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Bach - Transcriptions And Variations / Oppitz


Release Date: 08/01/2004 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98479   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Max RegerFranz LisztJohann Sebastian BachWilhelm Kempff,   ... 
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

We can’t, of course, know how Bach would have reacted to the sound of his music rendered with a Steinway piano or a Philadelphia Orchestra, though he reportedly didn’t care for an early Cristofori piano that was presented for his inspection sometime in the 1730s. But the notion that he would have objected in principle to transcriptions of his works is, to my way of thinking, nonsense. Transcription was an essential element of the compositional practice of Bach and his contemporaries; witness Bach’s organ arrangements of Vivaldi, and the copious cross-traffic between his harpsichord and violin concertos, masses, and cantatas, and so forth. Ergo, later transcriptions of Bach are at least entitled to an unbiased hearing on their own merits. Read more Enough said.

It would be particularly unfortunate for this unique two-disc release to be dismissed on such misguided grounds. The first CD offers three sets of variations on Bachian and Bach-related themes; the second, a generous selection of transcribed chorale preludes and similar works. Liszt’s piano transcriptions of Bach’s major organ preludes and fugues have previously been recorded by Artur Pizarro (Collins) and Michel Block (O.M.)—both releases now, apparently, deleted. And there are a couple of other recordings of the Reger variations, which are just as expansive and imaginative as one would expect from acquaintance with the composer’s similar efforts on themes of, e.g., Mozart and Telemann. But most of the works recorded here appear to be available nowhere else, notably a group of eight transcriptions by Oppitz’s mentor and sometime teacher Wilhelm Kempff. Thus, this release is a most welcome addition to the catalog simply on repertoire grounds, if nothing else. In fact, there is much else.

If one allows an analogy between musical transcription and the translation of verbal language, these performances are very much idiomatic translations as opposed to literal ones. Oppitz has no compunctions whatever about exploiting the resources, both of the piano itself and of post-Bach performance practice, to shape his renditions with judicious rubato and grand dynamic climaxes. At the same time, there’s no sacrifice at all of the textural clarity this repertoire so often demands. Listen, for example, to the densely interwoven voices of the Bach/Kempff “Wachet auf”; you won’t believe all this is being done with only ten fingers.

Nor is anything left wanting in the presentation of this tasty musical repast: Unexceptionable sound quality; a space-saving double-gatefold jewel box; generous and informative annotation by Ingo Harden and Oppitz himself. You’ve read this far; buy these discs.

James Carson, FANFARE
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Variations and Fugue for Piano on a theme of JS Bach, Op. 81 by Max Reger
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Germany 
2.
Variations on "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" (JS Bach) for Piano, S 180 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Rome, Italy 
3.
Prelude and Fugue for Organ on B-A-C-H, S 260 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855/1870; Weimar, Germany 
4.
Wir danken dir, Gott, BWV 29: no 1, Sinfonia in D major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes:   
5.
Fantasy and Fugue of JS Bach in G minor (BWV 542) for Piano, S 463 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1863 
6.
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
7.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; ?Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
8.
Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit by Wilhelm Kempff
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
9.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
10.
Orgelbüchlein: Ich ruf'zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1713-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
11.
Chorale Preludes (6) BWV 645-650 "Schübler": no 1, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1748-1749; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
12.
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Germany 
Notes: Transcribed: Ferruccio Busoni 
13.
Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in E flat major, BWV 1031: 2nd movement, Siciliano by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1734; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Wilhelm Kempff. 
14.
Chaconne for Piano in D minor (after Bach, BWV 1004), K B24 by Ferruccio Busoni
Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1897 

Sound Samples

Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J.S. Bach, Op. 81: Theme and Variations No. 1-14
Variations and Fugue on a Theme of J.S. Bach, Op. 81: Fugue
Variations on Bach's Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen and Crucifixus from the Mass in B minor, S180/R24: Variations on the motif "Weinen, klagen, sorgen, zagen", S180/R24
Prelude and Fugue on the name B-A-C-H, S260/R381: Prelude
Prelude and Fugue on the name B-A-C-H, S260/R381: Fugue
Sinfonia from the Ratswahlkantate: BWV 29 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Fantasy and Fugue, S463/R120 (based on Bach's Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 542): Fantasy
Fantasy and Fugue, S463/R120 (based on Bach's Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 542): Fugue
Jesus bleibet meine Freude: BWV 147 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Nun komm' der heiden Heiland: BWV 659a (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit: BWV 307 and 734 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Herzlich tut mich verlangen: BWV 727 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ: BWV 639 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme: BWV 645 (arr. W. Kempff for piano)
Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565: Toccata
Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565: Fugue
Flute Sonata: BWV 1031: II. Siciliano
Bach - Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: V. Chaconne: Violin Partita BWV 1004: Chaconne (arr. F. Busoni for piano)

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