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CD: Crotchet

Renaissance and Baroque Organ Music
see end of review for details
Herbert Tachezi (* organ of the Stiftskirche, Ossiach; ** organ in the Hofkirche, Innsbruck; *** Great Organ (Festorgel) in the Stiftsbasilika, Klosterneuburg; ^ organ in the Franziskanerkirche, Vienna).
(P) 1980 (CD1) (P) 1981/1968 (CD2) (P) 1968 (CD3) ADD/DDD.
Booklet with notes in English, French and German and organ specifications.
DAS ALTE WERK 2564 694558 [3 CDs: 76:46 + 57:32 + 64:57]
Experience Classicsonline

This is a reissue in Teldec’s 50th-anniversary celebrations of a 3-CD set last published as a such as recently as 2005. It has a new cover to match the current theme of ‘still lives with musical instruments’ – but the instruments seem to have been edited out of this cover. It has also been re-housed in a super jewel box which, nevertheless, cracked in the post. This reappearance of recordings from 1968, 1980 and 1981 welcome.
You need not invest in all three CDs in one go, though it is more economical to do so. The first CD is available on the super-budget Apex label, entitled ‘Renaissance Organ Music’. Johan van Veen thought the instruments interesting and wished for more information about them – there is, indeed, better documentation on this 3-CD set. He thought Tachezi’s playing not at all bad, but felt that there was more to the music than he was delivering (2564 604462 – see review).
The second disc is also available on the super-budget Apex label as ‘Baroque Organ Music Volume 1’, in which form it was again reviewed by Johan van Veen, who thought it an interesting programme but with too many problems to be recommended (2564 605252 – see review).
The second half of CD2 (from the Fischer Prelude and Fugue onwards) and the third CD are taken from recordings first issued on LP as long ago as 1968; one reviewer then described the playing as ‘admirably clear and neat’ and praised the quality of the recording, but complained about the high price of 47/6 (£2.38). Considering that this 3-CD set is on sale for around £11 and that 47/6 for about a quarter of its contents works out in present-day values at somewhere in excess of £50 puts CD prices into perspective!
The third disc includes the contents of Apex 2564 607132, which we don’t seem to have reviewed on MusicWeb International. When the greater part of this CD was first issued on LP, again in 1968, Tachezi’s playing was judged tasteful and stylish and the recording was praised for its truthfulness.
Words such as ‘tasteful’ and ‘stylish’, in fact, sum up my own feelings about Tachezi’s playing on these three CDs – remarkably consistently performances, indeed, across a span of thirteen years. It may be the fact that I value these qualities rather more than Johan van Veen that makes me find Tachezi’s 1975 accounts of the Handel Organ Concertos a very worthy runner-up to those of Ton Koopman: both are excellent value on Warner’s lowest-priced label. (Koopman on Apex 2564 627602, a well-deserved Bargain of the Month – see review; Tachezi on Apex 2564 699853). You won’t find him setting the world on fire – I didn’t, for example, hear much attempt to convey the hammer blows referred to in the title of the Muffat piece on CD3, track 2: Ad malleorum Ictus Allusio – but you will find thorough musicianship throughout. If in the last analysis he is rather too timid in the characterisation of each piece, that’s what makes Koopman’s Handel ultimately preferable. But where Koopman sometimes goes over the top and occasionally sounds wrong-headed - though not in the Handel concertos - Tachezi stays tactfully below the parapet. For the excesses which Koopman commits - and Tachezi avoids - see Chris Bragg’s review of the first volume of Koopman’s Buxtehude Organ Works (CC72243).
The programme features the organs employed, just as much as the composers and the performer. North German organs have, understandably, had a greater share of the limelight than those of South Germany and Austria. In recent months I have reviewed and enjoyed a considerable number of recordings of Buxtehude and his contemporaries on North German, Dutch and Danish instruments. I doubt if I should have enjoyed that music as much on these brighter-toned Austrian instruments, but the composers and their music on these CDs have been carefully chosen to suit the organs.
There are no ‘big names’ among the Austrian builders to rival their more famous North German contemporaries, though the Freundt family of Passau, one of whom, Johann Freundt, built the Klosterneuburg Festorgel in 1642, anticipated many of the developments made famous by Arp Schnitger. The Austrians don’t seem to be very interested in what they have – I couldn’t find much about the organ on the Stiftskirche Ossiach website, except that it was dedicated to the pianist Wilhelm Backhaus in 1971:

Die Orgel auf der Hauptempore aus dem Jahr 1971 ist dem berühmten Pianisten Wilhelm Backhaus gewidmet, der in dieser Kirche im Juni 1969 seinen letzten Klavierabend gab.

- but I did find information about the gastronomy of the area!
To the modern ear there may not seem to be a great deal of variety in the music – mostly bright in tone, like the organs employed – but, in fact, a wide range of periods and styles is actually accommodated here. The earliest piece is probably Johannes Kotter’s Salve regina, taken from the tablature book which Bonifacius Amerbach began in 1513; otherwise the selection ranges from the colourful music of early-16th-century Iberians such as Antonio de Cabezón’s Variations on Llano del Cavallero (CD1, tr.9) and Luis de Milán’s Pavane and Galliard (CD1, tr.10) to the larger-scale music of Johann Fischer with its almost Bachian proportions (Prelude and Fugue, CD2, tr.6).
If you still think of Johann Pachelbel as a one-work composer, you haven’t yet discovered the Ricercar recording of his cantatas (RIC255) which I recommended in my December, 2008, Download Roundup. His music features here on CDs 2 (trs. 10-13) and 3 (tr.13). For my money it is this Pachelbel music which steals the show and it is musically appropriate that his Chorale Prelude Ein feste Burg should end the programme, though ironic that a programme of music on the organs of Catholic Austria should end with the marching song of militant Lutheranism. Johann Speth’s Toccata quinta rounds off CD2 in similarly grand fashion, displaying the Festorgel’s 16’ capabilities to fine effect. For once, my doubts about 16’ tone on organs of this age are silenced, though, as the booklet points out, only a single reed stop has survived from the original instrument. As JV points out, these Klosterneuburg recordings were made before the 1983 restoration, a fact tactfully omitted in the booklet, which refers to the 1948-50 ‘restoration’ – little more than its rebuilding from the pipe-work which had been sent to Vienna. Nevertheless, the items here sound well enough, albeit a little quivery at times, for me to be happy at their inclusion pace JV’s opinion to the contrary.
The matrix numbers suggest that the recordings have been re-mastered for this reissue. Certainly all three discs sound well – even the late-1960s ADD sound on the second half of CD2 and CD3 wears its age well. The recordings are fairly close but not too close and there is enough air around the instruments to give an indication of the acoustics of the various buildings.
JV complained of a lack of notes in the Apex reissues; the tri-lingual booklet for this set is much more informative about the composers, their music and the instruments employed, including photographs of two of the organs and full specifications. It would have been helpful to have had the registration employed for each piece, but that is all that is seriously lacking. By and large, the virtues of these CDs outweigh any shortcomings.
Brian Wilson

Track detail
CD 1
Michelangelo Rossi (1601/02-1656) Toccate e correnti (1637) Toccata No.6 in G* [3:47]
Giovanni Gabrieli (1553/6-1612) Intonationi (1593) Canzon francese in E* [3:08]
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) Partite undecima sopra l’Aria di Monicha in G* [7:42]
Tarquinio Merula (1594/5-1665) Capriccio cromatico in D* [3:37]
Girolamo Frescobaldi Fiori musicali Op.12 : Toccata per l’Elevatione in E* [3:25]
Canzona No.3 in G* [3:45]
Tomás de Santa María (?-1570) 8 Fantasies in the 8 Church Modes (1565)** [9:16]
Enríquez Valderrábano (fl. mid-16thC) Fantasia primero grado (1547)** [2:33]
Antonio de Cabezón (1510-66) Diferencias sobre el Canto llano del Caballero ** [2:52 ]
Luis de Milán (c.1500-c.1561 or later) El Maestro (1536) X - Pavana & Galliarda ** [2:34]
Claudio Merulo (1533-1604) Toccata** [5:33]
Vincenzo Pellegrini ( ? – c.1631/2) Canzona per organo ‘La Serpentina’ (1599)** [2:28]
Michael Praetorius (?1571-1621) Hymn to the Holy Trinity, O Lux beata Trinitas ** [3:10]
Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537) Recordare (c.1521/4)** [2:35]
Johannes Kotter (c.1485-1541) Salve regina (1513) ** [9:38]
Christian Erbach (1568/73-1635) Ricercar secundi toni ** [10:34]

CD 2

Johann Jacob Froberger (1616-67) Keyboard Works Book 2: I Toccata prima in a minor* [4:28]
Johann Kaspar Kerll Toccata cromatica con Durezze e Ligature in e minor* [4:02]
Johann Jacob Froberger Keyboard Works Book 2 : VII Fantasia sopra Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La* [6:57]
Johannes Speth (1664-c.1720) Toccata prima in D major oder Erstes musicalisches Blumen-Feld (1693)* [3:47]
Georg Muffat (1653-1704) Toccata duedecima in G major (1690)* [6:06 ]
Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c.1662-1746) 20 Preludes & Fugues, Ariadne musica: No.1 in C major*** [5:41]
Johann Jacob Froberger : Keyboard Works Book 4: X Ricercare in G major*** [4:29]
Keyboard Works Book 4: XIII Capriccio in G Major*** [3:34]
Johann Kaspar Kerll : Canzona in D minor*** [3:36]
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) Toccata in E minor*** [2:25]
Chorale Prelude, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland *** [3:15]
Chorale Prelude, Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist *** [2:26]
Fugue in C major*** [2:44]
Johannes Speth Toccata quinta oder ‘Fünfftes musicalisches Blumen-Feld’ *** [2:53]

CD 3

Franz Xaver Anton Murschhauser (1663-1738) Praeambulum, Fugae, Finale tertii toni *** [6:51]
Georg Muffat Nova Cyclopeias Harmonica: Ad malleorum Ictus Allusio *** [8:03]
Johannes Speth Toccata quarta in e minor oder ‘Viertes musicalisches Blumen-Feld’ *** [3:47]
Johann Jacob Froberger Capriccio in C major*** [4:50]
Johann Krieger (1651-1735) Fantasia in d minor*** [1:56]
Johann Pachelbel Chorale with 8 Partitas, Alle Menschen müssen sterben *** [9:07]
Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer Prelude & Fugue in D minor*** [6:37]
Johann Krieger Toccata in D major^ [3:17]
Prelude & Ricercare in A^ [3:10]
Johann Jacob Froberger Canzona in F major^ [4:23]
Johann Kaspar Kerll Canzona in g minor^ [4:13]
Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725) Toccata & Fugue in A minor^ [3:51]
Johann Pachelbel Chorale Prelude, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott ^ [4:44]


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