SACD405 Robert Clark Plays Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Robert Clark Plays Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
The Brombaugh Organ, Opus 35 at
SACD405, Dual Disc Set $34.00
SACD playable as:
- CD STEREO on all regular cd players
- SACD STEREO on all SACD players
- SACD 5-CHANNEL SURROUND on all SACD players
|Concerto in A minor, after Antonio Vivaldi, BWV 593|
|Trio Sonata No. 4 in E minor, BWV 528|
|6.||Un poco allegro|
|Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BMV 564|
|Six "Schübler" Chorales|
|10.||Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645|
|11.||Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 646|
|12.||Wer nur lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 647|
|13.||Meine Seele erhebt den Herm, BWV 648|
|14.||Ach bleib' bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 649|
|15.||Kommst du nun, Jesu vom Himmel herunter, BWV 650|
|Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540|
|1.||Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582|
|Trio Sonata No. 3 in D minor, BWV 527|
|3.||Adagio e dolce|
|5.||Pastorella in F major, BWV 590|
|Five Chorales from the "Great Eighteen"|
|6.||Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott, BWV 652|
|7.||Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend', BWV 655|
|8.||O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV 656|
|9.||Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 657|
|10.||Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, BWV 667|
|11.||Pièce d'Orgue, BWV 572|
Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn, BWV 648 (from Six Schübler Chorales) by Johann Sebastan Bach
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, BWV 667 by Johann Sebastian Bach
FROM THE ARTIST
Preparing a recording of Bach organ works presents a challenge as well as a paradox. This music virtually defines that which is permanent and endearing, superceding the many perceptions of style and tradition that have colored the performance of these works since the mid-18th century. On the other hand, I find that Bach's organ works, despite the level of knowledge and scholarship we think we have achieved, present surprises and suggest new perceptions every time we rethink and review them. Thus a Bach recording serves only as a document reflecting the current state of scholarship and style, as well as the performer's will to communicate the grandeur of the music. These continuously change and grow so long as the performer, scholar and musical public look honestly at the music, reflecting upon its meaning historically and in modern context.
I would like to thank especially Nichol DelGiorno, Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Illinois, and Rudolf Zuiderveld, organist of the church, for their generous support in making this recording possible. I am indebted to Peter Van Eenam who served as my personal session manager throughout the recording. The builder of the organ, John Brombaugh, supported our efforts by being constantly available for tuning and regulation during the recording sessions. Jonathan Wearn, whose rich expereince in recording many artists, is an artist in his own right, who uses recording technology as a means toward the end of making music happen with clarity of detail and expert manipulation of space and acoustics. All of this makes it possible to move into the new realm of SACD recording.
Finally, this recording is offered as a tribute to the builder of the Springfield organ, John Brombaugh, who has challenged hosts of musicians, teachers, and organbuilders throughout his long career. Indeed, his instruments, like great music, continue to challenge the player to find renewed meaning and expressive content in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, his favorite composer.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was renowned as one of the greatest organists of his time, and his organ compositions affected the future of keyboard performance and composition more profoundly than those of any other musician. Ironically, he never had day-to-day use of any of the great organs of his time. Indeed, for most of his career, as Kapellmeister at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen (1717-1723) and as Cantor at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig (1723-1750), providing organ music was not part of his professional responsibilities. It was in the years at Arnstadt (1703-1707), Mühlhausen (1707-1708), and, most of all, at Weimar (1708-1717) that most of the great preludes and fugues were written. In fact, nearly all of the free works recorded here can be dated to the Weimar years; only the two Trio Sonatas come from Leipzig. His activities in those years included providing pedagogical materials for keyboard instruments, revising older pieces, and rearranegements. His organ output from that time reflects those concerns: the six Trio Sonatas were written in 1727 for the instruction of his teenaged sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emmanuel; the 18 Chorales were revised from pieces written in Weimar; and the Schübler Chorales were arranged for solo organ in the late 1740's from cantata movements which he had written in the 1720's and 1730's.
Concerto in A minor, BWV 593 (Disc I: 1-3)
A decisive event for Bach's writing was Prince Johann Eernst of Saxe-Wewimar's acquisition of scores of concerti by Antonio Vivaldi in 1713. Through them Bach became acquainted with Vivaldi's masterful use of ritornello form, which would become a hallmark of Bach's organ preludes and choral works. The concerti also provided grist for the mill of his virtuosity as an organ performer. Using the organ's brilliant Rück positiv manual as the concerto soloist and the more stolid Hauptwerk manual as the orchestra, Bach could dazzle his listeners by taking all parts of the concerto himself. The Concerto in A minor (BWV 593), taken from Vivaldi's Op. 3, No. 8, was one of three Vivaldi Concerti which Bach arranged for solo organ.
Sonata IV in E minor, BWV 528 (Disc I: 4-6)
In the six Trio Sonatas, Bach adapted the texture of chamber music to the organ. The two upper parts, taken by the hands on two different manuals, correspond to two treble instruments, and the bass line, now on the pedal, takes the place of cello or double bass. The interweaving of voices, the subtlety of the harmonies, and the clarity of texture which are so delightful do not betray the difficulty that these pieces present to the performer. Indeed, Albert Schweitzer considered them the most difficult pieces ever written for the organ. The first movement of Sonata IV in E minor (BWV 528) is a transcription of the sinfonia that opens the second part of Cantata 76, where it is scored for viola da gamba, d'more, and continuo.
Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue, BWV 564 (Disc I: 7-9)
Although the dazzling manual passages and virtuoso pedal solo that begin the Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue (BWV 564) seem drawn from North German tradition, Italian influences are also evident. The three movement structure is reminiscent of concertos, as is the texture of the body of the toccata. The florid melody and pizzacato bass of the Adagio also evoke the concerto. The transition to the gigue-style fugue is drawn from a different Italian tradition, that of Girolamo Frescobaldi, whose Fiori musicali was in Bach's music library.
The Six "Schübler" Chorales, BWV 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 650 (Disc I: 10-15)
Sometime in the late 1740's, Bach made arrangements of six chorale settings to be published by Johann Georg Schübler, from whom they derive their nickname. Five of them are transcriptions of movements from cantatas which Bach wrote between 1723 and 1731. Wachet auf (BWV 645) is adapted from the central movement of Cantata 140, where the chorale melody was given to the tenor and the obbligato to the unison strings. The technical idiom of the second piece, Wo soll ich fliehen hin (BWV 646), suggests that it may have been originally for keyboard, if it was adapted from a cantata movement, its original has been lost. Wer nur lieben Gott lässt wulten (BWV 647) is derived from a duet for soprano and alto from Cantata 93. A duet is also the basis of Meine Seele erhebt den Herren (BWV 648); this one, from Cantata 10, is for alto and tenor, with the cantus firmus in the trumpet (at the first performance in 1724) or oboes (in a later performance.) The charming Ach, bleib bei uns (BWV 649) stems from a soprano chorale in Cantata 6 with an obbligato by the violoncelle piccolo. The tune for Kommst du nun, Jesu (BWV 650) is used in British and American hymnals for the words "Praise to the Lord, the almighty." Bach gives it a wide-ranging obbligato (originally for violin in Cantata 137) over a dancing bass.
Toccata and Fugue in F minor, BWV 540 (Disc I: 16-17)
The F major Toccata (BWV 540) is a virtuoso piece of the first order, and its contrasting textures provide many musical delights. There are canons played over long pedal notes; there are pedal solos; there are dance-like passages; and there are three trio textures in invertible counterpoint. The fugue is completely different. Its first subject unfolds in stately half-notes, and a second fugue in eighth-notes provides an enlivening contrast. The two subjects are finally combined in a stirring finale.
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 (Disc II: 1)
The writing of variations over a constantly reiterated bass line (a "ground bass" or "ostinato") was a device used frequently during the Baroque era. Bach would almost certainly have known passacaglias by Buxtehude and Pachelbel. His own contribution to the genre, Passacaglia in C minor (BWV 582), probably written before 1712, expands the form by its longer bass line (eight bars instead of the more usual four) and by the inclusion of a brilliant fugue at the end. The ostinato is heard most frequently in the bass, but it travels to all voices and is altered rhytmically in different ways before its first half becomes the subject of the fugue. Here it is combined with two striking countersubjects, one in eight-notes and one is sixteenths which propel the piece onward. This monumental work has served to define ostinato form for later musicians - a heady tribute to a composer who had not yet reached the age of 30 when he wrote the piece.
Trio Sonata No. 3 in D minor, BWV 527 (Disc II: 2-4)
The warmth of the keys of D minor (in the outer movements) and F major (in the slow movement) give this sonata an individual character. Bach would return to the Adagio e dolce sometime after 1730 to rearrange it as the slow movement of his Triple Concerto for Flute, Violin, and Harpsichord, BWV 1044.
Pastorella, BWV 590 (Disc II: 5)
The four-movement Pastorella (also called "Pastorale," BWV 590) is a group of pieces largely for manuals only. The 12/8 meter of the first movement and the musette-like drones of the second recall Baroque practices in writing music that had to do with shepherds, and it is thought that Bach would have used this Pastorella during the Christmas season. The affecting chromaticism of the third movement and the busy figuation of the fourth round out this charming little suite.
Five Chorales from the "Great Eighteen", BWV 652, 655, 656, 657 and 667 (Disc II: 6-10)
Chorales, or German congregational hymns, formed the backbone of Lutheran liturgical music. Bach inherited a rich tradition of arranging chorales for organ, and he devoted masterly attention to the genre at many times in his life. Most of the 18 Chorales were written in Weimar and revised in Leipzig during the 1740's. Chorale settings usually focus on the orderly presentation of each phrase of the chorale. In Komm, Heiliger Geist (BWV 652), each phrase is treated imitatively in the accompaniment before it appears with graceful ornaments in the solo stops. At the end, all parts break into ecstatic sixteenths, an instrumental expression of the text "Alleluia!" In the chorale trio Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend (BWV 655) Bach takes a different tack. Here motives from the chorale melody have been treated like freely composed material, much like the Sonatas, and it is only on the last page that the tune is heard as a cantus firmus in the pedal. O Lamm Gottes (BWV 656) was a German Lutheran substitute for the threefold Agnus Dei of the Roman Mass; Bach accordingly set three verses. The chorale melody is heard first in the treble, then in the middle voice, and last in the bass; this is thought to be a symbol for the Holy Trinity. The gripping harmonices in the third section explore the limits of Baroque chromaticism. Bach used the same technique of "pre-imitation" in Nun danket alle Gott (BWV 657) as he did in Komm, Heiliger Geist, though here the familiar melody is stated without decoration. Bach also set more than one verse in Komm Gott, Schöpfer (BWV 667). The first, with the chorale in the soprano and the bass notes consistently off the beat, is drawn from the Orgelbüchlein, another collection of short chorale preludes from the Weimar years. In this expanded version, what had been the final chord dissolves into dazzling sixteenth-notes, and the melody appears in the pedal.
Pièce d'Orgue (BWV 572)
The Pièce d'Orgue (BWV 572) has gone by different titles over the years, Preludio and Fantasia among them. In spite of the use of French for title and tempo indications, the piece is much more Central German than it is French, and is reminiscent of the music of Bach's "grand-teacher" Johann Pachelbel. The opening figuration (Très vitement) gives way to a severely contrapuntal Gravement that is filed with harmonic tension. After a surprising cadence on a diminished seventh chord, the piece closes (Lentement) with manual cascades over a chromatic descending bass.
-John David Peterson
Robert Clark is widely known as an organ rectialist and teacher. Formerly Professor of Organ at the University of Michigan from 1964-1981, he directed the program of organ instruction at Arizona State University from 1981 until his retirement in 1998. In 1982 Clark served on the international jury for the Grand Prix de Chartres, an international competition for young organists. He has appeared as a concert organist in North America and Europe and is a frequent presenter at conferences and conventions. He is, with John David Peterson, co-editor of the highly acclaimed Concordia edition of the Bach's Orbelbüchlein.
His students have won or placed in major competitions including Fort Wayne, Flint, St. Alban's, and the American Guild of Organists. In 1990 he was a featured teacher at the National Pedagogy Conference of the American Guild of Organists in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1992 Clark, in cooperation with Westfield Center for Early Keyboard Studies, was instrumental in directing a symposium, "The Historical Organ in America," at Arizona State University, which drew 350 organists, organbuilders and scholars from North America, Asia, and Europe.
Clark has recorded on the Gryphone and Calcante labels. Two of his recordings were nominated for "critic's choice" awards in 1999 in the American Record Guide. His recent recording, Bach at Naumberg was named an "editors's choice" in the British journal, Organists' Review, and was listed as one of the "best of 2002" in the Goldberg Early Music Magazine.
ABOUT THE INSTRUMENT
The organ at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield , Illinois, USA, was built by John Brombaugh & Associates of Eugene, Oregon, USA and was completed in June 2004 as its maker's Op.35.
(Abbreviations used in the description of registrations stand to the right of the stop pitches. * = manual stop transmitting to pedal, + = bass pipes common with the other stops.
|GREAT - MANUAL II||RUCKPOSITIVE - MANUAL I||SWELL - MANUAL III|
Viola da Gamba
Vox Celeste (tc)
|(descant, includes Holpipe 8)||Sesquialter||II||Ses||Scharff||III||Sch|
|(based on Alkmaar Bovenwerk Hautbois)||(based on drawing by Michael Prætorius)||(based on Haarlem Bovenwerk Vox Humana)|
|Subbass (wood)||16 +||Sb16||Swell-Great||S/G|
|Contra Posaune||32||CPs32||Tremulant, adjustable||Trem|
|C-B wood, rest from Posaune 16)|
Keyboard compasses: Manuals, 56 notes: C-g'"; Pedal, 30 notes: C-f', flat.
Mechanical key action is suspended throughout, with no assists. Stop action is electric with adjustable solid state combination system. The Swell louvers are operated mechanically, with no assistance.
The keydesk is attached with bench at level three steps above gallery main floor level. The Ruckpositive is located at front of gallery, providing enough room for choir and small orchestra; the main case is almost against the rear wall of the church nave under the Tiffany "Dove" window which governed the design of that case.
The metal flue pipes are made from finest lead/tin and copper alloys, hammered and voiced for a vocale sound. The front pipes, flutes and metal reed alloys are 98% lead, 1%+ tin with a bit of antimony, copper and bismuth; the small plenum pipes are 23% tin with rest of lead; the Viola da Gamba treble is of high tin. Poplar and Douglas Fir are used for wood pipes. All small metal flue pipes are cone tuned; the stopped metal pipes have soldered hats; the reeds are easilty tunable by organist. The organ has a total of 3250 pipes disposed on 49 registers comprised of 70 ranks.
The wind system has a wedge bellows and electric blower for stable, yet flexible winding at a pressure of 76 mm (ca. 3") water column to all pipes except the Contra Posaune 32' which is on 110 mm. The organ has no concussion bellows or other stabilizing devices.
The organ is tuned in Herbert Anton Kellner's "Bach," a mild unequal temperament suited to music of all periods. Pitch is set to be equivalent to 440 Hz for a' on Equal Temperament at -20°C or -68°F.
REGISTRATIONS USED IN THIS RECORDING
GT = Great; RP = Ruckpositive; SW = Swell; PD = Pedal
See previous Disposition for stop names abbreviated here.
Trio Sonata No.4 in E minor, BWV 528
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
The Six "Schübler" Chorales
Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540
Trio Sonata No.3 in D minor, BWV 527
Pastorella in F major, BWV 590
Five Chorale Preludes from the "Great Eighteen"
Pièce d'Orgue, BWV 572