I really must leave feedback on this wonderful set of discs. Over the years I have been repeatedly disappointed by CDs of Bach organ music but at last my search has been successful.
First of all, the performer. Marie Claire Alain is just so reliable. She seems self effacing in her performances. I simply am not really conscious of her 'interpreting' the music or playing 'brilliantly'. To me, she is playing the music as Bach intended. Full stop.
Added to this is a wonderful combination of organ and recording quality. So many organ recordings are spoilt for me by too close microphones. Here, the recording engineer keeps everything beautifully balanced from the highest to the lowest frequencies and perfect clarity is accompanied by the proper perspective of a large church organ.
Here is nearly 20 hours of the greatest music at a bargain price. Not to be missed by any Bach lover.
Just thought I'd put a good word in for this set performed by Marie Claire Alain on Erato. At under £20 it's a bargain for a complete set of Bach's organ works which is very well perfomed and recorded. Alain is well known for using a variety of different registrations and has achieved this to great effect in this set. I've also got the Hurford complete set on London which is also excellent and can also be recommended. This is the second version produced by Alain of Bach's complete organ works and was recorded from 1978 to 1980 on non-baroque organs in France, Denmark and Switzerland. The recorded sound of this set is very good considering it's all analog but has been digitally re-mastered. Her latest (third) set - also on Erato - has been performed on baroque instruments. I haven't heard this set yet but I've read good reviews of her performances. I'd like to recommended this great value set for its excellent performances of Bach's organ masterpieces.
If you want Bach played as Bach would have played it, i.e. small Baroque organs with period registration, then hit the back button and find Walcha, Koopman, Richter etc.
If, however, you want a more modern interpretation of the greatest organ works written then this bargain box set will suit you. Recorded in the late 70s/early 80s the great French organist here gives you her second (out of 3) surveys of the Bach organ works.
The registrations in the Chorale preludes will probably suit the ear better than the Preludes, Toccatas and Fugues but overall this is a good set.
With the Hurford det now deleted/overpriced depending on the merchant then this is the modern Bach organ set to go for.
I enjoy this collection for the quality of recorded sound and trust the artist regarding Bach (ref her comments on the DVD, Organs, Toccatas and Fantasias). She uses very deep pedal registrations on many of the chorale preludes, and this adds to the enjoyment when the reproduction equipment is adequate. Another collection with such bass is the mono (Document --10 CD's) set of Helmut Walcha. I plan to explore her 3rd Bach set and also the 1st, if available.
This is God in a Box... Bach's organ music is the heart of his output. Alain's playing is incredible. Most recordings of these organ works are by men and so I see Alain's interpretation of these pieces as the other side of Bach. Not to say that the requisite masculinity which marks all of Bach's work is not here, it is, but there is also a more feminine aspect veiled which produces a wonderfully balanced account of these timeless pieces. She knows when to yield to the effects and knows when to play ferociously too. Subtle, tender, powerful and clear, the sounds range from the bold and dazzling to some peculiarly squeaking sounding organs which bring about a delight and novelty seldom heard. Alain's Orgelbulchein was vastly different to one by Bohme for example. Generally, her playing allows this music to soar, articulating the heights as well as the lower chambers masterfully. A great selection of different organs from Europe, especially France and Switzerland.
The feeling I was left with after this recording was one of sadness, for Bach, as Alain has successfully captured what it means to go be so great so as to be alone. A truly moving experience. A beautiful tribute to the greatest composer who ever lived.
I bought this last year on the recommendation of a friend. It is my second Bach Organ Integral, and years ago I bought the mono set from Helmut Walcha on the recommendation of the same friend.
The Walcha is a wonderful and somewhat incomplete set, and it is lovely to discover new gems in this cycle from Alain.
She is poetic compared to Walcha, but both sets are involving to the highest degree, and if forced to choose now would suggest Alain as the recommendation for a first recording, and follow it up with the old Walcha set later on if someone wants two different recordings.
The recordings are lucid and clear, which is very important for the counterpoint to be followed with ease, so that Alain's poetic musical readings are beautifully presented. And so for once wonderful music making is presented as well as the music is played.
I cannot think of one weak link in these performances, but a high point is the Leipzig Chorale Preludes, and another is the Schubler ones as well. After the very direct way of playing that Walcha presents the music with [my friend described it aptly as Mondrianesque], I found MC Alain delightfully more flexible, though never at the sense of rhythm or pulse, and really both sets bring out the wonderment in it at a very human level. I was considering getting the later Walcha [stereo] set, but because of the Alain set, I simple bought Walcha's recording of the Art Of Fugue. Later I was given the LPs of Alain's recording of that from the early 1970s, and this is another pinnacle of Bach Organ music performance in my view.
Anyone who loves Bach's music should snap up this Alain set in my view.
Beautiful music played most beuatifully on an amazing high quality set of CD's. The organ and the acoustics of the Cathedrals are superb for recording Bach's organ music and at an unbelievably good price. I recommend this box set to anyone who loves organ music.