Andrea Marcon (Organ)
Early Bach Organ Works from Andrea Marcon
Edition Bachakademie Vol. 87: Organ Works - Ohrdruf, Lüneburg & Arnstadt Chorales
Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 531 [7:37]
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 535 [9:06]
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 535a [1:45]
Prelude & Fugue in D minor, BWV 549 [6:19]
Prelude in A minor, BWV 569 [5:39]
Fantasia in C major, BWV 570 [2:54]
Canzona in D minor, BWV 588 [5:15]
Alla breve in D major, BWV 589 [6:57]
Chorale Prelude Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (II), BWV 700 [4:02]
Chorale Prelude (Fughetta) Das Jesulein soll doch mein Trost, BWV 702 [2:53]
Chorale Prelude Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verdebt, BWV 705 [3:02]
Chorale Prelude Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt (I), BWV 707 [6:30]
Chorale Prelude Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt (II), BWV 708 [1:18]
Fugal Fantasia (Fuga super) Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 716 [2:39]
Chorale Prelude Gott, durch deine Güte (Gottes Sohn ist kommen), BWV 724 [1:47]
Chorale Prelude Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein, BWV 741 [6:24]
Chorale Prelude Auf meinen lieben Gott, BWV 744 [2:48]
Chorale Prelude Christus, der uns selig macht (III), BWV 747 [4:36]
Chorale Prelude Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend (IV), BWV 749 [1:05]
Chorale Prelude Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 750 [1:06]
Chorale Prelude Nun ruhen alle Wälder, BWV 756 [1:20]
Chorale Prelude O Herre Gott, dein göttlich's Wort (I), BWV 757 [2:20]
Chorale Prelude O Vater, allmächtiger Gott, BWV 758 [4:43]
Chorale Prelude Wie schön leuchtet uns der Morgenstern (III), BWV 764 (fragment) [1:22]
Chorale Prelude Wir glauben all an einen Gott (II), BWV 765 [4:14]
Chorale Prelude O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (IV), BWV 1085 [2:25]
Fantasia in C minor, BWV 1121 [4:28]
Chorale Prelude O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (VIII), BWV deest [3:25]
Andrea Marcon (Organ)
Jun 14-17, 1999
2-CD / TT: 106:32
Recorded at Klosterkirche Muri, Aargau, Switzerland.
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Donald Satz wrote (June 28, 2001):
If you are in the market for youthful Bach on the organ in power-packed performances, look no further than Andrea Marcon's 2-CD survey for Hanssler titled "Ohrdruf, Luneburg & Arnstadt". These works of Bach's youth range from his student days at Ohrdruf and Luneburg to his first professional assignment as organist in Arnstadt. Hanssler's catalog number is 92087 and total time is 107:59. Marcon performs on the organ of the monastery church of Muri(Aargau); the instrument was built by Thomas Schott in the early 1600's and had some restoration work done as recently as 1971. This particular organ is a glorious instrument, and I feel privileged to be able to hear it on record. Andrea Marcon is close to forty years of age and making a major name for himself in the performing and recording of early and baroque music.
The contents of the two discs are:
Prelude in A minor, BWV 569.
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV deest.
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV 1085.
Fantasia in C minor, BWV 1121.
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV 705.
Christus, der uns selig macht, BWV 747.
Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 549.
Allein Gott in der Hob sei Ehr, BWV 716.
Gott, durch deine Gute, BWV 724.
O Vater, allmachtiger Gott, BWV 758.
Canzona, BWV 588.
Wir glauben all an einen Gott, BWV 765.
Allabreve, BWV 589.
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 535a.
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 749.
Das Jesulein soll doch mein Trost, BWV 702.
Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein, BWV 741.
Auf meinen lieben Gott/Alio modo, BWV 744.
Fantasia in C major, BWV 570.
O Herre Gott, dein Gottlichs Wort, BWV 757.
Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, BWV 707/708.
Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 750.
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 535.
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 700.
Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 764(Fragment).
Nun ruhen all Walder, BWV 756.
Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 531.
The above is a total of 28 early Bach organ works and each one is a gem. If you have concerns about the quality of this youthful music, put them aside. Although it wouldn't be reasonable to expect early Bach to possess the depth of inspiration and complexity of the mature Bach, the basic aspects of his music are all on display in the set. His unerring sense of pace and flow, his subtlety, his surprises, and his gorgeous melodies are there for your picking. There's also a brash quality you can't get from the
Marcon's performances will not be to everyone's tastes. He is with little exception forceful, serious, and slow. Nuances are at a minimum.Many collectors would consider his readings of the sledgehammer variety.The man never lets up; he grabs and pounds his way either into your heart or he could give you a major headache. If there is any opportunity to deliver power and force, Marcon usually takes advantage. Concerning the slow tempos he uses, I logically know that he's slow. However, the power of the performances easily erases any feeling of slowness. This is Bach with a bold and heavy hand, and I doubt that listeners will go away with neutral opinions of the interpretations. They are of the love it or hate it variety. Personally, I tend to love Marcon's readings, although listening in somewhat small chunks might be the best way to approach the set.
The Muri organ will also tend to be considered either wonderful or a crude messenger of the music. I find this organ and the sound provided by Hanssler to be as good as it gets.
As for some specific works and peformances, I concsider the Prelude & Fugue in G minor BWV 535 to be the most interesting piece in terms of performance. Marcon also performs the earlier and incomplete version of the Prelude, BWV 535a. This pairing and how Marcon approaches each is very interesting. First, the inclusion of BWV 535a allows the listener to get a great idea of how Bach's mind worked in the improving and lengthening of the Prelude. Second, while Marcon brings out all the artillery in BWV 535a, he becomes mysterious, ominous, and even tender in the Prelude BWV 535. The contrast is strong, and each approach is exceptionally interpreted. Unfortunately, the poetry in the Fugue is rather low and no match for the superb Herrick version on Hyperion.
The Fantasia in C minor, BWV 1121 well displays the powerful, serious, and slow approach that Marcon uses. Harald Vogel on DHM is much quicker and injects some good cheer into the reading. Marcon is relentless as he hammers his way into your psyche. You'll either want him to keep at it or you'll duck to miss the blows.
In the Prelude & Fugue in C minor, most artists inject the music with some unusual registrations for humorous effect. Marcon will have none of that. Humor is not part of the man's music-making.
For all the above, there are works on the disc where the power approach is not viable, and Marcon makes the adjustments and performs splendidly. He radiates great hope and a fine depth of tenderness when required. The BWV 724 and 702 Chorales are good examples of how well Marcon can apply a soft and tender touch.
There is just one spot where I feel that Marcon makes the wrong decision. It's in the second part of the Canzona, and I find the problem ironic. Here we have Andrea Marcon, who personifies tough and powerful, faced with all kinds of great opportunities to show us his heft. But he doesn't take that route at all; the result is an excessively delicate reading that does not excite or intrigue.
Don's Conclusions: The Marcon set is not for the romantics among you nor those who prefer their performing artists to have a little smile now and then. The set is for someone like myself. I love Marcon's bigboned and relentless performances, the lack of smiles concerns me not at all, and I've never heard a better sounding organ. But tread carefully - you could end up with two discs you love to hate. That's where I am with a different 2-CD set which I'm trying to endure long enough to thoroughly detest, but that's another story for later.