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Original Masters - Helmut Walcha - Bach: Organ Works


Release Date: 02/10/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000185602   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Mono 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Helmut Walcha's sober, unselfregarding, and uncommonly clear Bach interpretations dominated the German organ school of the 1950s and '60s, mirroring Otto Klemperer's similar hold over the German symphonic repertoire. His 1956-71 stereo Bach organ music cycle, though "less complete" than sets containing works of arguable authenticity alongside the real deals (Preston's Decca cycle, for example), still holds its own as a reference version. Walcha also recorded the Bach cycle in mono, inaugurating DG's historic Archiv label in 1947 and continuing the project through 1952. These performances are now reissued for the first time together under one roof (if you don't count an earlier Japanese boxed-set release).

Sonically
Read more speaking, they hold up remarkably well for their vintage, although you hear tiny instances of tape warpage or distortion in the upper partials. The major difference between mono and stereo cycles has to do with the instruments and registrations. The 1947 sessions utilize the small organ of St. Jakobi in Lübeck, whose wind and brass stops have a tart, almost nasal quality that contrasts to the smoother, subtler blends characterizing the organ by Saint-Pierre-de-Jeune in Strasbourg heard in the stereo recordings. Similar parallels hold true between the rosy Arp Schnitger organ in Cappel (the mono recordings include Walcha demonstrating its registration, followed by an improvisation) and the clarion brightness of the organ of St. Laurenskerk in Alkmaar (stereo).

As an interpreter, the younger Walcha proves just as consistent and dependable as his older self, commanding a supple, secure technique that allowed no blurred lines or flustered textures. That goes for his feet as well as his hands. To be sure, A/B comparisons yield differing perspectives. Some performances convey more rhythmic propulsion and swing, such as the Trio Sonatas and a particularly exciting D minor Toccata and Fugue (yes, the famous one). Conversely, many chorale preludes (like those contained within the German Organ Mass) and the great C minor Passacaglia and Fugue benefit from subtler registrations and slightly faster, more fluid tempos in the later recordings. And Walcha initially used a harpsichord for the Four Duets BMV 802-5 but reverted to the organ for his remake.

These differences, however, are of no major consequence, and I'd still refer general collectors to the later cycle for its vibrant stereophony and for its inclusion of Walcha's classic 1956 The Art of Fugue. Although Walcha's mono Bach will appeal primarily to specialists, DG's production team deserves high praise for its splendid and honest remastering work.

– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 531 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Arnstadt, Germany 
2. Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 533 "Little Prelude and Fugue" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1707; Arnstadt, Germany 
3. Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
4. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 "Dorian" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
5. Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
6. Fantasie and Fugue in C minor, BWV 562 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
7. Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
8. Prelude and Fugue in E major, BWV 566 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
9. Fantasie in G major, BWV 572 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1706; Arnstadt, Germany 
10. Fugue in G minor, BWV 578 "Little G minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1706; Arnstadt, Germany 
11. Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582: Passacaglia by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Arnstadt, Germany 
Notes: Composition written: Arnstadt, Germany (Circa 1708 - Circa 1712). 
12. Canzona in d, BWV 588 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715; Weimar, Germany 
13. Allabreve in D major, BWV 589 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
14. Pastorale in F major, BWV 590 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1710; Weimar, Germany 
15. Trio Sonata for Organ no 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
16. Trio Sonata for Organ no 3 in D minor, BWV 527 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
17. Trio Sonata for Organ no 4 in E minor, BWV 528 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
18. Trio Sonata for Organ no 5 in C major, BWV 529 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
19. Trio Sonata for Organ no 6 in G major, BWV 530 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
20. Klavierübung Volume 3, BWV 669-689 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; Leipzig, Germany 
21. Duet for Organ in E minor, BWV 802 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739 
22. Duet for Organ in F major, BWV 803 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739 
23. Duet for Organ in G major, BWV 804 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739 
24. Duet for Organ in A minor, BWV 805 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739 
25. Chorales (18) for Organ, BWV 651-668 "Leipzig" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Germany 
26. Orgelbüchlein, BWV 599-644 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1714-1717; Weimar, Germany 
27. Chorale Preludes (6) BWV 645-650 "Schübler" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Written: c1748-49 
28. Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Germany 
29. Prelude and Fugue in F minor, BWV 534 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
30. Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 539 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720-1725 
31. Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
32. Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 "Great G minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
33. Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
34. Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 545 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
35. Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Notes: Composition written: ?Weimar, Germany (1708 - 1717). 
36. Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548 "Wedge" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
37. Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 550 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708 
38. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Germany 
39. Trio Sonata for Organ no 2 in C minor, BWV 526 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
40. Prelude and Fugue in E flat major, BWV 552 "St Anne" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739; Leipzig, Germany 
41. Prelude and Fugue in A major, BWV 536 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
42. Fantasie and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708 - 1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Notes: Composition written: ?Weimar, Germany (1708 - 1717). 
43. Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
44. Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1723; ?Leipzig, Germany 
45. Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 551 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1707 

Sound Samples

Improvisations at the Schnittger Organ in Cappel
Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 531
Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532: Prelude and Fugue
Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 533
Prelude and Fugue in F minor, BWV 534
Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535
Prelude and Fugue in A, BWV 536
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 "Dorian"
Prelude (Fantasy) and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537
Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 539: 2. Fugue
Toccata (Prelude) and Fugue in F, BWV 540
Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 541
Prelude (Fantasy) and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 - "Great"
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543: Prelude and Fugue
Prelude and Fuge in B minor, BWV 544

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Pure joy. August 25, 2012 By Dr. Mitchell Gurk (Spencer, MA) See All My Reviews "Music that is witty and humorous. Sonics are excellent. Feels like the organ pipes are built into the walls of my home. Walcha's performance here sounds objective and dispassionate, letting the music speak for itself. Not until reading the insert notes do we learn that HW recorded all of Bach twice, first in the 1950s in Mono - this one; later, c. 1979, in stereo. It would have been good to have had that info prior to purchase, in the album description. Tho, nothing lacking from this earlier production. Many of the great ones you can only get mono." Report Abuse
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