It is currently Wed Jun 19, 2024 8:45 am


Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

Playing or learning the organ, hints, tips and tricks, registrations, techniques, fingerings, ...
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

larason2

Member

  • Posts: 777
  • Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:32 pm

Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

PostMon Jun 28, 2021 2:45 pm

Recently I have been learning Bach's first trio sonata. I own and am very pleased with Marie-Claire Alain's third recording of the complete Bach (1986). The instrument I have been using is the St. Georgenkirche Rotha, which I believe is the exact instrument she used for the Trio sonatas, and I think it is a very good match! In an online interview with her I read, she said that for Bach's middle period, she chose several Schnitger organs in the Netherlands, and for his final period, she chose the Treutmann organ in Goslar.

After some research, I narrowed down which Schnitger organs she may have used to Alkmaar and Groningen (which were recently restored at the time of her recording), as well as Zwolle, which was restored in the 50's, but still is said to represent a very authentic sound. I have listened to some of the recordings of Alkmaar online, and I do think it sounds very similar to many of her recordings. I'm not sure about Groningen. While it does sound very fine, and many of the more "wet" postings on contrebombarde remind me of the original recordings, I don't feel it hits on the exact sound perfectly! Zwolle, however, appears to be a good fit as well for certain pieces. However, I think it is recorded a bit drier than Marie-Claire Alain's versions. Does anyone have any other information about what organs she may have used?

The final one, however, is tricky to find a substitute. There are no Treutmann organs sampled for Hauptwerk that I know of. Marie-Claire Alain says that she chose this organ because it had a "darker" sound. Does anyone know of a baroque organ that has been sampled for Hauptwerk that is "Darker"? I feel that OAM's Trost has a bit darker sound, but it is not a perfect match, and I feel it is also quite a bit drier than Marie-Claire Alain's recordings. Thanks!
Offline
User avatar

JulianMoney-Kyrle

Member

  • Posts: 390
  • Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:23 pm
  • Location: Calne, Wiltshire, UK

Re: Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

PostTue Jun 29, 2021 7:25 pm

I have the Erato set of the third recording of Marie-Claire Alain's complete Bach cycle. I seem to remember that in the booklet that came with the CD's the organ used for each recording is listed, together with the stoplist, but also the registration (and changes) used for every piece. I have ripped all my CD's to FLAC files which I keep on a network server in the house with a second copy on a hard drive in the car and a third copy as a back-up, so the original CD's are in boxes in a corner of the house and not readily accessible, therefore I can't immediately check.

However, I have also set up playlists on my Sonos system for all the recordings I have (or can readily stream) of organs available on HW, plus quite a few historic ones that aren't. On it are Alain's recordings of the Trio Sonatas, and she is using the Arp Schnitger organ at the Aa Kerk, Groningen.

I have far too many recordings of the complete Bach organ works (or maybe not enough), and I have played them all through quite a few times. I love Alain's playing, and I would be very interested some time to hear her earlier recordings for comparison. I quite like Ton Koopman,also on historic instruments, though his playing is rather eccentric, but my favourite is Peter Hurford, despite most of the performances being on fairly recent Organ Reform-type instruments. They are just so musical and full of joy. I have recently come across David Goode's new recordings on the Metzler organ at Trinity College, Cambridge (where I was an undergraduate, though sadly I didn't pay much attention to the organ while I was there), and I have thoroughly enjoyed those, too. On the back of that I bought the Poblet sampleset by OAM which is also a Metzler organ, and while it has been recorded slightly too wet for my taste it is nevertheless beautifully voiced and one of my favourites. I also have Helmut Walcha's old mono set, which I can't say made a huge impression on me, and Walter Kraft, who is impressive in the big pieces, but his chorale preludes are so pedestrian that it sounds as though he is sight-reading them. The first set I bought, while I was still at school, was Lionel Rogg, but these are all on LP's, and although I still have a system for playing them, they are all in the attic so I haven't listened to them for so long that I can't remember how they compare; as far as I know they haven't been reissued on CD's.

I have also come across a web site with complete Bach recordings by James Kibble on historic instruments (including Rotha). I don't know who he is (I think an American academic of some kind) but they are all there to download free of charge and are well worth listening to. Werner Jacob's complete Bach set also uses a number of interesting historic organs, and his recording of the Toccata and Fugue in F on the Muller instrument at St. Bavokerk, Haarlem, is thrilling, not least for the sound of the instrument.

In case anybody is interested, these are the HW organs that I currently have on my playlists. I am only listing the CD sets, not piece by piece which would take far too long. I would love to know of any more, and particularly if anybody else has done something similar:

Arlesheim (J A Silbermann) OAM - Complete Bach organ works, Werner Jacob and Marie-Claire Alain
Bovenkerk Kampen (Hinz) MDA - Werner Jacob, complete Bach; Jacques van Oortmersson, complete Bach vol. 4
Georgenkirche Rotha (Gottfried Silbermann) MDA - Werner Jacob, Marie-Claire Alain, James Kibble
Grosshartmansdorf (Gottfried Silbermann) Pipeloops - Werner Jacob, complete Bach
Ottoberuren (Riepp) OAM - Ton Koopman, Walter Kraft complete Bach; Ulrich Bohme, Art of Fugue
Marienkirche, Rotha (Gottfried Silbermann) MDA - James Kibble
St Peter & St Paul, Cappel (Arp Schnitger) MDA - Werner Jacob complete Bach
Stade (Hus, Arp Schnitger) OAM - Walter Kraft, James Kibble
Steinkirche (Arp Schnitger) OAM - Werner Jacob, complete Bach
Dorpskerk, Noordbroek (A Schnitger) Sonus Paradisi - Gwendolyn Toth "The Arp Schnitger Organ in Noordbroek" various composers
Petrikerche Freiberg (Gottfried Silbermann) Sonus Paradisi - Alexander Koschel "G. Silbermann Orgel, Petrikirche in Freiberg" various composers
Poblet (Metzler) OAM - Christopher Herrick "The Power of Life" various, Juan de la Rubia "Bach" (I think that is the name of the album)
St Bavo, Haarlem (Christian Muller) Voxus - Piet Kee (from 10-disc set "Famous Dutch Organs"), also quite a lot of other albums on Spotify (?) various; Werner Jacob, M-C Alain, Walter Kraft, complete Bach, Jacques van Oortmersson, Bach vol 10, also "Live at St. Bavo" (Bach and Mozart), Albums by Evan Bogard and Tolouse, I can't read the titles on the thumbnails
St Martinikerk, Groningen - Ton Koopman, M-C Alain, Walter Kraft, complete Bach, Wim van Beek from "Famous Dutch Organs"
St Michaels Grote Kerk, Zwolle (A and FC Schnitger) Sonus Paradisi - Werner Jacob, complete Bach, Wouter van den Broek, from "Famous Dutch Organs", Lucas Lindeboom (can't read the title on the thumbnail - various composers)
St Walpurgisker, Zutphen (Hans Heinrich Bader) Sonus Paradisi - Ton Koopman, complete Bach; Klaas Stok, various Bach (can't read the name of the album)
Velosovo (Morcnik) Sonus Paradisi - Carson Cooman "A Marvellous Love - new music for organ"
Vollenhove (Bosch-Schnitger) OAM - Bram Beekman "Johann Sebastian Bach"

Just in the last couple of days I have been playing Krszeszow, which is quite different from any of the other HW organs that I have - quite a large acoustic, but also rather unusual starting transients on many of the pipes and prominent fifths on many of the stops, quite vicious mixtures, some of them with thirds, the variety of tones available at 8' and 16' pitch that Bach is said to have loved, strings and two celeste stops. Most of the stops sound rather different from how I expected them to, though I have ended up with some effective if unusual registrations. I would love to know if there are any CD's of this organ. It must have been very expensive to restore it in 2008 and I would be surprised if nobody has recorded it. There are some YouTube videos demonstrating it but they are all in Polish.

According to my Sonos playlist, the Treutman organ that Alain used is the one at Stiftskirche, Goslar Grauhoff, in case you don't already have that information. I'm not sure what you mean by a darker sound, and I will have to listen to those recordings again. The various Schnitger and Silbermann organs on HW are all quite bright, as is the Muller organ at St. Bavokerk, Haarlem. Krszeszow is darker, until you add the mixtures which are quite fierce. Velosovo (a modern "Bach" organ) is voiced quite gently, and Poblet (also built as a Bach organ) has a very smooth and seductive tone with everything blending well, and great tonal variety. Trost is quite a different sound and conception from Schnitger and Silbermann, and so is Zutphen (from Sonus Paradisi), which is quite an old organ, though another one I enjoy playing. Trost is supposedly more authentic as a Bach organ as he is supposed to have approved of Henry Trost's instruments. All of these (old and new) have in common lots of different 16' voices in the pedal, along with a 32', 16' in the manuals, a variety of 8' in the manuals, including strings, and plenty of mutations including the option of having mixtures with thirds.
Offline

mnailor

Member

  • Posts: 1634
  • Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:57 pm
  • Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

PostTue Jun 29, 2021 8:12 pm

Offline

larason2

Member

  • Posts: 777
  • Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:32 pm

Re: Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

PostTue Jun 29, 2021 8:39 pm

Thanks Julian, that is very useful! Here is the interview with Marie-Claire Alain that I was referencing:

https://www.theorganmag.com/articles/alain.html

By dark, what I understand that to mean is many of the stops have a more "mellow" character on the "mellow vs bright" spectrum. This is usually characterized by broader peaks on the frequency vs. amplitude graph (that is a fourier transform of the sound wave), and a predominance of harmonics (which means the stops are generally "stringier" or "reedier"). Both Silbermann and Schnitger have narrow peaks at the harmonics, and have more "pure" flute sound with less other harmonics produced by the pipes. I bought Marie-Claire Alain's recordings as a download, so did not have access to the liner notes. I would love to have them, I wonder if they are available elsewhere? When I was researching to buy her set, I listened to other Bach recordings available on iTunes, but I found many of them over registered, and with not as much sensitivity and without her excellent phrasing. I'll have to check out some of the other ones you suggested.

I quite like the Trost organ, and I'm not aware of any other ones that are "dark" like it is, and the Treutmann organs are. Like you, I also quite like the Krzeszow organ in Poland, and I don't know of any other Salesian baroque organs like it. I agree with you the demos are quite lovely, and I quite like the aggressive mixtures, as well as the forward thinking inclusion of strings and colour reeds. Maybe someday I will be able to afford it! Thanks MNailor for the link to Carson Cooman's CD. I quite like his music, and I like how he often chooses smaller organs to record on.

The one organ I recently afforded that I quite like is Tihany from AVO. The price is quite reasonable, and I think it is quite a lovely recording, and very appropriate for Bach. I like it for the first trio sonata, but I still like the Rotha St. Georgenkirche the best. I think the PrincipalBass 16 for the St. Georgenkirche is perfect for the bass line. However, for many of Bach's other works, I like Tihany the best. It has 3 recording positions, so it is not hard to find one you like.
Offline
User avatar

JulianMoney-Kyrle

Member

  • Posts: 390
  • Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:23 pm
  • Location: Calne, Wiltshire, UK

Re: Channeling Marie-Claire Alain

PostWed Jun 30, 2021 8:24 am

Larason2,
You may be interested in this Web site, which has a huge amount of information about Bach and his music, including a comprehensive discography. This is the link to Marie-Claire Alain’s entry, from which you can follow links to get details of her recordings and the organs used. There is similar information about dozens of other recordings of his complete works.

Often if you buy and download an album you can download the booklet as well. Of course that doesn’t apply to streaming services.

Mike,
Thank-you. I know presto music so I will buy and download this from them.

Return to Performance practice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests