Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Ton Koopman Plays Bach|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Ton Koopman is one of the most distinguished Bach interpreters of our time, here performs Bach?s greatest organ works in a program featuring popular Toccata in D minor played on the world-famous Silberman Organ in Freiberg... more »
Koopman in Two Different (Mostly) Bach Programs
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD combines two different recitals by Ton Koopman from two different venues and playing several different instruments. In the first part he plays five organ pieces by Bach on the great Silbermann organ of the St. Marien Cathedral in Freiberg. In the second he teams with the distinguished bass Klaus Mertens who is listed, for some reason, as a baritone. That recital was filmed at the Gohliser Schlösschen in Leipzig. Both recitals took place in 2000.
Amazon has not as yet listed the contents of the DVD. In the organ recital Koopman plays 'Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme' from the Schübler Chorales, BWV 645, 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland', BWV 659, the 'little' Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578, 'Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele,' BWV 654, and the Toccata (but not the Fugue) in D Minor, BWV 565. One can see as well as hear the marvelous articulation for which Koopman is noted; he seems almost to play with a constant staccato. I suspect this is at least partly because of the cathedral acoustic which makes clear articulation more difficult than it might be in a drier space. The camerawork is excellent. For instance, in the little G minor fugue one gets to see the intricate pedalwork close up. The 'Wachet auf' chorale is played sweetly until the entrance of the chorale tune; I felt the registration for the chorale was a bit harsh. 'Schmücke dich,' on the other hand, is dreamily lovely. Although the Toccata in D Minor was exciting, I was disappointed that it was played without its equally exciting fugue. The high point, for me, was the exhilarating G Minor Fugue. Excellent!
The second recital, entitled 'At Home with Bach,' contains 18 numbers and is a bit of a mish-mash, but I suspect it was meant to be. It primarily comprises pieces taken from the Anna Magdalena Bach notebooks and the less-well-known Schemelli Songbook and includes some pieces that may or were not actually by old J.S. himself, although he may have doctored them a bit when he included them in his practice books for his sons. Klaus Mertens, a noted Bach singer who has collaborated with Koopman in many Bach cantata recordings, sings nicely such things as the familiar solo cantata, 'Ich habe genug,' BWV 82, that includes one of Bach's greatest arias, 'Schlummert ein.' (I have to admit that I haven't been able to hear this aria in recent times without hearing, in my mind's ear, the radiant version included in Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's recent Bach cantata CD.) He also sings the less-familiar 'Amore traditore,' BWV 203, and beautifully so. Koopman plays first a harpsichord and then a portative organ, mixing and matching which instrument he uses to accompany Mertens. Among the solo harpsichord pieces are the two versions of the Minuet in G from the Anhang to the AMG Notebooks, one by Petzold (known to every beginning piano student), the other by who-knows-who. He plays a lovely version of 'Vater unser im Himmelreich,' BWV 683, from the Clavier-übung III on the little portative. Mertens trots out an elaborately carved old pipe when he sings the comic aria, 'So oft ich meine Tobackpfeife,' BWV 515a.
I had never seen Koopman live before and was amused to see that when he is playing solo organ he tends to be relatively still, although one sees him keeping rhythms subtly with his torso and head. But when he is accompanying Mertens or playing solo harpsichord he vigorously bobs and weaves; clearly this is an old habit that comes from leading ensembles from the keyboard. I found it a little distracting until I decided to think of it as a form of dance; then I felt it added rhythmic point to the proceedings.
Koopman is clearly one of our leading baroque musicians and this DVD easily explains why. He is not only a marvelous instrumentalist, he is also a knowing and enthusiastic musician who communicates both the heart and mind of the music to his audience.