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Helmut Walcha|Johann Sebastian Bach : The Art of Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach : The Art of Fugue

Helmut Walcha au grand orgue de l'église Saint Laurent d'Alkmaar (Pays-Bas)

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Helmut Walcha's 1956 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of Fugue was the first stereo outing for Deutsche Grammophon, rightly regarded as one of the crowning achievements of the blind German organist who memorized Bach's entire catalog of organ works. Walcha performs on the 1725 Franz Casper Schnitger organ at the Laurenskerk in Altmaar, The Netherlands, one of the best preserved of all Baroque organs; its soundboards, keyboard, and most of the pipes are original to the 1720s. Deutsche Grammophon didn't have a way to issue this stereo recording in 1956, but had the foresight to utilize the technology anyway, as relatively few others did at that time; the stereo LP of The Art of Fugue finally made its bow in 1960. It has always been included in the various incarnations of the big Walcha box set of Bach's complete organ works available throughout the digital era. This separate issue in Archiv Produktion's Original Masters series, Helmut Walcha -- Bach: The Art of Fugue, is published to observe the centenary of Walcha's birthdate in 1907. There are numerous recordings of Bach's valedictory masterwork and nearly as many realizations of its "open" score ranging from the harpsichord that Bach likely intended to realizations for full orchestra. Nevertheless, for a long, long time critics generally considered Walcha's recording the gold standard for The Art of Fugue, and there are compelling reasons why this performance stands apart from the rest. Walcha favored the ordering of the 1927 Bärenreiter edition of the work prepared by Wolfgang Graeser; indeed, Walcha may have attended the first public performance of The Art of Fugue, given in Leipzig in Graeser's orchestral arrangement that same year. Graeser's was the first practical performing edition of the piece, and the concern about making Bach's jumbled score musically sound in practice appears here to override any other concerns. Walcha's use of registration renders all of Bach's sometimes knotty and frequently criss-crossing contrapuntal lines in this work completely clear. As Walcha plays from memory, the emotional content of the performance is natural, unforced, and of great depth. The sound of the Original Masters issue, though analog, is not dated and almost of digital quality in itself; clearly, this master tape has not been handled much, as it comes through clear as a bell, minus the tape hiss and gritty sonics that sometimes plague Deutsche Grammophon's 1950s recordings. This two-disc package is filled out with two trio sonatas, the C major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 547; the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564; and the famous D minor Toccata, all works recorded at the same 1956 sessions that produced The Art of Fugue. Some unscrupulous record labels have taken advantage of the long period in which this recording was unavailable as a separate performance in issuing Walcha's The Art of Fugue in a cheap, inferior package derived from an LP. Don't be fooled! Archiv Produktion's release is the real deal and should be the only one listeners pursue in order to experience this historically important, and in every way remarkable, recording.
© TiVo

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Johann Sebastian Bach : The Art of Fugue

Helmut Walcha

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The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

1
Contrapunctus 1
00:03:48

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

2
Contrapunctus 2
00:03:11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
Contrapunctus 3
00:03:18

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

4
Contrapunctus 4
00:05:27

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
Contrapunctus 5
00:04:14

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

6
Contrapunctus 6, a 4 in Stylo Francese
00:04:09

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

7
Contrapunctus 7, a 4 per Augmentationem et Diminutionem
00:03:57

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
Contrapunctus 8, a 3
00:06:36

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
Contrapunctus 9, a 4 alla Duodecima
00:04:14

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

10
Contrapunctus 10, a 4 alla Decima
00:04:13

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

11
Contrapunctus 11, a 4
00:07:34

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

12
No. 16 Canon alla Ottava
00:03:02

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

13
Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta
00:02:27

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

14
Canon alla Decima in Contrapunto alla Terza
00:04:46

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

15
Canon per Augmentationem in contrario moto - Contra- punctus, a 3
00:04:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

16
Contrapunctus 16., a 3 - rectus
00:02:51

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

17
Contrapunctus 16, a 3 - inversus
00:02:52

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

18
Contrapunctus 17, a 4 - rectus
00:03:04

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

19
Contrapunctus 17, a 4 - inversus
00:03:06

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

DISC 2

1
No. 18 Fuga a 4 Soggetti (unfinished)
00:08:42

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1960 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

2
I. Prelude
00:05:03

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
II. Fugue
00:05:30

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Trio Sonata No. 1 in E-Flat Major, BWV 525 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

4
I. (Allegro moderato)
00:03:14

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
II. Adagio
00:05:38

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

6
III. Allegro
00:04:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C Major, BWV 564 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

7
I. Toccata
00:05:26

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
II. Adagio
00:04:36

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
III. Fugue
00:05:11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Trio Sonata No. 6 in G major, BWV 530 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

10
I. Vivace
00:04:26

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

11
II. Lento
00:05:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Sonata No. 6 in G major, BWV 530 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

12
III. Allegro
00:04:10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

13
I. Toccata
00:02:35

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

14
II. Fugue
00:06:52

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Helmut Walcha, Organ, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dr. Erich Thienhaus, Producer, Balance Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1959 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Album Description

Helmut Walcha's 1956 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of Fugue was the first stereo outing for Deutsche Grammophon, rightly regarded as one of the crowning achievements of the blind German organist who memorized Bach's entire catalog of organ works. Walcha performs on the 1725 Franz Casper Schnitger organ at the Laurenskerk in Altmaar, The Netherlands, one of the best preserved of all Baroque organs; its soundboards, keyboard, and most of the pipes are original to the 1720s. Deutsche Grammophon didn't have a way to issue this stereo recording in 1956, but had the foresight to utilize the technology anyway, as relatively few others did at that time; the stereo LP of The Art of Fugue finally made its bow in 1960. It has always been included in the various incarnations of the big Walcha box set of Bach's complete organ works available throughout the digital era. This separate issue in Archiv Produktion's Original Masters series, Helmut Walcha -- Bach: The Art of Fugue, is published to observe the centenary of Walcha's birthdate in 1907. There are numerous recordings of Bach's valedictory masterwork and nearly as many realizations of its "open" score ranging from the harpsichord that Bach likely intended to realizations for full orchestra. Nevertheless, for a long, long time critics generally considered Walcha's recording the gold standard for The Art of Fugue, and there are compelling reasons why this performance stands apart from the rest. Walcha favored the ordering of the 1927 Bärenreiter edition of the work prepared by Wolfgang Graeser; indeed, Walcha may have attended the first public performance of The Art of Fugue, given in Leipzig in Graeser's orchestral arrangement that same year. Graeser's was the first practical performing edition of the piece, and the concern about making Bach's jumbled score musically sound in practice appears here to override any other concerns. Walcha's use of registration renders all of Bach's sometimes knotty and frequently criss-crossing contrapuntal lines in this work completely clear. As Walcha plays from memory, the emotional content of the performance is natural, unforced, and of great depth. The sound of the Original Masters issue, though analog, is not dated and almost of digital quality in itself; clearly, this master tape has not been handled much, as it comes through clear as a bell, minus the tape hiss and gritty sonics that sometimes plague Deutsche Grammophon's 1950s recordings. This two-disc package is filled out with two trio sonatas, the C major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 547; the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564; and the famous D minor Toccata, all works recorded at the same 1956 sessions that produced The Art of Fugue. Some unscrupulous record labels have taken advantage of the long period in which this recording was unavailable as a separate performance in issuing Walcha's The Art of Fugue in a cheap, inferior package derived from an LP. Don't be fooled! Archiv Produktion's release is the real deal and should be the only one listeners pursue in order to experience this historically important, and in every way remarkable, recording.
© TiVo

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