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Gerhard Weinberger (Organ)

Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Volume 1

R-1

Bach: Organ Works Vol. 1

Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 531 [6:51]
Prelude & Fugue in E minor ("Cathedral"), BWV 533 [4:38]
Prelude & Fugue in D minor, BWV 549 [6:05]
Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 551 [6:13]
Kirnberger Chorales:
Chorale Prelude Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten (III), BWV 690 [2:47]
Chorale Prelude Wer nur den lieben Gott laebt walten (IV), BWV 691 [2:11]
Chorale Prelude Wo soll ich fliehen hin (II), BWV 694 [3:36]
Chorale Prelude (Fantasia super) Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 695 [4:10]
Chorale Prelude Christum wir sollen loben schon, BWV 696 [1:45]
Chorale Prelude Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ (II), BWV 697 [1:10]
Chorale Prelude (Fughetta) Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn, BWV 698 [1:10]
Chorale Prelude Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (VI), BWV 699 [1:37]
Chorale Prelude Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (II), BWV 700 [1:27]
Chorale Prelude Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (III), BWV 701 [3:34]
Chorale Prelude Gottes Sohn ist kommen, BWV 703 [1:03]
Chorale Prelude Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott (II), BWV 704 [1:23]
Chorale Prelude Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verdebt, BWV 705 []
Chorale Prelude Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (III), BWV 706 [4:00]
Chorale Prelude Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend (II), BWV 709 [3:26]
Chorale Prelude Wir Christenleut, BWV 710 [2:11]
Chorale Prelude Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (VII), BWV 711 [3:53]
Chorale Prelude In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr, BWV 712 [2:24]
Chorale Prelude (Fantasia super) Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 713 [5:31]

Gerhard Weinberger (Organ) [Gottfried Silbermann, 1711-1714]

CPO

Aug 1997

CD / TT: 73:15

Recorded at Dom St. Marien, Freiberg, Sachsen, Germany.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Donald Satz wrote (September 10, 2001):
Gerhard Weinberger has been traversing for CPO the complete Bach organ works and already has quite a few volumes released. I'm coming late to this series but will try to catch up with this cycle which has been receiving mixed reviews. The basic criticism of the reviews is that Weinberger displays a rather rigid and austere view of Bach's music with some loss of poetry and expressiveness. However, there are a few reviewers who consider Weinberger about perfect with his strong and unmannered readings.

Mr. Weinberger was born in 1948 and did his basic music study at the Munich Academy of Music specializing in organ and church music. He is currently a professor of organ at the Detmold Academy of Music and has edited the complete edition of Robert Schumann's and J. Kreb's organ works. For Volume 1, Weinberger performs on the Gottfried-Silbermann Organ, Dom St. Marien, Freiberg. This organ was built from 1711 to 1714 and had its most recent significant overhaul in the early 1980's. Currently, it is the largest surviving Silbermann organ except for one in
Dresden.

The Kirnberger Collection of miscellaneous Bach chorales ranges in time from Bach's Arnstadt period into his Leipzig years. For comparison with Weinberger's performances, I used the sets from Herrick, Rubsam, Rogg, and Jacob in addition to a few chorales from other recorded artists.

Weinberger's Kirnberger performances are not among the better sets. Out of eighteen chorales, seven are not at all satisfying: BWV 690, 694, 695, 696, 697, 699, and 703. His problem is a mixture of severity, slow tempo, poor registrations, and solemnity. When the four join hands, the results are ponderous at best. Bach's great capacity to lift the human spirit doesn't play much of a role in Weinberger's interpretations. In BWV 695 he is absurdly slow, BWV 697 is just raucous, and BWV 699 is much too solemn without any lift.

BWV 698 & BWV 712 are exceptional readings, but the overall effect of Weinberger's chorale performances is one of being slowly but inexorably beaten down. The severity condition is likely the most incapacitating in these pieces. At any rate, there's little to recommend here. I appreciate the severe nature of Weinberger's musical personality, but he needs to have a better grasp of his own nature and make the right adjustments for music which requires anything but severity. In a sense, music has a 'heart and soul'; in the chorales, Weinberger conveys little of this crucial element.

Weinberger's treatment of the Preludes & Fugues on the disc is an entirely different matter; each is from Bach's tenure at Arnstadt. Weinberger is now in his element with music which has bite and some severity instead of going against the grain as he does with the Chorales. The Prelude from BWV 549 is made to order for Weinberger; he is powerful, sharp, and particularly poignant. The Prelude & Fugue BWV 531 receives a superb performance by Weinberger who fully captures the music's youthful, bold, and brash nature. Much the same applies to his readings of BWV 533 & BWV 551.

Don's Conclusions: Gerhard Weinberger's first volume of Bach organ works does not bode well for the remainder of the cycle. The majority of the music for Volume 1 consists of the Kirnberger selection of chorales, and Weinberger's musical personality is at odds with most the pieces in the set. His performances of the four relatively early Preludes & Fugues is much better as it well suits Weinberger's approach to Bach. Weinberger's greatest challenge might be to stop being so solemn when he tries to add some tenderness to the music. Overall, he has significant trouble with Bach's poetic and gentle side.

I can't recommend this first volume of the set. However, when doing complete cycles, some artists keep maturing as they progress into the series. Hopefully, Weinberger will do just that. If not, an eventual re-issue of a small number of discs just having Bach's more powerful organ compositions would seem best for the Bach organ enthusiast.

 

Gerhard Weinberger: Short Biography | Recordings of Non-Vocal & Vocal Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 1 | Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 2 | Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 3 | Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 4 | Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 5 | Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Vol. 6 | Gerhard Weinberger's Bach Organ Series, Vol. 15

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Last update: żOctober 2, 2007 ż10:12:47