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Gerhard Weinberger (Organ)

Bach Organ Works from Weinberger, Volume 6

R-6

Bach: Organ Works Vol. 6

Prelude & Fugue in D major ("Little"), BWV 532 [10:52]
Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 545 [6:20]
Prelude & Fugue in E minor ("Wedge"), BWV 548 [14:11]
Chorale Prelude Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 720 [4:08]
Chorale Prelude Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721 [6:00]
Chorale Prelude Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 [2:38]
Chorale Prelude (Fantasia Super) Valet will ich dir geben, BWV 735 [4:33]
Chorale Prelude Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein, BWV 741 [5:55]
Chorale Partita Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig, BWV 768 [22:39]

Gerhard Weinberger (Organ) [Christoph Treutmann, Grauhof, 1737]

CPO

Sep 1997

CD / TT: 77:26

Recorded at Augustinian Monastery, Grauhof, Germany.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Donald Satz wrote (April 12, 2002):
As we reach Volume 6 of Gerhard Weinberger's traversal of Bach's organ works, he is becoming a known quanity in many regards. His tempos are generally slower than average, angularity and sharpness are his companions, severity is at peak levels, and he loves to be brash. There are certainly times when Weinberger's severity overcomes any effort to provide lyricism. Also, he sometimes eschews the severe approach but tends toward thin textures and very weak projection.

Still, the majority of his playing has been wonderful. His brash and severe approach works wonders on many early Bach works, and his strength and 'reach for the sky' articulation pays mighty dividends in most cases. Concerning bodies of works, Weinberger's Orgelbuchlein is my favorite on record, and his accounts to date of Leipzig Chorales have been exceptional. Overall, I'm enjoying this series more than the Kevin Bowyer on Nimbus and Christopher Herrick on Hyperion. My primary warning about Weinberger goes out to those who have much trouble with 'Severe Bach'; those folks would likely hate every volume in the series.

For Volume 6, Weinberger gives us a nice variety of works: three preludes & fugues, five chorale preludes, and one gigantic Partita with eleven variations. Weinberger's organ of choice is the Christoph Treutmann Organ at the Grauhof Monastery. Built in the years 1734-37, this is one of the very few Treutmann organs still in existence. In the 19th and early 20th century, many changes were made to the organ to reflect the preferences of those generations. Fortunately, a thorough restoration was performed by the Hillebrand Brothers Organ Building Company of Altwarmbuchen in 1989-92. Thanks to the Hillebrand Brothers, we have the advantage of hearing this organ as it might have sounded to audiences of the 18th century.

Unfortunately, I doubt that either 18th century or modern-day audiences would be enthusiastic about Weinberger's interpretations of the three prelude & fugue works on the disc. I've not heard performances of these three works which are as severe, loud, brash, and jagged as Weinberger's. Although the readings are certainly distinctive, there is a loss of lyricism on Weinberger's part. Listening to the works performed by artists such as Lionel Rogg, Helmut Walcha, E. Power Biggs, Christopher Herrick, Olivier Vernet, Albert Schweitzer, and Ton Koopman well reveals that Weinberger can't capture the music's poetry with such a strong emphasis on severity and jagged rhythms. I have a hunch that the Treutmann Organ and Weinberger are not a good match, but it is Weinberger's responsibility to respond appropriately to his organ's particular qualities. Overall, Weinberger's heavy and head-banging performances are even a little too much for my tastes, and I generally have no problem with a severe Bach.

Although the five chorale settings and BWV 768 are an improvement on the prelude & fugue works, they aren't particularly noteworthy except for BWV 727 and the initial subject of BWV 768 which are mesmorizing. Concerning BWV 768, as Weinberger's performance rolls along, it becomes increasingly overbearing and ends with an extremely heavy 11th variation. To my surprise, the wonderfully uplifting 10th variation could have been much stronger than Weinberger offers.

Don's Conclusions: Volume 6 joins Volume 1 in the "not recommended" category. There is a fine line between severe performances which illuminate and those which just grind away at the listener. In both Volumes 1 & 6, I feel that Weinberger crosses that line. However, Volumes 2 thru 5 are exceptional recordings. If you have already purchased only the 1st or 6th Volumes, please don't accept those results as typical of Weinberger's entire set. There is gold in many of his performances; one just needs to exercise some savvy and sampling to find Weinberger at his best.

 

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 ż10:12:48