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Complete Works For Organ (Alain) Box set

3 customer reviews

Price: £134.37
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Product details

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (13 Oct. 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 14
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000005ECW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,790 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. SA NOGUEIRA SARAIVA on 2 Mar. 2010
This is Alain's mature version of Bach. She had previously recorded the complete Bach works twice. This version was, according to herself, determined by the availability of historical organs contemporary with Bach. Those organs are not as easily played as the moderns 'baroque' instruments and must be played more slowly. Also, many of the historical organs are not as well kept as would be desirable.
Even so, Marie Claire Alain shows complete mastery of this music. She manages to blend melody and harmony perfectly and both counterpoint and expressive emotion are perfectly rendered. This is true about preludes and fugues but also of chorales and triosonatas: everything is natural, music flows, subtly expressed.
As has been said in the press, Alain manages not to impose her personality upon the music: she just plays and expresses what the music is meant to express. All phrases are natural, all tempo shifts are suggested by the score. A perfect achievement.
The organs are also very interesting. You will find instruments by G. Silbermann, A. and F.C. Schnitger, Chr. Müller, an impressive Treutmann (formidable 32' posaunenbass) and also, for the concerts, a modern Kern.
For anyone seriously interested in Bach's organ music this is a must have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheese Messiah on 18 Nov. 2008
Alain excels in the large scale pieces. She has full command of Bach's big rhetorical works and their musical logic. She gives muscular readings of his preludes and fugues, IE her performance of the b minor prelude and fugue is the best I've heard.
Less impressive are her treatment of the chorales which, as stated by another review, is unimaginative. She seems to use the same registration for everything.
Even so, she has a good sense of rhythmical drive, and these performances do not slouch.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger King on 22 Sept. 2008
A mystifying product, largely devoid of the charm, delicacy, power and momentum that one ordinarily associates with Bach's organ music. Erratic timing, lifeless registration and clattering pedals make this collection unlistenable. Go to Hurford or Preston instead.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This is the one to have. 8 Sept. 1999
By Mark Willey - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is the third complete cycle of the works of Bach that Marie-Claire Alain has recorded. In the hands of many other artists, that might seem redundant, but she clearly has something new to say.
Each piece is played with life and inspiration. The organs and the spaces they are in are gorgeous. The organs are all Baroque instruments, some that Bach may have played and others that are wonderful copies of period instruments. The recording is clean and captures, as much as possible, the feeling of listening to the music in the space.
As a teaching or resource tool, this cycle is invaluable. The booklet with each CD includes a description, in French, German and English, of each piece along with the registration that was used. The pieces are easy to find and organized to make listening to a whole CD a delight.
Though it doesn't affect the sound quality of the recordings, the packaging is amazing with different, artistic photos of the organs that are played printed on the CDs themselves and on the booklets.
I love the way Marie-Claire Alain plays just about everything. She strikes the perfect balance between rythmic integrity and musicality. Her registrations, articulations and interpretations are based in a depth of scholastic knowledge without sounding boring or pedantic.
I treasure this set and have never regretted making the purchase.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Monumental Artistry 7 Mar. 2003
By Avid Reader - Published on
Although I am partial to the Romantic Organ, particularly in the vein of Widor, Vierne and Rheinberger, it all begins with Bach. And in this case, one could say that it all begins with Marie-Claire Alain and her wonderful interpretations. Alain seems to understand that Bach was above all else a religious composer. Many "complete" works of Bach play short shrift with the liturgical works whereas these are some of the most satisfying of the group.
The sound is pure sonority, almost perfect, and the technical prowess is just awesome. Out of the millions of notes played, I never heard a miscue or slight jiggle. Still, keyboard wizardry is only part of the story. The registration is a work of art in itself. Alain understand the difference between the Baroque and the Modern, the French and the German and the old and the new. Just as she is a "natural" for Widor or Vierne, she also seems to have entered the Bach mind on some of these.
This is a fabulous collection worthy of any serious student of classical music. Nowhere can one derive such satisfaction that listenting to Bach played by Ms. Alain.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Not _the best_, but... 23 May 2001
By Douglas S. Halfen - Published on
...In this category, can a true "best" ever emerge? Having said that, I can honestly tell you that this set is magnificent, having owned and enjoyed it since 1997. My only quibbles are that (1) some of Alain's registrations, while at the very least "good," are upstaged in several places by other performers whom I have on recording, and that (2) the recorded sound gives plenty of room to the organs' tones - sometimes _too much_ room, a problem that is also present on Alain's _Art of Fugue_ set, with the result that contrapuntal clarity gets smothered in a sea of reverb in some places (mind you, the "cloud of sound" approach works well with Bach's music, but I prefer clarity). Alain's technique and tempi, on the other hand, are untouchable. The disc with the trio sonatas is particularly good!
I actually consider having multiple performances of Bach's music a must - my favorite set is Lionel Rogg's on Harmonia Mundi, but he is, by no means, definitive - and neither is Alain. They complement each other quite nicely!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
superb! 17 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Though there are quite a few complete organ works of Bach in the market already, Alain's recordings stand out as the best. 'The lady of the organ' not only shows her excellent technique, her interpretation is stimulating and interesting. To listen to Bach's organ works played on instruments of his time is most rewarding; some are organs in Eastern Germany in Bach's time including Silberman and Schnitger organs. A rare opportunity to hear some of them in one collection! The accompanying booklet of each CD is very informative - a lot of research work done obviously! This is surely an important collection for any Bach or organ fan!
48 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Bach on the Organ 23 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
What? Just 2 reviews?? I've had this set for close to 4 years. Where do I start..... To tell the story of Bach and the organ, I must start at the beginning. I harbor no pretext of being an authority at all, in fact I really didn't know Bach till a few years ago.
One day, I chanced to buy a CD with an assortment of classical music. I did that once every so often, since classical CD's are so cheap. I slipped it into my car not knowing at all what I'd just stumbled on. The second piece on this CD was music of an order I had not yet before encountered. To boot, I had just installed a new subwoofer in the car. Then this organ piece comes on.
My friends. From that moment, I was a different person. It didn't hit me as hard initially, but I couldn't let go of this stupendous work of such magnificence. For days on end, I would play this one piece of organ music. Treasuring it as a jewel. I couldn't get over how grand, how utterly wonderful this work was, from every single note to it's entire whole. I've always enjoyed music, but this was something else. It made me feel miniscule. How could anyone.... I'm a financial consultant, and gosh did this make me feel worthless. Alright, I'll let you know which it was --Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Dorian) for the organ. Not even one of Bach's major pieces. This was Miklos Spanyi on organ who did this. Marie-Claire does a good job on this set, but I had heard it first on the other recording, and you know it's never as good as the first time.
Brethren, this wasn't the end. After a few weeks of listening to this, I kid you not, I would break down like a child when I played it. Sobbing and crying. Weeping uncontrollably. I'm a grown man, but it happened. I could not understand. I could not remember breaking down this way, so violently, since I was young boy. I am not a sop at all, one of those guys with a soft feminine, no, no. This is what Bach can do to you.
I was listening to angels. I could see them. No way I'll write my full name here in case this gets out. If I listened to it in the car, I would have to stop when Bach's counterpoints started their agonizing attacks of sheer splendor. I would stop the car on the side of the road, racked in sobs. I stopped listening to it in the morning going to work because my eyes would be red when I got into the office. In oblivion, driving home one night I did get a speeding ticket.
I would be convulsing in anguish. As the Toccata builds to its end, Bach brings your pitiful soul through a wavy staircase lined with golden crescendos that don't seem to end. He then takes your wretched spirit, once strong, but piteous in the face of such perfection, and places it on the doorstep of the Fugue. At this grand entrance on the cadence, at this very point I would invariably be out of control, bawling like a babe.
It was then I needed to see who this Bach was. Then I see a complete set of Bach Organ Works by a renowned organist. I was trembling when I got the set. It's about 3 years now, and I have since learned how to control myself. I am sorry I talk about Bach's organ and his effect on me, but please, I was just describing one gem. This is the collection. Buy it and be immersed in wonder.
There is good literature that goes with the set. If you are looking for sentiment and give up a little bit of quality, you'll notice some difference. The recordings are excellent, but the idea of this grand project was to have it on a baroque organ, sounding like it would back then.
They do mention the need for the organist to have to coax and cajole the instrument, unlike the modern electronic machines. The recordings are on a restored organ, which at first made me a little disappointed, but after a while you realize it presents the organist's talent quite a bit more. I also love hearing the slight sounds of the stops in the background - just that added sense of needing to be on earth before reaching glory.
Thank you Alain
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