Notes and Editorial Reviews
For some, the most interesting thing about this release will be organist Gerhard Weinberger's discussion of the relative merits of Silbermann organs--those constructed by Bach contemporary Gottfried Silbermann--for playing Bach's music. Although for decades it's been assumed that because Bach was the greatest organist of his time and was involved in many aspects of the organ building process, and because Silbermann was regarded as one of the greatest organ builders in the region of Germany where Bach lived and worked, the Silbermann instruments were ideal for Bach's music. Weinberger suggests that these assumptions in many cases are false--that in fact there are fundamental problems with Silbermann's philosophy of organ design, realized in
significant structural components, that make performing many of Bach's works difficult if not impossible on at least some of these instruments. Specifically, this has to do with matters concerning lack of tonal independence in the pedal and lack of a "rich palette of foundation stops". No doubt Bach played these magnificent organs--there is well-documented evidence of such events in Dresden and Freiberg, for instance--but Weinberger makes a persuasive case for the likelihood that Bach preferred different instruments for his own music.
Nevertheless, Weinberger is a consummate professional and one who, as any resourceful organist would, makes whatever instrument he plays sound as if it's ideal for the repertoire at hand. And so his performances on the Silbermann organ at Ponitz, an instrument that dates to 1737, show the relatively minor works on this program as nothing less than brilliant, from his command of technique and proven affinity for Bach in general to his inventive choice of stops, illustrated to maximum effect in the 11 chorale preludes from the Third Part of the Clavier Übung. I'm not especially enamored of the theatre-organ-like sounds he achieves in the Prelude in F minor from BWV 534 or the chorale Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV 683, but because of the many appealing choices he makes on the rest of the disc, I can only assume that these decisions were made in the interest of variety and of putting the instrument through its paces. The sound seems to me somewhat swampy--a little too dense for the lightness of the works--but Weinberger's articulate voicings and finger/pedal technique preserves sufficient clarity to make this another strong entry in his complete Bach traversal for CPO.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Canzona in d, BWV 588 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Gerhard Weinberger (Organ)
Written: circa 1715; Weimar, Germany
Be the first to review this title