The seemingly endless landscapes from Saxon Switzerland lead to the cosmos of Bach’s organ works: the conductor, harpsichordist and organist Jörg Halubek is planning – in a ten-part series of publications – to record Bach’s complete oeuvre for organ on famous historic organs. Modern media formats complement the recordings, which are initially available as vinyl and download. The first part of “Bach. The Works for Organ I” with Bach’s “Clavier-Übung III” (1739), recorded on the Trost organ in the Waltershausen Stadtkirche, Thuringia, will be released on 21 June.
Jörg Halubek and a team led by Steffen Geldner, Project Manager Digital Innovation at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Pop Academy, and Johannes Schaugg, professor at the Stuttgart University of Media, take listeners on a multimedia journey of discovery into Bach’s musical worlds. The different design of each of the organs, the specific church interiors, and of course the different works necessitate constantly new interpretative decisions. To make this tangible, “Bach. The Works for Organ” places complementary media formats alongside the audio recordings. With the newest media possibilities of virtual reality and 360° video footage, the churches and instruments can be visited, and the organs discovered from the gallery and from within. In video clips, organ builders, musicologists, Bach experts and interpreters talk about interesting aspects of Baroque organ making. The digital processing will enable one – by listening and informing oneself – to “click” interactively through Bach’s organ biography at the end of the project.
The series of ten planned publications is ordered by biographical and content aspects; the selection of instruments refers to organs that played a role in Bach’s life at each respective time.
Bach goes Vinyl
On 21 June this first album with Bach‘s “Clavier-Übung III” will be released on three vinyl records of high quality (140g) and an eight-page photo booklet at a price of €35 (incl. 19% VAT) - in a limited edition of 250 pieces signed by hand. Shipping is only within Germany. Digital distribution will take place simultaneously on spotify, itunes
The organ at the Waltershausen Stadtkirche is considered the largest and most important organ from Bach’s time in Thuringia. The brochure shows the mighty principals that are decorated with elaborate ornaments, and give a hint of the magnificence of this instrument. With three manuals, 53 sounding registers and 2806 (2071 metal, 458 wood and 277 reed) pipes it is a superlative instrument. Although Trost was given the task of building a two-manual organ, he was inspired by his contemporary Gottfried Silbermann to an instrument of these dimensions. Despite strong opposition from those responsible in Waltershausen, Trost prevailed and even had the gallery lowered by almost two metres to be able to contain the work, which is 8.3 metres high and 8.8 metres wide. Johannes Schaugg and Verena Ecker accompanied the first recording and have compiled extensive photos and video material.
Many artistic decisions must be made before an organ piece can be played. The church interior with its instruments predefines the sound disposition. The organist has to decide on the timbres, the registers for a specific work, which are rarely defined by the composer in detail – and then of course all sorts of performance practice questions, from tempo to articulation. The blog posts provide insights into considerations when interpreting the works.
In the following video clips, Bach researcher Dr. Anselm Hartinger will speak about the Clavierübung and manuscripts from the Baroque era.