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Wolfgang Rübsam (Organ)

Bach Organ Works from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 3

R-3

J.S. Bach: Preludes & Fugues BWV 536, 541, BWV 542, 544 and 546

Preludes & Fugues BWV 536 [7:43], BWV 541 [9:49], BWV 544 [15:21], BWV 546 [14:45]
Fantasia & Fugue in G minor ("Great"), BWV 542 [14:30]

Wolfgang Rübsam (Organ)

Naxos

Nov 1989

CD / TT: 62:42

Recorded at Martinikerk, Groningen, Holland.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com [Box Set]

Donald Satz wrote (February 13, 2002):
This is a third volume of Wolfgang Rübsam's complete Bach organ works from Naxos. For this volume, the weight, austerity, and sheer power of Bach is on display with five very strong works. Great performances definitely mandate a vengence on the part of the artist while not stinting on the lyrical aspects of the music.

With little exception, Rübsam has the vengence and the lyricism at his command. He does fall short in the BWV 542 Fugue, but that's my only reservation. Rübsam's power, boldness, and severity add up to a unique listening experience. I don't assume that all readers will care for this at all; some will find Rübsam oppressive and somewhat unmusical. He certainly is far from the relatively softer tones of a Christopher Herrick or just about anyone else. Those prone to depression or worse should avoid this disc at all cost; it is a constant reminder of the power of the universe to crush humankind in an instant and that lesser sources like one's own mind can obliterate the spirit within.

Prelude & Fugue in A major, BWV 536 - Great music deserves great performances; those are the only ones that convey the magical qualities of music. Bach's A major is blessed with at least two great recorded versions: Andrea Marcon on Hanssler and Wolfgang Rübsam on Naxos. Marcon has the honors in highlighting the music's joy and optimism; also, his registrations help create a strong up-lifting quality. He is big-boned, heroic, and even thrilling in the Fugue.

Rübsam makes Marcon sound like a pussycat in the Prelude, and that's quite an accomplishment on its own. Rübsam is severe, sharp, urgent, and 'in your face' from the first note; however, he never forgets to bring forth the basic poetry of the Prelude. His Fugue continues along the same lines. Another big plus for Rübsam is the elasticity of his reading; it enhances interest and detail. Actually, I find this elasticity to be the foundation of Rübsam's interpretation. Don't miss out on Marcon and Rübsam in BWV 536.

Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV 541 - Rübsam's elasticity is also on display in the G major. However, I feel that Rübsam does not present the Prelude to its best advantage. That's where Lionel Rogg steps in with an explosion of music played quickly; Rübsam is much slower and essentially alters the music's nature, making it one of sharp examination. It's certainly a valid approach but one of less impact than the Rogg.

Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 - This isn't first-rate Rübsam at all. The Prelude is colossal and Rübsam doesn't quite get there when compared to Karl Richter on Deutsche Grammophon. The bigger problem resides with Rübsam's Fugue. Rübsam is too minutes longer in BWV 542 than Richter, and all of it comes from Rübsam's very slow Fugue. It sounds somewhat lethargic and even sentimental; I didn't notice any uplifting qualities.

Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 544 - Rübsam fully redeems himself in BWV 544. This work has another colossal Prelude, and Rübsam adds the Fugue to the colossal list as well. I've not heard a more powerful and severe interpretation, and I feel that the music easily absorbs this extreme treatment. Rübsam just twists his way through your body in a relentless and precise manner.

Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 546 - After listening to the wonderful version from Christopher Herrick, I can hardly characterize Rübsam's performance as wonderful. Rübsam is a tower of severity and muscle, sounding like he could massacre an entire metropolis unless someone had some kryptonite on hand. If you crave the 'dark force', Rübsam's your man.

Don's Conclusions: I must sound like a broken record in my praise for Rübsam's organ and harpsichord discs on Naxos. However, I keep using my favorite alternative versions and note every possible deficiency when I happen to notice one, which is infrequent. The five works on the disc need a majesty and power of huge proportions; Rübsam delivers the goods and often stakes out unique status for himself as he digs into the bowels of our emotions to unearth the darkest, strongest, and most sinister elements of life.

If you tend to be on my wavelength, consider the disc a must. If not, stay clear because you won't like what you hear. For others, sampling is in order, and the Fugue from BWV 544 is the place to do it. If Rübsam doesn't astound you on first acquaintance, buy something else.

 

Wolfgang Rübsam: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach Organ Works from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 1 | Bach Organ Works from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 2 | Bach Organ Works from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 3 | Bach Keyboard Recordings from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 1 | Bach Keyboard Recordings from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 2 | Bach Keyboard Recordings from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 3 | Bach Keyboard Recordings from Wolfgang Rübsam, Part 4

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Last update: żNovember 1, 2006 ż15:43:05