This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
*** This title is a reissue of a Japanese release with liner notes in Japanese. ***
Walcha's serene expressiveness is moving almost to the point of tears.
Luther regarded music (like the Salvation Army's General Booth in a later century) as being just as powerful a weapon as the word itself in fighting the devil, and from early times the organ had its own individual place in the Lutheran liturgy alongside the voice. But Bach went far beyond his contemporaries in depth of thought, wealth of symbolism and emotional power in his meditations on the chorales. In the immediate relationship between the text and the music he had no model, but himself became the model. His aim was as much didactic as
liturgical. The preface— "Solely in praise of God most high, that all mankind may learn thereby"—sums up the purpose of the 45 pieces of the Orgelbüchlein, conceived for the seasons of the church's year and most probably composed in 1717 while Bach was held under arrest in Weimar for a characteristic piece of recalcitrance (although this legend has been questioned by Walter Emery).
Most of the pieces are slight by comparison with what was to come later. But In dir ist Freude (BWV615) is mature Bach with the melody standing out in glad exuberance (most exciting on the brilliant upper work at St Pierre-le-Jeune); and at Passiontide Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund (BWV621) reveals his unerring instinct for the pictorial image: sketching the scene at Golgotha, the drooping form of the Crucified, the hands of Mary and the disciple imploringly uplifted like a Durer painting in sound. Both the soft foundation stops and the flutes are particularly mellow on this organ, and Walcha's serene expressiveness is moving almost to the point of tears in Alle Menschen mussen sterben (BWV643), and as the astringent cromhorn paints the exquisite melody of Herzlich tut mich verlangen (BWV727). The melting tenderness of Leibsterjesu (BWV633) and Ich ruf zu dir (BWV639) acquire a new magic.
-- Gramophone [12/1971, reviewing the LP release DGG Archive 2722 003]
Works on This Recording
Orgelbüchlein, BWV 599-644 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Helmut Walcha (Organ)
Written: circa 1714-1717; Weimar, Germany
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