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Liszt: Prelude & Fugue On B-a-c-h, Etc; Reubke / Trotter

Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 430244   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Julius ReubkeFranz Liszt
Performer:  Thomas Trotter
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

There are legions of recordings of Liszt's Prelude and Fugue on the name B-A-C-H and with justification. As I have already mentioned in my review of Kaunzinger's all-Liszt release which includes it, there are several ways of playing the work. The most extreme solution is Guillou's (Dorian/Conifer), where he helps himself to portions of a later piano arrangement. Kaunzinger comes somewhere in the middle and Trotter, like most British players, works from the most generally available published score. He is playing the organ of the Minister zur SchOnen Unsrer Lieben Frau at Ingolstadt, a very resonant acoustic. In the last soft episode of B-A-C-H a loud chord released at 11'29" is still sounding six seconds later with fascinating effect. Read more Similarly, at the end of the Prelude, the soft music arises from an echo almost as if Liszt had allowed for this to happen.

Much as I enjoyed Kaunzinger's rather wayward performance, I have found equal enjoyment in Trotter's, with plenty of excitement provided by the large instrument in this acoustic. His concern with the architecture of the work and its controlled movement towards climaxes is always con vincing. This is the organist's tradition in Liszt, whereas pianists might have been inclined to use more rubato.

Trotter's other Liszt offerings are all arrangements which, along with the Reubke Sonata, make for a generous CD of 73 minutes. The Ave Maria (also known as Gebet) was arranged by A. W. Gottschalg, who worked closely with Liszt. Orpheus, the symphonic poem, was arranged by R. Schaab, another contemporary of Liszt's, but Prometheus is a transcription by Guillou. The orchestral work was scored by Raff, not Liszt, so Guillou has a free hand in applying the notions of the period about transcription to an orchestral piece not treated that way by the composer. It works and Trotter responds brilliantly.

It is incredible to think that Julius Reubke, a pupil of Liszt, wrote his masterly Sonata on the 94th Psalm before dying at the age of 24. Rightly regarded as a pinnacle of romantic organ music, it demands much from both player and instrument. I cannot take Guillou seriously. He mercilessly adds stops to make the delicate crescendos in the opening phrases and by the second page some of his four-beat bars are being played in three. This is pointlessly eccentric, telling us more about the performer than the music. Who needs it?

Trotter is quite different; a thoroughly responsible interpreter in the tradition of British performers exemplified at its best by Simon Preston (DG). Trotter seems aware of Preston's recording. At 14'25" in the central Adagio they both give the marcato the same reedy protrusion. At other places there are slight differences. I prefer Preston's faster pace at the opening, but he turns out to be slower than Trotter in the Adagio. Preston is superbly recorded and he knows every detail of his instrument at Westminster Abbey, which tells. With both players the fugue sweeps inevitably to its doom-laden conclusion—how wrong the antics of Guillou are here!

If I say that there is not a great deal to choose between Trotter and Preston, that is the highest praise since Preston's is a great recording. Trotter's fugue is slower—in that acoustic it needed to be—and at times the recorded bass seems weak. Otherwise he is vividly recorded and his Reubke, along with Liszt's B-A-C-H and the novelties, make this a splendid collection.

-- Gramophone [2/1991]
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Organ in C minor "94th Psalm" by Julius Reubke
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857; Germany 
Venue:  Liebfrauenmunster, Ingolstadt, W Germany 
Prelude and Fugue for Organ on B-A-C-H, S 260 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855/1870; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Liebfrauenmunster, Ingolstadt, W Germany 
Ave Maria (Arcadelt), S 659 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Rome, Italy 
Orpheus, S 98 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853-1854; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Liebfrauenmunster, Ingolstadt, W Germany 
Prometheus, S 99 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850/1855; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Liebfrauenmunster, Ingolstadt, W Germany 

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