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Martin Lücker (Organ)

“Scales from Weimar”


Edition Bachakademie Vol. 91: Organ Works - Scales from Weimar

Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 553 [3:00, 1:32]
Prelude & Fugue in D minor, BWV 554 [1:59, 1:57]
Prelude & Fugue in E minor, BWV 555 [2:22, 3:53]
Prelude & Fugue in F major, BWV 556 [1:33, 1:54]
Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV 557 [1:46, 2:30]
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 558 [1:47, 2:45]
Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 559 [1:42, 1:58]
Prelude & Fugue in B flat major, BWV 560 [1:57, 2:19]
Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C major, BWV 564 [6:19, 5:19, 5:12]
Fugue on a theme by Corelli in B minor, BWV 579 [5:57]

Martin Lücker (Organ) [Rieger Organ]


Jun 14-17, 1999

CD / TT: 61:48

Recorded at Katharinenkirche, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
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Donald Satz wrote (October 26, 2001):
I should clear up some confusion about the title of the disc, "Scales from Weimar". Are these Bach's scales or not? That's debatable concering the Eight Little Preludes & Fugues. Once thought to have been written by Bach, the current thinking is that Johann Tobias Krebs or his son, Johann Ludwig, composed the eight pieces. I'm of the mind that there might have been at least some collaboration on Bach's part. As an example, I feel that BWV 553 has the stamp of Bach on it as to flow, phrasing, and majesty. The pure joy of the Prelude without sounding ostentatious is very much a Bach quality as is the brilliant ceremony of the Fugue. Overall, these are great pieces of music no matter who wrote them.

Martin Lücker is another of the 'strong, muscular, and vital' organists that Hänssler used for its complete cycle of Bach works. Lucker does not disappoint; he's an absolute warrior who mows down all opposition. At the same time, Lucker can be as tender, sad, and joyous as any artist on record. He handles the "Little" Fugues with an exceptional mix of muscularity and poignancy; although Kevin Bowyer's performances are mighty fine, Lucker is on a different plane entirely. Superior performances continue with the Fugue in B minor and the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major. Lucker's glorious C major Fugue is a tremendous way to finish off the program.

Anyone wanting a good idea of my musical preferences need only listen to this Lucker recording. He continuously rises to the top, and I consider him one of the finest Bach performing artists of our time.

For BWV 553-560, I compared Lucker's readings to the ones by Kevin Bowyer on Nimbus 5377:

Kevin Bowyer's performance of BWV 553 is excellent, but Lucker brings the extra dimensions of angularity, detail, and supreme majesty to the table. This is most evident in the Fugue where Lucker's blend of ceremony and poetry is exceptional. In BWV 554, Lucker continues dealing from greater strength and bite than Bowyer; also, Lucker is much slower in the Prelude than Bowyer who sounds rushed.

BWV 555 is a lament of suffering. The Prelude is slow and beautifully melancholy with radiant passages of hope; the Fugue quickens the pace and heightens the severity. Tempo differentials between Lucker and Bowyer are on the extreme end; Bowyer takes under four minutes while Lucker extends to over six minutes. In the Prelude, both convey abundant suffering and capture all the beauty of the music. Lucker's Fugue is the slowest I've ever heard; he intensifies the suffering of the Prelude and turns it into a magical work of darkness. Although Bowyer performs the Fugue excellently with fine energy, he can't compare with Lucker's distinctiveness.

BWV 556 turns us around to cheerful music in the Prelude and joyous activities in the Fugue. Lucker dismisses his power and provides a delightfully light touch in both prelude and fugue. Bowyer is less distinctive and can't match the happiness Lucker conveys in the Prelude.

Lucker returns to power and angularity in BWV 557 in G major with superb results: I've never heard such a magnificently stunning G major Prelude before. Negative emotions, although less pervasive than in BWV 555, are prevalent in BWV 558. Lucker generally holds his muscularity in check and concentrates on poignancy to the listener's advantage; the performance is excellent. In comparison, Bowyer is a little mushy in the Prelude and perfumed in the Fugue.

For both BWV 559 & 560, Lucker continues with a fine degree of poetry and all the muscularity one could possibly want. His BWV 560 is a force of nature with the magnitude of a category-four hurricane. Bowyer can't possibly compete with this fury.

Fugue in B minor, BWV 579 - This work is based on a theme from Corelli; however, Bach turns Corelli's energetic allegro into a densely woven piece of great stature and intense emotions. Lionel Rogg, as expected, gives a excellent performance with little angularity. Gerhard Weinberger is abundantly angular, but he falls apart when it comes to stature or conveying the music's beauty. Martin Lücker delivers the 'total package', possessing the strength, sharpness, beauty, and intensity required.

Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 - One of Bach's greatest works for organ, Lucker provides a powerful and memorable performance the best of its type. His Fugue is pure magic as he invests the music with a strength and majesty that has to be heard.

Don's Conclusion: Don't let the spurious "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues" turn you off to the Lucker disc. The music is fabulous, and Lucker's performances are superb. Also, Lucker lets us know that he much more than holds his ground in Bach's most rewarding works such as BWV 564. This disc is essential and alternately glows and growls with the juices of life. Not for the faint-of-heart, Lucker will take you on a majestic journey full of adventure and deep emotional impact. I'll soon be reviewing another Bach/Hänssler disc from Lucker titled "Late Works from Leipzig" and can hardly wait to sink my teeth into that one.


Complete Bach's Organ Works on Hänssler: Recordings
Short Biographies:
Bine Katrine Bryndorf | Pieter van Dijk | Kay Johannsen | Martin Lücker | Andrea Marcon | Wolfgang Zerer
Early Bach Organ Works from Andrea Marcon (A. Marcon) | “Scales from Weimar” (M. Lücker) | Five Recordings of Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (W. Zerer) | Bach Organ Transcriptions from Pieter van Dijk (P.v. Dijk) | Three Recent Recordings of Bach's Leipzig Chorales: Part 1 | Part 2 (B.K. Bryndorf) | “Late Organ Works from the Leipzig Period” (M. Lücker) | Bach’s Trio Sonatas for Organ from Johannsen and Lippincott (K. Johannsen) | Bach Great Organ Mass by Kay Johannssen (K. Johannsen)

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


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