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Thread: Organ - Composer and Recording Recommendations

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    Default Organ - Composer and Recording Recommendations

    I was exposed to organ music at a young age - my father had several albums of Bach's organ works, but my mother couldn't stand the sound, so he didn't play them that often (back in the day, we had a large cabinet record player, so if you wanted to listen to music, that meant the house had to listen to music). At the time, it didn't impress me much. As I began my exploration of classical music later in life, I listened to the stereotypical Bach organ works, but then bought a Bach recording by Walcha, and fell in love. I have added some further recordings to my collection - mostly Bach. They include:
    Bach - Scales from Weimar - Martin Lücker (Hänssler)
    Bach - Great Organ Works - Helmut Walcha (DG)
    Bach - The Art of Fugue - Helmut Walcha (Archiv)
    Bach - Goldberg Variations - Jean Guillou (Dorian)
    Bach - Trio Sonatas - John Butt (HM)
    Bach - Works for Organ - E. Power Biggs (Sony)
    Buxtehude - Organ Works - Rene Saorgin (HM)
    Bach - Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works - Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)
    Virgil Fox Encores - Virgil Fox (RCA)

    I have spent some time in Europe, and recently, while in Budapest, I was able to attend an organ concert in the Szent Istvan Basilika, and enjoyed it greatly.

    My question is, for those organ lovers out there, what am I missing? What other great organ composers should I be exploring? Obviously my interests skew more towards the baroque era, but I am not opposed to later composers. And what recordings, in particular, would be essential?

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    There's much to enjoy about Jehan Alain's organ music
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    My question is, for those organ lovers out there, what am I missing? What other great organ composers should I be exploring? Obviously my interests skew more towards the baroque era, but I am not opposed to later composers. And what recordings, in particular, would be essential?
    Buxtehude, Mendelssohn, Franck, Reger, Jongen, Schmidt.

    EDIT: and if you want to dive into French organ music, the already mentioned Alain, Widor, Vierne, Dupre, Langlais, for starters..
    Last edited by Art Rock; May-03-2019 at 16:56.
    ..........................................

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    I took organ lessons before grade school, never took it to the next level, but moved on to wind instruments. Being a lover of harmonics and overtones, I'm lately listening to a lot of organ music for that reason, having qualities of both winds and keyboards. Like harpsichords, and unlike the piano, it's cool that there is so much tonal variety between instruments.

    Messiaen was the starting point for me. Then came the renaissance keyboard stuff, such as Gabrielli, Cabezon, a lot of transcriptions, kinda like the early lute repertory - ricercare, fantasies, etc... it's hard to find good recordings from this era. Searching labels like Tactus, Stradivarius and Brilliant can be productive.

    Bach, Couperin, and Vierne have been getting more play time lately. The Bach (box) set by Isoir is not perfect but serves me well. Ben van Oorsten is good with Vierne with a nice ambient sound.


    Back to Messiaen, his own recordings on EMI are timeless, and the recent set by Colin Andrews is very impressive. Don't start with Livre d'Orgue if you're easily intimidated.
    Last edited by philoctetes; May-03-2019 at 20:58.

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    I've seen several Naxos Organ Encyclopedia recordings, for example of Pachelbel's organ works. Any thoughts? Naxos, has a lot of good recordings, but can be a little more spotty.

    Any recommendations of specific recordings? Particular organists?

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    After doing some deeper research, looking through old threads on here, and consulting some other websites, I ended up picking up 3 albums.

    Jean Guillou's album recorded on the Great Organ of Saint Eustache in Paris, on the Dorian label. This is a variety of works from Bach, de Grigny, Mozart, Liszt, Widor, and Guillou himself.
    Michael Murray's Telarc recording of works by Dupré, Franck, and Widor.
    And Widor's 5th and 9th Organ Symphones recorded by John Grew on the ATMA Classique label.

    Definitely heavier on the French organ composers, but then I already had quite a bit from Bach and Buxtehude. I am really interested in Messiaen, but from what I could find, the Olivier Latry complete organ works recording is the one to get, and wasn't ready to lay out the $60 I found it for on iTunes just yet. Any other recommendations for good Messiaen recordings? Most of my music purchases are through iTunes, and I couldn't find Messiaen's recordings on there.

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    Default François Couperin. Messe à l'usage des paroisses 1690 & Isnard organ of 1770

    This combination of work and organ I find utterly wonderful. Things to note are the amazing sound of the reed pipes, the un-tempered tuning, and the notes inégales which give a lovely swing to the scalic passages.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    I was exposed to organ music at a young age - my father had several albums of Bach's organ works, but my mother couldn't stand the sound, so he didn't play them that often (back in the day, we had a large cabinet record player, so if you wanted to listen to music, that meant the house had to listen to music). At the time, it didn't impress me much. As I began my exploration of classical music later in life, I listened to the stereotypical Bach organ works, but then bought a Bach recording by Walcha, and fell in love. I have added some further recordings to my collection - mostly Bach. They include:
    Bach - Scales from Weimar - Martin Lücker (Hänssler)
    Bach - Great Organ Works - Helmut Walcha (DG)
    Bach - The Art of Fugue - Helmut Walcha (Archiv)
    Bach - Goldberg Variations - Jean Guillou (Dorian)
    Bach - Trio Sonatas - John Butt (HM)
    Bach - Works for Organ - E. Power Biggs (Sony)
    Buxtehude - Organ Works - Rene Saorgin (HM)
    Bach - Masaaki Suzuki Plays Bach Organ Works - Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)
    Virgil Fox Encores - Virgil Fox (RCA)

    I have spent some time in Europe, and recently, while in Budapest, I was able to attend an organ concert in the Szent Istvan Basilika, and enjoyed it greatly.

    My question is, for those organ lovers out there, what am I missing? What other great organ composers should I be exploring? Obviously my interests skew more towards the baroque era, but I am not opposed to later composers. And what recordings, in particular, would be essential?
    I can only speak for music before 1750. If I were you I would buy some good compilation recordings and then take it from there, pursuing composers who capture your imagination. This is a recommendable one.

    51MOaDNvFML._SY355_.jpg

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