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

Karl Richter (Organ)

Famous Bach Organ Works from Karl Richter

S-2

J.S. Bach: Toccata & Fuge - Famous Organ Works

Toccata & Fugue in D minor ("Dorian"), BWV 538 [15:42]
Fantasia & Fugue in G minor ("Great"), BWV 542 [12:36]
Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 [8:56]
Concerto No. 2 in A minor (after Antonio Vivaldi), BWV 593 [11:42]
Concerto No. 4 in C major (after Duke Johann Ernst), BWV 595 [4:04]
Chorale Prelude Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 [5:51]
Chorale Prelude Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter, BWV 650 [3:38]

Karl Richter (Organ)

Deutsche Grammophon

1964-1980

CD / TT: 65:25

Buy this album at: Amazon.de | Amazon.de

Donald Satz wrote (May 29, 2001):
Deutsche Grammophon recently issued on its Eloquence label a Bach organ works disc performed by Karl Richter. These Richter performances span the period from 1964 to 1980 and three different organs:

1964 - Organ of the Jaegersborg Church, Copenhagen - Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 and Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542.

1967 - Organ of the Jaegersborg Church, Copenhagen - Chorale Preludes BWV 645 & 650.

1974 - Sibermann Organ, Arlesheim - Organ Concerto No. 4 in C major, BWV 595 and Organ Concerto No. 2 in A minor, BWV 593.

1980 - Great Sibermann Organ, Freiburg Cathedral - Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 "Dorian".

The catalog number is 469616 and total time is 65:25.

Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 - It's quite ironic that Bach's most famous organ composition may not be his at all. Current research is dubious of his authorship, although others feel that such a masterful piece of music from that time period must have come from Bach. I feel that Bach might have had a hand in it, but there's too much pure/immediate repetition to convince me that he was the sole author.

One of my standards for the D minor is Leonhardt's on Sony/Seon. The attacks are crisp and exciting, and Leonhardt's Fugue is the most interesting and impactful version I've heard. If any performance could make me feel that Bach wrote the D minor, it's Leonhardt's. In comparison, Richter often is rather reticent in the Fugue. In this regard, his performance reminds me of Kay Johannsen's on Hanssler. Both are fine readings, but the Fugue needs more weight and momentum to rival the best.

Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 - One of Bach's more popular organ works, it has a majesterial Fantasia second to none; there are also two passages of repose which provide a great contrast to the dense harmonies. The Fugue is based on falling thirds and leaping octaves, resulting in music of urgency and poignancy.

Richter's BWV 542 is an outstanding accomplishment. His Fantasia is mighty and incisive; the softer passages are stunning in their contrast. In the Fugue, Richter displays a wonderful rhythmic pulse which rivals the Herrick version which I love dearly.

Organ Concertos No. 2 in A minor after Vivaldi, BWV 593 and Organ Concerto No. 4 in C major after Ernst, BWV 595:

These are Bach transcriptions and not among Bach's best organ offerings. They are still very enjoyable works, and Richter gets as much out of them as any other performer. He makes them interesting listening which is much more than I can say for most other versions. The outer movements of BWV 593 display a controlled abandon with a strong differentation of themes. The work's slow movement is one of a hushed and uncommon beauty in Richter's hands. In the one movement Concerto after Ernst, Richter fully brings out the heroic nature of the music. I do think that some listeners would find Richter a little willful in those two outer movements, but I feel it's just what the music needs.

Chorales "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" BWV 645 & "Kommst du nun, Jesus, vom Himmel herunter", BWV 650:

Each of these two Schubler Chorales has themes used in Bach Cantatas. BWV 645 appears in the fourth movement of Cantata BWV 140, and BWV 650 in Cantata BWV 137. BWV 645 is the "Wake-Up" Chorale with music ushering in the new day. BWV 650 is a prayer beseeching Jesus to arrive on earth from heaven.

Lionel Rogg has been my standard for both chorales and remains so. Although Richter is very rewarding and his slow BWV 645 works beautifully, Rogg's voice interplay is magical and lifts his performances to the top. However, I'm confident that most listeners would derive great satisfaction from Richter.

Toccata & Fugue in D minor, "Dorian", BWV 538 - The work's Toccata involves a conversation between two manuals and is highlighted by sixteenth-note runs. The Fugue might just be Bach's best organ fugue and is highlighted by suspensions and stretto; the ceremony and depth of emotion leaves me in awe. For comparison, I used Richter's exceptional and earlier 1958 performance on Teldec. The two versions are quite similar: tempos are slow, both Toccatas possess strong drive and lyricism, and the sound reproduction is fine. I do feel that Richter is a little more expansive in the Fugue on the DG issue, but the Teldec conveys a more concentrated drive and inevitability. Both versions are superb.

Don's Conclusions: I have no problem strongly recommending Richter's performances on Eloquence. BWV 542, BWV 538, and the organ concertos are essential listening experiences; the remainder of the program is highly rewarding. I don't find any eccentricities, although some might feel that Richter displays a few in the organ concertos. I do find performances which always reach the core of Bach's music and do so with a high level of poetry. DG's presentation is bare-bones in that opening the booklet only reveals commercials for other Eloquence discs.

 

Karl Richter: Short Biography | Münchener Bach-Chor
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Recordings of Instrumental Works | General Discussions | Richter’ Video
Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - Richter | BWV 244 - Richter | BWV 245 - Richter | BWV 248 - Richter
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Famous Bach Organ Works from Karl Richter | Karl Richter Performs Bach’s Partitas & Goldbergs | Review: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 5 - conducted by Karl Richter
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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: ýDecember 7, 2006 ý13:55:11