Notes and Editorial Reviews
Toccata and Fugue in d,
Prelude and Fugue in E?,
Prelude and Fugue in g,
Passacaglia in c,
Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C,
Herbert Tachezi (org)
Bach, a composer who reveled in form, would have appreciated this recording. Five of his familiar organ favorites but five different forms. Herbert Tachezi is neither eccentric nor radical; neither firebreathingly fast nor turgidly slow. Yet his moderation and solid performances allow Bach’s genius to emerge and speak for itself. Thus, the star of this recording is not Tachezi but Bach. This is the way it should be. The juxtaposition of these five works provides an occasion to revel in Bach’s genius. How does his music still sound so fresh nearly 300 years after it was written? How can he continue to dazzle us in music that is so familiar? He constantly brings us to new levels of pleasure and enjoyment, only to keep bringing us higher.
The Prelude and Fugue in E?, the “St. Anne,” long has been a personal favorite. I first learned it from the recording of E. Power Biggs. Yet, after listening to his recording for many years, Biggs sounds more ponderous. Tachezi plays the prelude a full minute faster than Biggs, yet never sounds rushed. His pace is similar to that of Helmut Walcha. Tachezi opens the Fugue with a slower pace but ends with a flurry, and with pedal playing nicely captured by the engineers.
The closing passage of the prelude of BWV 542 is one of the glorious moments in all of music. The pedals descend ever deeper while the keyboard inches higher, finally coming to rest in a massive, dissonant chord. Then the Fugue explodes with rhythm and energy. Tachezi’s pace feels natural, allowing Bach’s nuances to emerge. His pace is slower than Biggs in the Prelude but about the same as Walcha, whose bigger sound makes a more dramatic impact.
BWV 564 presents the organist with many options. Tachezi takes a slower pace than Trevor Pinnock in the Toccata, but this pace allows each note to sound clearly. In this movement, Peter Hurford and Marie-Claire Alain remain my choice, but Tachezi makes an acceptable alternative. Like Hurford, Tachezi chose a reed sound for the Adagio, but Hurford’s sound is pleasing while Tachezi’s is slightly irritating and shrill. Pinnock’s more moderate settings allow us to hear Bach’s melody in its beauty and simplicity. The closing measures of the Adagio rank as among Bach’s most magical. Hurford handles this passage with great dignity while both Pinnock and Alain make this a serene meditation. Tachezi’s approach is rather matter-of-fact, not bad but not particularly memorable. Some, like Hurford, end the Fugue quietly, but Tachezi, like Alain, builds to a major climax. For the entire BWV 564, Alain remains my favorite, but Tachezi is competitive, and, except for the irritating reeds in the Adagio, enjoyable.
Tachezi selects a nice forward moving tempo for the BWV 582 Passacaglia. Here Biggs takes a softer, more relaxed approach, while Hurford brings greater drama and energy. In every respect, Tachezi is preferable to Walcha and competitive with Biggs, but Hurford wins the day. In BWV 565, Tachezi does not match the Hurford’s electricity, but gives a solid performance nonetheless.
The recording may not be demonstration class, but it brings to life the full range of the organ of the Court Church of Dresden. As a budget issue, the price is attractive. In a crowded and highly competitive field, Tachezi deserves to be heard. Recommended.
FANFARE: John E. Roos
Works on This Recording
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Herbert Tachezi (Organ)
Written: circa 1708-1712; Arnstadt, Germany
Venue: Court Church, Dresden, Germany
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