much about how organs work: all those
stops, the multiple keyboards, even the foot pedals. Of all the
musical instruments, the organ is the most complex, and the most
daunting, because outside of films like this, you rarely get
to see much of it. In this short feature, Bruno Monsaingeon,
well known for his documentaries featuring Glenn Gould and other
musicians, follows Marie-Claire Alain, an excellent organist
and interpreter of Bach, to a number of locations. She presents
and plays Bach on a variety of organs, and briefly discusses
how Bach’s life relates to the different organs visited.
Playing a number of complete works - such as the famous Toccata
and Fugue in D minor - Alain shows off her skills on organs in
different cities, including Dresden, Rötha, Haarlem and
Gröningen. Monsaingeon uses many angles and shots to make
these performances interesting to watch, though the quality of
the playing is good enough to hold the viewer’s interest.
Unfortunately, several of the performances are only extracts
of works, or are interrupted by bits of interviews, so this isn’t
really a film where you get many chances to appreciate the music
in the round.
Alain is one of the 20th century’s leading interpreters
of Bach’s organ music, and her passion for this music comes
through in both her playing and her explanations. Watching her
perform, one realizes just how difficult and complicated it is
to play this instrument, and, in particular, Bach’s music.
Filmed in 1990, this program seems just a bit dated, technically,
the sound is only in stereo and the format in 4:3. But Alain’s
discussions of the instruments and the music make this a film
full of insights that any fan of organ music will appreciate.
It has even helped me better understand the way this complicated
instrument works. While brief, those who love the organ will
want to get this DVD to see the many excellent instruments that
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