The first two volumes of Walcha’s chorale preludes featured Wolfgang Rubsam, a student of Walcha. Delbert Disselhorst is in charge for this disc and for volume 4. He is another former student of the blind organist. We hear again the organ of the First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Illinois.
It is tempting to compare this recording with the earlier discs by Rubsam, especially considering that they have the same forces available. Disselhorst has a liking for the many mutation stops on this sizable instrument which becomes a little overwhelming after the first few tracks. The chromatic nature of Walcha’s writing coupled with the unequal tuning - Herbert Kellner’s ‘Bach’ should you wish to know - makes the first chorale very ear-catching but make the fourth rather less so.
The very interesting linear notes, written by Rudolf Zuiderveld describe Walcha’s playing as having a “flexibility and spontaneous quality”. Walcha’s connection with Bach persuaded me to compare Bach’s own settings of these chorale melodies with Walcha’s own. In particular I found that Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt - which describes Adam’s fall from grace, told in the book of Genesis -is set by Bach using a very angular pedal line and is usually played at quite a lick. Walcha’s composition, which uses the same starting point, contains similar thematic material yet the registration chosen by Disselhorst means the lower parts (those actually composed by Walcha) remain rather woolly and unclear. It is also performed rather slowly, making it difficult to realise the subject matter without knowing the title of the piece, rather in opposition to Walcha’s own playing. All 45 seconds of In Gottes Namen fahren wir is performed with more aplomb with lively articulation and forward motion.
If you have enjoyed listening to this or any other volume of Walcha’s chorale preludes then I thoroughly recommend similar works by Max Reger (1873-1916) which are also miniature expressions of technical and artistic merit. A review of the disc performed by Martin Welzel reviewed by a MusicWeb International colleague can be found here.
For my reviews of volumes 1 and 2 of Walcha’s chorale preludes please see here and here.
Previous review: Byzantion
No.1: Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen [3:33]
No.2: Ihr lieben Christen, freut euch nun [1:47]
No.3: Wie soll ich dich empfagen [1:49]
No.4: Ich steh an deiner Krippe hier [2:34]
No.5: O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig [3:19]
No.6: Christe, du Lamm Gottes [2:26]
No.7: Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ [1:14]
No.8: Du grosser Schmerzensmann [2:05]
No.9: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland [2:34]
No.10: Gelobt sei Gott im höchsten Thron [2:25]
No.11: Auf, auf, mein Herz mit Freuden [2:40]
No.12: Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist [1:51]
No.13: Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir [1:49]
No.14: Jauchzt, alle Lande, Gott zu Ehren [2:16]
No.15: Nun danket all und bringet Ehr [2:06]
No.16: Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten [3:29]
No.17: Vater unser im Himmelreich [1:39]
No.18: Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt [2:47]
No.19: Mein Leben ist ein Pilgrimstand [1:47]
No.20: In Gottes Namen fahren wir [0:45]
No.21: Mein erst Gefühl sei Preis und Dank [1:32]
No.22: All Morgen ist ganz frisch und neu [1:37]
No.23: Mein schönste Zier und Kleinod bist [2:34]
No.24: Der Mond ist aufgegangen [3:04]