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14
Complete Organ Music
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2008
As one completely devoted to the organ works of Bach (and of others), I highly recommend this recording. I have loved Buxtehude's organ works for many years, and had certain recordings on LP (old Mercury Living Presence of Alf Linder and the LP of Walcha's "Orfelmeister vor Bach,") which are my favorites. Neither, however, is available on CD. While Walter Kraft is not Helmut Walcha or Alf Linder (an objective observation, not a qualitative one), he is not an average, or even a good organist. He is a superb organist. Listening to this album not only brought me back to organ music that I love, it introduced me to someone who plays it differently (not worse) than those I was familiar with. I knew Walter Kraft's playing from some Bach LP's I have hidden away in my multitude of old recordings. I prefer Walcha and Karl Richter for Bach, which does not mean that I will throw away any Jeanne Demessieux, E. Power Biggs, or Simon Preston recordings I have, let alone my Schweitzer LP's. This album is not only the best recording available of all Buxtehude's organ music, it stands by itself due to the virtuosity of Mr. Kraft. It is great music, well played, and eminently listenable.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Dietrich Buxtehude was but one of a long and distinguished line of Dutch, Danish and German organists/composers beginning with Conrad Paumann in the fifteenth century and ending with the death of J S Bach and the Barok epoch some three hundred years later. In the company of Sweelinck, Bruhns, Muffat, Reinken et al, he was a luminary; but it is as mentor and inspirer of Bach that his place in history has been elevated above that of the others.

Musically, he was very inventive but seemed to have a rather short attention span so that the potential of much of his thematic material remained undeveloped. It was in the hands of Bach (who "borrowed" a surprising amount of Buxtehude's writing - a common enough practice at the time) that the seeds germinated to become the zenith of Barok (and subsequent) organ composition. This set from Vox and Walter Kraft reminds us of just how much Bach and, by extension, ourselves, was/are indebted to Buxtehude.

Sadly, the three organs organs of the Marienkirche, Lübeck, two of which pre-dated Buxtehude, were destroyed in 1942. The instrument of the Totentanzkapelle (from 1477) was restored to a 17th century specification in 1937 but this and the chapel were damaged in the fire following an allied bombing raid. However, Kemper u. Sohne were able to restore the instrument to its pre-war condition and it is this organ that is featured on these recordings. It is voiced in a manner with which Buxtehude would have been familiar and is quite well suited to this purpose but it proved mechanically unreliable and was replaced some ten years after these recordings were made. A more suitable instrument would be the church's Große Orgel (also by Kemper) but this was not completed until 1986.

Walter Kraft, organist at the Marienkirche for nearly fifty years, revived the tradition of Abendmusik started by Franz Tunder and continued by his son-in-law, Buxtehude so despite the break in organ lineage, there is a considerable sense of history attached to this set of six CDs transferred from the 1950's LPs. Kraft's interpretations and playing are scholarly and refined, having much in common with his contemporary Helmut Walcha but unlike Walcha who lived to his mid-eighties, Kraft, having survived the vicissitudes of war, perished in an Amsterdam hotel fire in 1977.

The original recordings, which were good, have been digitally enhanced to provide a bright and well-balanced reproduction of these important works and to those familiar with the earlier records, it might seem that some of the more wayward acoustics (seven seconds reverberation!) of this glorious Gothic brick building have been tamed in the process.

I can't think why anyone would not derive a great deal of pleasure from listening to these excellent discs. The musical content, being so seminally influential, in my judgment is a required adjunct to the works of J S Bach.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Not always have we got a clear notion as to the extent in which Buxtehude influenced the work of J.S. Bach. Neither is a Buxtehude's full collection available in just one album at such an accesible price. This is an impeccable remasterisation of a celebrated performance of Walter Kraft on the Lubeck Cathedral organ: an instrument very similar to those Buxtehude wrote for.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This is by far (with the exception of the set performed by Harald Vogel) the best recording of Buxtehude's complete output for Organ. With two exceptions (not included in this recording are the Praeludium C-Dur BuxWV 138 and the Kanzonette a-Moll BuxWV 225), Walter Kraft here records the entire opus for Organ of his illustrious predecessor at the post of Organist and the Marienkirche zu Luebeck--the Danish/German Organist Dietrich Buxtehude.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2010
I Listened to this recording many years ago on vinyl and was mesmerized. When CD's came into being, this recording was lost in oblivion for several years. Finding it again after 20+ was a god-send. I am able to enjoy this gorgeous interpretation by Herr Kraft again; especially the Prelude and Fugue in F#minor; one of my absolute favorites!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2010
Walter Kraft is no Jean Guillou but who is for that matter? I've often endured people's disgust with how Kraft performs but what exactly did VOX hear in this man's playing that my colleagues didn't? Why did VOX contract this man to record all of Bach's and Buxtehude's work?

I'll tell you what I DO NOT hear. I don't hear the sporadic, rhythmic interrupting nonsense (Anthony Newman) and exaggerated phrasing (Jean Guillou) that so many organists dump on us with their 'personal' renditions' of how this music should be performed. What I do hear from Kraft is consistent, energetic, well-paced and registered organ performances.

I find scholarly approaches, such as this cd set, to recording this music very satisfying (with the exception of Schweitzer's mess) and I am extremely satisfied with my fellow reviewers of this album. In fact, one of Kraft's students, Werner Jacob (R.I.P.) recorded the Bach oeuvre to thrilling success.

So applause to the previous reviewers! I wondered for some time if I was one of none who ever appreciated the work of one Walter Kraft. This is an excellent album!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
I don't know why this collection has such excellent reviews. The playing is very good and tasteful, beautiful instrument, no sound quality issues. But a lot of mistakes were edited out, especially on longer pieces, and the abundant cuts are all abrupt and noticeable. In each case, the previous note/chord breaks immediately rather than fading out and the new note jolts in suddenly, with no overlap. You could do a better editing job with I-tunes--assuming you stop after each error, which probably didn't happen. For what it's worth, I wasn't listening for errors, and I don't approach music with a score card in hand. But I can't help hearing the edits and they ruin an otherwise excellent recording. At $25, well worth it anyway, if you're like me and wondering why in the world you don't have this compilation. But I'd rather pay $10-$15 more for a perfect recording with a blip or two every so often.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2012
If you love classical organ music and you are tired of listening to your Bach collection over and over again, then you really should purchase this CD package. The pieces have a very chorale quality, not over-whelming you like some Bach compositions. Almost all of the pieces are quite short, just a few minutes or less each. And you get six CD's for less than $ 20.00. So this is a must for those who are big Bach organ listeners.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
Great buy !! Complete Organ Works, 6 cd's, delivered to my mailbox in less than a week for $17.22 !!!!
Walter Kraft did a fine job !! These 1957 recordings at the Organ of the Marienkirche, Lubeck, Germany are all around quality !

Buxtehude was a visionary composer who towered above his contemporaries. Telemann, Handel, Bach, and many others traveled to hear Buxtehude play, and were all influenced by this great master.

I prefer his sonatas and chamber music as his greatest accomplishments.

When I ripped these 6 cd's to my computer I found disc 2 canceled out disc 1, and disc 5 would not rip at all because it thought it was a disc already ripped onto my computer. So, only 3 tracks from disc 1 remained after disc 2 overwrote 26 of the 29 tracks. All of disc 2, 3, 4, and 6 ripped onto the computer, 5 would not rip.

Good day friends !!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The music of Buxtehude was introduced to me as it is to most people in association with the music of J. S. Bach. He is the great predecessor and master of north German organ technique and composition that inspire the young J.S. to walk 200 miles from his home to Lubeck to hear him play his regular Abendmusiken. Bach was greatly influenced by his organ technique and his musical style. This present recording will give you some inclination as to why this was so. The music contained herein is at once serious, dramatic, straightforward and awesomely enveloping. There are no pyrotechnics for display effects as in Liszt and Chopin. The techniques enhance the directness of the music. There is a wide variety of compositions included herein. Very large works that show off the capacity of the particular organ and the artistry of the player. Then smaller works that were perhaps written as incidental works of fun and for teaching purposes. They all make great listening and rewarding on repeated playing. "What a joyful noise-----!" One can certainly hear the influence that these works had on J.S. Bach but you will soon appreciate what makes Bach the great composer of all time.
The recordings are amazing. They date from the 1950s but they will challenge any speaker system. The recording engineers used advanced techniques and the organist (now dead) Walter Kraft is superb.
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