Magazine article The Tracker

Johann Sebastian Bach Organ Music

Magazine article The Tracker

Johann Sebastian Bach Organ Music

Article excerpt

Johann Sebastian Bach Organ Music, Barbara Harbach, organ, MSR Classics 1444 (originally issued on Gasparo Records). Barbara Harbach has chosen two upstate New York organs for this recording. For the first five cuts, the 1983 Fisk organ in the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester is heard. Schlicker's 1970 instrument in the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lyons is used for the remaining pieces.

This CD reveals one of the shortcomings of using a recording to judge the sound of an organ. You simply can not tell how loud it is. Yes, if the recording engineer or editor didn't change the gain you can tell that one registration is louder or softer than another, but you can't know the baseline. I happen to know that the Fisk in Rochester is really LOUD! It is beautifully voiced and balanced and the colors of the individual stops are quite fine. But I once played a recital there and was rehearsing the Dudley Buck Grand Sonata in E-flat. The opening movement calls for full Swell coupled to full Great, which I had dutifully drawn and was wailing away on. The then organist there, Mel Butler, very kindly offered to play a few bars while I went out to listen. I was horrified! There was no way one could ask people with normal hearing to risk their ears to such a blast of sound, no matter how refined, for an entire movement. …

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