on 20 November 2012
Before I start, I want to say I have been an avid classical organ music fan for years, (ever since first hearing Lionel Rogg's 1964 'Oryx' series as a student.) Therefore, in my time, I have heard MANY virtuoso performers & recordings.
However.. I have NEVER heard such a virtuoso as Karl Richter. He can TRULY be described as 'Great' - even in this over-bloated, over-hyped age.
I first heard him on the 'DG Archiv' label, presiding over the superb organ of Freiberg Cathedral (also on this collection as CD3.) I was MOST impressed - esp. (like Rogg) by an unhurried, unflappable, musical logic, as Richter steadily revealed Bach's Passacaglia variations in all their logical, sonic splendour. This was backed-up by DG's superlative sound quality, (a 1978 co-production with the DDR) and a Silbermann organ of the finest pedigree.
I then resolved "I must hear more": to find & collect his total number of Bach organ recordings, (sadly, Karl Richter never recorded the complete organ works of Bach: what a loss to the musical world!) However, 6 LP's he did record for DG* - of which 5 are featured here on the 3CD's. *The Bach/Vivaldi Organ Concertos are still separately available, played on the Silbermann at Arlesheim.
Most of these 3 CD's music features a 'modern' Marcussen organ. At first, I was a little apprehensive concerning the early sound of most of these recordings, (1964-67.) However, D-O-N-T be! The DG booklet says they have all been 'Original, image-bit, remastered'.. Wow, the engineers have achieved a truly exquisite, full-spectrum, crystal-clear sound!
Richter's method of organ playing, (he was trained 'Old School' in Dresden & Leipzig in the DDR) puts modernists to shame. Here is complete and utter clarity in all the different strands of sound emanating from his hands and feet. The chosen registers 'plate together' perfectly: e.g. Just listen to Richter's 'BWV 548' e-minor fugue, on the first CD. I have NEVER heard such playing; it is stunning - and it doesn't show-off an excess frivolity, or 'bend the melody', like some organists I can mention..
Look - enough: Just BUY this set - and enjoy!
on 6 February 2013
Bach has been with me since a young man of 16 - and I'm now pushing 60. I grew up with Richter performing the B Minor Mass and so on, but never had a decent collection of him playing Bach organ music. I've tended to stay with Walcha having tried, but abandoned many of the newer organists. What is so wonderful about Richter is the passion he expresses through the music, and Bach was a passionate man. I really have very little appetite for the thin lipped performances by modern performers - short on passion and usually big on ego. This is a wonderful, and treasured addition to my Bach collection.