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Toccatas BWV 910-916
Played by Bob van Asperen (Harpsichord)


Bob van Asperen: Harpsichord Recital

Toccata No. 3 in D major, BWV 912 [10:21]

Bob van Asperen (Harpsichord)

EMI Classics

Apr 1989

CD / TT: 58:59

Recorded at Bennebroek, Holland. 1st recording of Toccata No. 3 BWV 912 by B.v. Asperen.
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Bach: Toccatas BWV 910-916

Toccatas BWV 910-916 [10:17, 10:03, 10:46, 12:37, 6:04, 8:22, 7:59]

Bob van Asperen (Harpsichord)


Mar-Apr 1999

CD / TT: 66:08

Recorded at Schloß Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany. 2nd recording of Toccata No. 3 BWV 912 by B.v. Asperen.
Buy this album at: | [Box Set] | [Box Set]

van Asperen in Bach toccatas

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 10, 2001):
Jim Morrison wrote:
< Van Asperen on Teldec (LC 6019, I think)
By the way, van Asperen's disc has a total of 30 tracks with a length of 66 minutes, while Watchorn has 29 tracks coming in at 77 minutes. I wonder what's up with the eleven minutes difference, which is the length of a few of the shorter toccatas? I'm not really familiar with either recording. Could van Asperen be omitting some repeats, or playing at a much faster tempo? >
I haven't heard van Asperen's Teldec set, but I have his EMI disc 54081 from 1991. He gets through all seven toccatas in 67'07", and there is one track per toccata. There are no repeats to be omitted or taken in these pieces. He just plays briskly.

Some comparisons: Parmentier 68'12", Rubsam 77'53", Gould 80'50".

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 10, 2001):
Forgot to mention: van Asperen's EMI set of the toccatas (recorded 1990) uses the 1728 Zell. The sound is so close and bright, and van Asperen's touch so hot, sometimes it seems sparks are flying out of the speakers. Some keyboard noise is picked up, too. These are performances to get the listener's adrenaline running.

Jim Morrison wrote (July 10, 2001):
[To Bradley Lehman] What, no repeats in the Toccatas? My goodness, what makes them seem so long then?

Joking aside, I don't listen to them very much. They've never really resonated with me. I had no idea if there were or were not passages to be repeated in them. Isn't this odd for Bach's harpsichord works, the lack of repeats. English Suites, French Suites, Goldbergs, Partitas, they all have them repeats. What's up with the Toccatas? Is this a common trait in the organ works?

Didn't Gould knock off some time from one of the Toccatas by omitting a long run of sequences? Is he the only performer to do that? Or might others have done it?

PS: Leonhardt's set is also recorded at a high volume and intensity level. Is van Asperen's even higher than his?

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 10, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] I compared the Leonhardt and van Asperen D major toccatas back to back just now, both playing the 1728 Zell. The miking seems closer on BvA, plus the volume is much louder. The middle F# key clicks all over the place for BvA but not for GL (14 years earlier). It sounds as if BvA is in a more resonant room. BvA plays with more drive, but I prefer GL's sense of the space...both the space in the room and the space within the music: the performance breathes more. GL takes 11'21" to BvA's 10'44".

Offhand I can't think of anybody else who has recorded the f# minor toccata with 14 bars hacked out of it, other than Gould...but that cut is the least of the problems in his performance. I won't belabor that here as I've already written it at:

As for repeats: depends on the form of a piece. The WTC and the inventions/sinfonias don't have many repeats, either.

Jim Morrison wrote (July 11, 2001):
Just wanted to give a recommendation for the Leonhardt discs that Brad and I have been talking about: SEON SB2K 60375: two disc at @ 105 minutes long. Pieces include t Italian Concerto, the toccatas in D major (912) and D minor (913), chromatic fantasy and fugue, as well as two special treats, a suite in E-flat major arranged by Leonhardt after the Fourth Cello Suite (1010) and a Suite in C minor, again arranged by Leonhardt from the Lute Suite in G minor (995) The funny thing about this last work is that the lute suite is an arrangement by Bach of his Fifth Cello Suite (1011) Those of you with good musical skills may find it interesting to hear how the work is transformed via those two arrangements. I wish I had the knowledge to appreciate it.

And concerning the lack or inclusion of repeats in Bach's keyboard music, Brad seemed less impressed than me with the fact that some of the more "public" mature compositions have repeats: the French and English Suites, the Partitas, the Goldberg Variations, while some of the more private/pedagogical ones: the WTC and the Inventions and Sinfonias, lack them. I think there must be something significant here, something about how Bach's mind worked when he was writing "popular" music and when he was writing music for more private use.

It seems even worth considering to me whether Bach thought repeats more appropriate for harpsichord music, than for music that he knew would be played on smaller instruments like the clavichord, spinet, or the virginal. Aren't the above mentioned works with repeats generally thought of as being written with the harpsichord in mind, while the others lacking repeats were a bit more abstractly written for keyboard?

Also, how many pieces of Bach's keyboard works not for organ and over eight minutes long lack repeats? Is it merely a coincidence that as he matured his longer works gained repeats, while his shorter ones continued to lack them?

Furthermore, some people think these toccatas were written for organ, not for the harpsichord. Could the lack of repeats in the toccatas be a piece of evidence in favor of that view.

Jim (who's puzzling these things out as he writes and hopes some one with more knowledge has an opinion)

Jodie Mistrial wrote (July 13, 2001):
Jim Morrison wrote: < SEON SB2K 60375: >
Please excuse my virginal state, I am new to this list. I assume that the letters and numbers stand for something. Can somebody please explain the meaning of each of these symbols. Thank you very much.

Jim Morrison wrote (July 13, 2001):
Jodie wrote in saying "Please excuse my virginal state..."
to which my mind immediately went "hmm, wonder what's wrong with the person's keyboard."

boy I really have had too much Bach-on-the-brain lately. Surely some part of my life must be collapsing around me and I'm just too involved with music to notice. :-)

Concerning your question, SEON use to be an active early music label in the 70's, perhaps Brad or someone else could write more in on them. They are long gone now though. Sony owns the rights to their records at the moment, and they've been re-releasing them under the old SEON name. SB2K 60375 is the catalog number of the disc I was talking about. Disks actually. The 2 in the SB2K indicates that it's a double disk set. Not long discs though, a little over 50 minutes eac. A bit like those doulbe Virgin Classics sets in that way.

I think that Leonhardt set is well worth having. Liner notes are sparse, but the music is fine. I'm a big fan of his Italian Concerto and the slow movements inside those dog-gone toccatas, that I, like Kirk, have a tough time appreciating. Those Leonhardt arrangements sound a little bit odd and not quite Bach (and why wouldn't they, after all, he's taking Bach's music for cello and lute and turning it into keyboard music) but are worth having as well.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 13, 2001):
[To Jodie Mistrial] SEON is the label, and what follows is the catalogue number.


Toccatas BWV 910-916: Details
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019
K Bowyer - Vol. 13 | Toccatas - A. Hewitt | Toccatas - E. Parmentier | Toccatas - P. Watchorn & R. Troeger
General Discussions - Part 1 | Toccatas - B.v. Asperen

Bob van Asperen: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias | A Terrific Trio of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Toccatas BWV 910-916 - played by Bob van Asperen

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
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Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


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