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Bach: The Organ Works / Das Orgelwerk [Box set, Import]

Johann Sebastian Bach , Peter Hurford Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Peter Hurford
  • Audio CD (July 10, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 17
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Decca / London
  • ASIN: B0000041KD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,340 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

When it comes to organ music there's Bach, and there's everyone else. The actual amount of organ music that he composed is in dispute for a couple of reasons. On issue is attribution: much of the music exists only in copies from Bach's pupils and family members, and so the question of authorship may be in doubt. The other issue is which instrument Bach actually intended some of the keyboard music to be played on. Although scholars agonize over this problem, the fact is that Bach's music usually sounds fine played even on kazoos--it's almost indestructible--so the organ suits it in any case. This collection is one of the most comprehensive available, and it's excellently played and recorded. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unreservedly recommended. December 19, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Happy the organist, like Peter Hurford, who can record over a period of twelve years in countries such as Germany, Austria, England, Australia, USA and Canada the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach! Exploring the way Bach's mind works must be the most rewarding experience for which a practising musician could wish.
Peter Hurford did all this, between 1974 and 1986. The result is this tightly packed box of 17 CDs. It is possibly the largest recorded survey of Bach's works for organ. It includes items that some researchers believe are of doubtful authenticity. Hurford uses mainly C20th organs, or organs that incorporate piping from earlier originals. Registrations occasionally include a discrete tremolo, such as may be heard in the Chorale Prelude "Auf meinen lieben Gott" BWV 744. When you hear the sound fade and disappear at the end of the 16th CD, don't suspect a technical fault. The work being played, Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 535a, was left incomplete by Bach.
Clifford Bartlett has written the accompanying notes, reproduced in English French, German and Italian. Organ specifications are detailed, and recording dates and locations are specified.
When your hands are busy with four manuals and ranks of organ stops, and when your feet are playing a footboard, it is difficult to maintain a flowing and consistent pulse in the music. Peter Hurford, in my estimation, "never puts a foot wrong" in this regard. Tempos are never irregular, either for reasons of expressiveness or because of physical coordination difficulties.

This well-presented issue is one of the few to receive a rosette award in the "Penguin Bargain Guide to CDs".
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The music and playing are stunning March 8, 2000
Format:Audio CD
I was drawn to this stunning collection while searching nostalgically for Bach organ works that I recalled from school in the 1960s. Every morning for the six years I attended, chapel services at my school began and ended with Bach preludes and fugues, beautifully played on the school's pipe organ by a clever organist who was abruptly fired the last year I attended. --Rumor had it the not-so-nice new headmaster dismissed the organist because he was gay.-- While I can still hear many of those Bach preludes in the voice of that organ in my mind's ear, I never learned their names.
As I started to rush through this collection listening for familiar bits, I found not only the themes that I remembered, but also great many jubilant surprises. Peter Hurford interpretations are simple and straightforward but extraordinary, as are the sound quality and his imaginative play on the instrument. Any one of the 17 CDs in the collection could easily stand by itself. This is not your usual complete collection. Buy it and listen; be lifted by the sounds and the clean, imaginative playing again and again!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EMPHATICALLY 5 stars! February 27, 2004
By altoman
Format:Audio CD
Bach's organ works place incredible demands on the performer, both physically (consider the endurance it takes to play the massive Toccata in F major), technically (the Trio Sonatas, among many others), and interpretationally. Peter Hurford triumphantly meets those demands in a spectacular set of recordings.
To those who are doubters: listen to the (in)famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor, that overplayed warhorse. Hurford brings to it an electricity that makes you feel you are hearing it for the first time again. He also has an amazing ear for registrations, one of the most underestimated difficulties of an organist's art, never wearying the ear, but using a wide palette of colors. [Bach himself was widely known for his innovative registrational practices. Contemporaries remarked that when he was testing organs he would pull combinations of stops that they were certain would sound badly together, only to find that he had created an entirely new sound. Thus, creative registrations should not offend purists in any way.]
Hurford's approach to these works obviously takes into consideration, but is certainly not bound by, historically informed performing practices. His phrasing is immaculate, and consistently interesting. In all, this is a stunning accomplishment.
GET THIS WHILE IT REMAINS AVAILABLE. The classical recording industry is in trouble, and the deletions axe is constantly falling. Large, expensive sets like this are sure to go. While the price itself appears high, it is really very reasonable, running under $8 per disc.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The nearest you will get to Bach without a time machine! November 19, 2003
Format:Audio CD
I grew up on Helmut Walsha, then on to Ton Koopman on Novalis. Then I realised I ought to expand my collection. The box set arrived, and I cranked up the tubes a sat back. I have to say it was a shock. Initially I was a bit disappointed. The timing was quite different, the pieces I knew so well were lighter, more airy. I listened on and into the night, and found my initial reaction was unfounded. Peter Hurford has, I truly believe, got to the heart of the pieces, the detail is remarkable, the playing so natural, the emotion just pours out of the speakers.
Treble details flows out across the room like I have never heard, and the big pipes rumble beneath the set, and all retaining a remarkable church acoustic.
Forget all that has gone before, buy it and listen, but don't stay up to late!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Afer listening to these CD's I must say that Peter Hurford is number one playing the organ. He certainly is very gifted and he is absolutley amazing with his pedal technique. Read more
Published on February 24, 2008 by Bertrand Edward Davis Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great CD sets of all time
Like another reviewer here I grew up on Helmut Walcha's DG set on LP, and was also familiar with a number of other "great Bach organ work" collections. Read more
Published on February 7, 2006 by Stephen Gould
4.0 out of 5 stars One of two "keepers"
A lot of reviews rave about this set. I just wish they would say why it's so good and I hope they're, well, comparing it to something. Read more
Published on July 1, 2005 by Wayne A.
2.0 out of 5 stars Bach the organ works
A poor, jumpy, amateurish and unimaginative rendition of the pedal exercitium in g minor is what sticks to mind. Although its only an exercise i think it's worth more than that. Read more
Published on November 22, 2004 by Mr. P. Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Hurford gives incisive readings
Peter Hurford's traversal of the entire organ literature for London Decca is truly one of the greatest recorded achievements. Read more
Published on April 4, 2004 by Prescott Cunningham Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurford the ecstatic, profound pixie
This is music to lift the heart and soul. Peter Hurford's rendition of the complete works for organ by Bach makes me want to jump for joy. Read more
Published on August 21, 2003 by Ralph Johansen
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any Bach or organ music fan
All of Bach's on 17 CDs of very decent sound quality. The paper CD sleeves are the only thing one wishes could be better. Read more
Published on July 30, 2003 by Never_Again
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Well, reading the other reviews, I see I won't have much of anything new to add to the praise this outstanding collection is getting. Read more
Published on July 18, 2003 by Eric Spray
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch this space
Having just purchased a collection of 17 CDs I set out to review them. But how can I do this - the task is so monumental even to just listen to all of these discs. Read more
Published on August 11, 2002 by A. G. Plumb
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutly brillant
This is Bach at his finest. And you won't find better recordings of Bach's greatest masterpieces. Peter Hurford plays wonderfully in this amazing set.
Published on June 22, 2002
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