Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
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

Julia Brown (Organ)

“Bach Organ Favorites” from Julia Brown

1

Selected Organ Works

Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Concerto in A minor, BWV 593
Piece d'orgue, BWV 572
Fugue in G minor, BWV 578
Prelude & Fugue in B minor, BWV 544
"Watchet auf, ruft uns die Stimme", BWV 645
Toccata & Fugue in F major, BWV 540

Julia Brown (Organ; Christ Episcopal Cathedral, Indianapolis)

Amadis

May 1994

CD / TT: 75:31

Donald Satz wrote (November 28, 2001):
Summary Rating: A (includes price consideration)

I can't quite remember why this Amadis disc was in my memory when I saw it at a local store for one-half the price of a Naxos CD. Probably, the artist Julia Brown stuck in my mind since she performs on one of the three organ discs of Scheidemann's organ music on Naxos. At any rate, the low price gave me the incentive to give the disc a trial run.

The disc is distributed by Naxos of America. It's quite possible that Naxos released the disc under its own name a few years ago, but it's just as likely that it never saw the light of day until issued under the Amadis label. The main thing is that it costs next to nothing.

The liner notes don't provide any information except for a description of each work on the program. Although the recording location is given, no information on the organ or Julia Brown is forthcoming. Whatever the specific organ, it sounds modern and fairly generic. A better organ would have lifted the rating to A+.

For this review, I first listened to some of my favorite versions of the works on the program: Gustav Leonhardt for BWV 565 and BWV 572, Karl Richter for the Concerto in A minor, Gabor Lehotka for the Fugue in G minor, and Lionel Rogg for the last three works on the program. That was a great listening experience, and following it up with about three hours of Julia Brown wasn't far behind at all.

Brown's program is stacked with powerful works, and she fully delivers the needed strength, majesty, and command of the life-force. Her tempos can be on the slow side, but she doesn't allow them to reduce the bite she applies to the music. The trait I most appreciate is a side-ways rhythm she often employs; it's distinctive, very appealing, and does no damage to forward momentum.

Two specifics I really love come from the Schubler Chorale BWV 645 and the Toccata & Fugue in F major. Brown's beginning to the F major is like being shot out of a cannon; it reminds me much of Rogg's performance. In the chorale, Brown is one of the few to reach a true balance between the two primary voices; it adds much to the conversational element.

Don's Conclusions: I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Julia Brown disc to a seasoned collector as well as the novice. That a recording of such high quality can be had for a mere pittance renews my faith that the captains of industry don't really know classical music or its audience. On a more positive note, I urge you to check out Ms. Brown. I obtained my copy at a local store usually having nothing I want; the disc is also available from CDNOW and likely other sites as well.

The supply of fine Bach organ recordings at low cost is a fine situation for collectors. With a primary emphasis on Wolfgang Rübsam for Naxos and some additional discs like the Brown recording, a Bach enthusiast can have all the organ works for less than the cost of four dinners at a fine restaurant.

And I wasn't even thinking of the complete sets which often run for less than ten dollars per disc. I don't know if the best things in life are free, but many of them are certainly economical.


Feedback to the above Review

Michael Cooper
wrote (November 30, 2001):
< Donald Satz wrote: The trait I most appreciate is a side-ways rhythm she often employs; it's distinctive, very appealing, and does no damage to forward momentum. >
What is "side-ways rhythm"?

Donald Satz wrote (November 30, 2001):
[To Michael Cooper] I thought someone might call me on this one, and I can't say I was looking forward to it.

In terms of feeling and pulse, it's a rhythm that 'potentially' can induce the listener to sway or gyrate from side-to-side. For myself, this is caused by the artist taking a step toward greater horizontal expressiveness but in a repetitive manner which gets caught up in and can dominate the music's rhythm. On organ, Wolfgang Rübsam frequently plays in this manner.

I can't explain it better than above, but I know it when I hear it. The effect is not always positive on me; sometimes, it damages the music's forward flow. When the flow isn't damaged, it's an added attraction.

Edson Tadeu Ortolan wrote (December 2, 2001):
The "side-ways rhythm" perception is for the fact of the research that Julia Brown developed about the interpretation of the Baroque Music and Bach in particular. This research is based in the notion that what is written in the score is a basic reference for the execution. Thus, for example, the interpreter can alter the ornamentation, the rhythmic detail, the speed and same to increase some expressivity (characteristics not always clear in the score of those times).

I compare with the Pop Music: here the interpreters - singers or instrumentists - have an original text (melody/lyric line, chords progression, regional rhythmic patterns and swing) and they make new arrangements for each show.

We should also remind that the Baroque Music was interpreted in the "romantic way" or in a "mechanical way". In the last 20/30 years a movement began (of the which Julia Brown is part) of to go to the Baroque original sources and to rethink the interpretation of these pieces in the encounter of more historical authenticity - or, at least, to try this possibility.

The current researchers believe that the Baroque composers had this freedom in mind. It is necessary to remind that Bach, Händel, Corelli, Vivaldi, Frescobaldi, Couperin, among others, was great masters of the improvisation.

There is a good book to begin understand: "Guide to ornamentation in Baroque Music" - H.M. Linde

PS: Here in Brazil we used the term "metrica relaxada" ("relaxed metrical" or "loose metrical") for these subtle and expressive alterations of the rhythm.

Britta Kotecha wrote (December 7, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] Can you please give me specific pieces which demonstrate this 'side-ways' rhythm most clearly?

Donald Satz wrote (December 9, 2001):
[To Britta Kotecha] No problem. It's very noticeable right from the start of the BWV 565 Fugue, particularly so with Julia Brown's performance. Other good examples are Bach's Fugue in G minor BWV 578 (first section), and the Prelude and Fugue BWV 544. Of course, its prevalence all depends on the interpretation, and Brown is one who maximizes the effect in a very muscular fashion.

Again, I do recommend Brown's disc very much. After reading Bitta's posting, I played the recording once more and continue to be impressed.

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýJanuary 17, 2003 ý15:11:15