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Yes, BWV565 is also included
November 23, 2010 2:08 PM   Subscribe

The complete organ works of J.S. Bach, as recorded by Dr. James Kibbie on several baroque organs. (via)
posted by Dr Dracator (23 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
*comes back 241 hours later, posts 'great post!'. dies* :-)
posted by facetious at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Amazing. Thank you so much for the link. My life has just been made better.

FB
posted by fordiebianco at 2:35 PM on November 23, 2010


Is it too early to ask how the recordings / performances are?
posted by grobstein at 2:36 PM on November 23, 2010


So ... odd question, but is anyone else noticing that these recordings are a half-step higher or lower than they should be? I don't think it's an issue of temperament -- I'm talking that the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor is coming out in Eb, and the one in F major seems to be shifted to E. My (digital and theoretically trustworthy) keyboard is backing me up on this, and my inner music nerd is confused and frightened. Halp.
posted by saturday_morning at 2:38 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So far the quality is excellent, though the interprations are a bit too American. Pauses over-emphasized, crescendos overdone, all a bit too dramatic. Still Bach, though.

And it's free.

FB
posted by fordiebianco at 2:39 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


saturday_morning: that's the first thing I noticed too.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2010


I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the organist roars through the most complex passages with dazzling facility, and that he articulates the rhythmic excitement of the music with a wonderful flexibility and clarity?

Kidding! I nicked that rave about the organist James Kibbie from the 2nd link! I'm barely even qualified to listen.

Brilliant post - I'm now going through the "popular masterworks" at top volume.

Thanks so much (and lovely post title, btw.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:02 PM on November 23, 2010


The Toccata and Fugue in F Major was played on the 1755 Gottfried Silbermann/Zacharias Hildebrandt organ, which evidently is tuned to a' = approx. 415 Hz as opposed to the modern standard of 440 Hz. That may explain the pitch oddities.

Apparently, "[i]n the period instrument movement, a consensus has arisen around a modern "baroque pitch" of 415 Hz."
posted by jedicus at 3:05 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


We can guess a number of things with regard to the tuning.

In most "period" ensembles that strive to perform the music as they believe it was performed at the time it was written, they tune way lower than a modern orchestra, sometimes as low as A=415 (a modern orchestra tunes A at 440-442 generally. So, many times when you hear a recording of Bach, it may sound almost a half step low (or more!)...

So that explains the lower sounding organs.. but to tune higher? Perhaps some of these organs are so old, or have been repaired so many times, that they are now sounding higher?

Some old pipe organs have mechanisms with which you can change the entire tuning of the organ.. so that's another possibility. The organist could prefer certain pieces to sound higher (or brighter) than others.

But, the more baroque music you listen to (especially by period ensembles), the more you will find that they often do NOT match your home piano or keyboard, unless you make your own adjustments.
posted by ReeMonster at 3:09 PM on November 23, 2010


tuned to a' = approx. 415 Hz as opposed to the modern standard of 440 Hz

Cool insight, thanks! I'd forgotten all about that.

But this is interesting: apparently the G minor one was played on an organ about 3/4 of a tone above modern tuning. I wonder how that squares with the "baroque pitch" idea.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:13 PM on November 23, 2010


Yeah the organs are all over the place, which was not uncommon in the past. Two of them are tuned to a' = 465 Hz and another to "approximately one whole step above modern pitch," which I guess is the B above concert A or ~493Hz. For reference 415 Hz is roughly the G below concert A and 465 Hz is roughly the B-flat above it.
posted by jedicus at 3:13 PM on November 23, 2010


So that explains the lower sounding organs.. but to tune higher?

The Wikipedia article on pipe organ tuning I linked a moment ago claims that higher tunings (Cornet-ton or 465 Hz) were common "in parts of Germany." There are some references for that claim that are pretty interesting [pdfs]. That second reference discusses J.S. Bach's tunings in great detail.
posted by jedicus at 3:17 PM on November 23, 2010


Very nice... My favorite composer.
posted by jgaiser at 3:47 PM on November 23, 2010


Man, these are really bright sounding* recordings. It's Bach, so yeah, but wow the tuning is indeed making me confused.

It's a great post.

It's funny how the period instrument thing is taken. There's a local Baroque festival in the summer and this year the head of the festival came out on stage before one of the performances to explicitly explain that they were performing on period instruments and that the timbre blah blah blah would be different. I'd never been to a concert before where they prepared the audience with that kind of disclaimer before.

*Tis the best description I can come up with on these.
posted by winna at 4:02 PM on November 23, 2010


Yeah jedicus has it right. There was a large variety of historical pitches, locally different, different in different venues, and changing over time. The modern "Baroque" pitch of 415 Hz is a compromise, and as such is indeed an "idea", as someone says above. One of the pioneering orchestras with old instruments, the Viennese Concentus Musicus, actually used something else than 415.
Some historical pitches were above modern, some were even below 415 Hz: French baroque pitch around 1700 was mostly 392 Hz or thereabouts for the theaters, and c. 404 Hz in chamber music.
The - at first confusing - practice is something one can train; one can develop several 'perfect' pitch standards that more or less can be activated at will. As a player, I'm pretty comfortable switching between 415 (my daily bread if I'm not researching), 430 (Viennese Classicism), and 440. 465 Hz is difficult for me: I automatically correct my chords when I hear what I play, before I can even think. I once had to do a recording with ensemble stuff and choir on 465 Hz, and I ended up using a lower-tuned instrument (a small continuo organ) playing from a transposition I had made.
posted by Namlit at 5:06 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


...explain that they were performing on period instruments and that the timbre blah blah blah would be different. I'd never been to a concert before where they prepared the audience with that kind of disclaimer before.

Luckily, the days are (largely; sometimes hopefully; sometimes not quite) over, when this kind of an explanation was intended as an actual disclaimer: "You're now going to hear something that might sound a little off, but that's what they did in the days". Well-played well-made historical instruments don't sound off these days.

There has been a growing tendency in Baroque concerts to talk to the audiences about what one is doing, and what instruments one is using, out of mere interest. I'm sure that some speakers still don't quite hit the right tone. The thing I find most useful, as a harpsichordist, is an invitation to a session of show and tell after the concert. Works fine if one's playing for 30 people, but not for a hundred, obviously.
posted by Namlit at 5:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Is it too early to ask how the recordings / performances are?

I prefer these pieces to be played more analytically, with more attention to making the structure of the music clear and making each note individually hearable (I almost always listen to the organ and clavier/harpsichord pieces while following along in a printed score.) Also I'd like more consistent tempi and fewer of those "Mighty Wurlitzer" triumphant endings (which one might call American, but "Schweitzerian" applies just as well.) Helmut Walcha is my favorite organist because he plays just that analytical way. There are plenty of people who don't care for Walcha at all and think his style is overintellectualized and underemotional. For me it's enough just to cram all the notes into my mind using eyes as well as ears, and the music shines through like the sun.

This gentleman can certainly play the pieces and has obviously put a massive amount of work into the project. Given that all the downloads are free I'm totally willing to listen all the way through several times and let him make his case for his way of doing it. I haven't any doubt there will be wonderful things and lots of them--especially since there are pieces here that I don't own, have never heard live, and are totally new to me. For that alone I'm grateful to Prof. Kibbie (also Dr Dracator for the post.) IMHO Jim Kibbie Wins Internet, for 2010 anyway.
posted by jfuller at 5:18 PM on November 23, 2010


This post is like a present! Thank you!

I know almost nothing about classical music, but I remember Bach's fugues from a high school music class, and have longed to hear them again.
posted by heatvision at 8:04 AM on November 24, 2010


Good thing there's a four-day weekend coming up. I think I know what most of it will be spent doing now.

Also, given the (admittedly fascinating) discussion about tunings in this thread, I'm just as glad I don't have perfect pitch.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:13 AM on November 24, 2010


I am flashing on a memory, perhaps false, perhaps implanted, of painstakingly placing every note of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor into Deluxe Music Construction Set on my Amiga 1000.

Thanks for that.
posted by otherthings_ at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2010


This is wonderful. Thank you.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2010


E. Power Biggs has a posse.
posted by ...possums at 3:21 PM on November 25, 2010


You don't need to sign your posts.

TL
posted by sanko at 9:47 PM on November 28, 2010


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