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  The Bach Organ of St”rmthal / William Porter
The Bach Organ of Störmthal William Porter


 
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Program and Notes Organ Registrations
 
The Bach Organ of Störmthal
Zacharias Hildebrandt organ (1723)
William Porter, organist
 
In 1723, J. S. Bach dedicated this organ with a concert featuring his choir from St. Thomas Church in Leipziag and his wife, Anna Magdalena, as soloist.  The organbuilder Hildebrandt achieved an unusually high variety and quality of tone for an instrument of this size, earning him Bach's lifelong admiration, and later his collaboration on larger projects, including the large Hildebrandt organ in Naumburg.
 
 

 
1 Praeludium in C, BWV 570 (3.15)
 
From the Neumeister Collection:
2 Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, BWV 1115 (3.21)
3 O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV 1095 (2.44)
4 Christus, der ist mein Leben, BWV 1112 (2.17)
5 Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf, BWV 1092 (2.43)
6 Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt, BWV 957 (2.27)
7 Wir Christenleut, BWV 1090 (2.27)
8Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 1116 (2.50)
9 Fugue in C, BWV 946 (4.00)
 
From Orgelbüchlein:
10 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 (1.24)
11Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’, BWV 631 (1.30)
12 Christum wir sollen loben schon , BWV 611 (2.31)
13 Vater unser im Himmelreich , BWV 636 (1.37)
14 Erstanden ist der heilige Christ, BWV 628 (0.58)
15 Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 (1.34)
16 Christe, du Lamm Gottes, BWV 619 (1.10)
17 Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 638 (1.21)
18 Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 610 (2.47)
19 Mit Fried’ und Freud’ ich fahr dahin, BWV 616 (1.48)
20 Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 642 (1.52)

21 Alla breve, BWV 589 (5.33)

TOTAL TIME: 50:12

Program Notes

Much of the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach can be played successfully on an organ having only one manual with pedals. One thinks immediately of the many preludes and fugues for which no second manual is necessary, or even appropriate. But in choosing works for this CD, it seemed better not to provide a program focused on preludes and fugues, which would of necessity point toward a recording of plenum (“full organ”) registrations, but rather to choose from among the various chorale settings, familiar and unfamiliar, that would allow one to explore the remarkable richness of color available at Störmthal, by playing on single registers and with combinations of two or three stops. Of the twenty-one compositions heard on this CD, fourteen of them are played on registrations consisting of three or fewer stops in the manual, with little duplication—twelve different registrations in all. It is characteristic of the organs of Hildebrandt that, at the level of eight- and four-foot stops, each stop has such a distinctive color that it may be used alone with equal success in a variety of textures, and may at the same time be combined with practically any other stop or pair of stops without sacrificing blend or cohesiveness. Moreover, each register is scaled and voiced to serve polyphonic and melodic music equally well. Thus, for example, the same combination of flute registers at eight- and four-foot pitch illuminates both the imitative polyphony of “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” (Neumeister), set in motet style similar to many of the works of Pachelbel, and the more active and concentrated texture of “Mit Fried und Freud’ ich fahr dahin” (Orgelbüchlein) dominated by the relentlessly joyful skipping rhythms of the figura corta.

The chorales from the Neumeister collection, placed in the first part of this recording, show Bach to have been exploring stylistic contrasts from his earliest years as a composer. North German elements are in evidence, from the almost obsessive use of a figure resembling the opening of Buxehude’s famous Praeludium in C (BuxWV 137) in “Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr,” to the use of paraphrase in “Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf,” reminiscent of a number of chorale settings by Georg Böhm. Chorales such as “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” and “Christus der ist mein Leben” reflect more typical central German practice, known particularly in the works of Pachelbel and Johann Michael Bach. Internal contrasts abound as well: “Herzlich lieb” becomes a gigue at its midpoint, as does “Wir Christenleut,” and “Herr Gott, nun schleuss” dissolves into a brilliant cadenza at its close.

If the works presented here from the Orgelbüchlein give the impression of being less wildly experimental than those from the Neumeister collection, they are no less varied in Affekt, and here the registrations are chosen to reinforce the character of each piece. The quiet intricacy of the counterpoint found in “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” finds expression in the use of the Principal and Quintadena together, and two other pieces of similar texture, “Jesu, meine Freude” and “Vater unser im Himmelreich” are played using the Gedackt and Quintadena for the former, and the Gedackt, Quintadena, and Rohrflöte for the latter, both registrations being remarkably successful “substitutes” for the sound of the Principal. The use of all three eight-foot registers together, a risky undertaking on many organs of this period, here provides an elegantly blended sound for “Christe, du Lamm Gottes,” allowing the canon between the tenor and soprano voices to sing with admirable clarity. The remaining pieces from the Orgelbüchlein explore the various possibilities for plenum sounds on the organ at Störmthal, each one slightly different from the other. The variety of successful plenum colors here is astounding for an organ of its size, and it reflects the genius of Hildebrandt in providing an organ ideally suited for its primary purpose, that of leading congregational singing. The challenge of providing a rich palette of strong ensemble sounds to support singing in an organ this small has been admirably realized here, with the added benefit of a kaleidoscopic array of colors for the repertoire as well.

The three “free” works included here form a frame for the chorale settings, and, with the exception of the “Fantasia in C,” further present the organ’s plenum capabilities. This Fantasia is here played on the Principal alone, which is not an original register of Hildebrandt’s, but is nonetheless admirable testimony to the high quality of the pipework provided by the Eule firm in the earlier years of the twentieth century.
 

 
This recording and the Hildebrandt organ at Störmthal were used as part of the research process for an organ project at the ConstellationCenter in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Center is planning a historically reproduced Bach/Hildebrandt-style organ built by Taylor and Boody Organbuilders of Virginia. A significant aspect of the research for this organ has included a study of all the extant Hildebrandt organs, including the organ at Störmthal.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the ConstellationCenter is slated to become one of the world’s finest performing arts centers, home to hundreds of small to mid-sized cultural organizations based in the Greater Boston area, as well as a venue for events of international prominence. The Center will include four halls within one building, each one designed to serve several different kinds of performances in a compatible way.

ConstellationCenter would like to thank the Störmthal parish for their gracious generosity in helping with this unprecedented historic project. Additional information about ConstellationCenter can be found at
http://www.constellationcenter.org.

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