This treasure at last
Tim Brain | WA United States | 11/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This long-awaited presentation dedicated to Marie-Claire Alain is quite magnificent. To have from your armchair a leisurely world tour of great organs and cathedrals via Bach's towering masterworks, at the shoulder of one of his greatest living scholars and interpreters, what more could be asked?
From the benchmark audio recordings that had for so long been our only access to M-C Alain, we finally unveil this priestess of Bach as she speaks to her passion and depth of understanding in these compositions, and the intricacies of the instruments they command. With a lifetime of devotion to Bach's work, little wonder she appears as thrilled to share her knowledge and insights with us as we are to receive them.
Marie-Claire journeys with us from obscure villages to the major cities of Europe, conducting a study tour of the greatest pipe organs in the world and elucidating Bach's life and genius along the way. We learn that several of these organs are considered so perfectly made they remain unmodified from the 17th century when Bach himself played them. I found Marie-Claire's comments on the building, catagorization and history of these mammoth and mysterious instruments, their peculiarities of sonority and design, and the political/religious background of their creation to be a good part of the value of this DVD.
The other, of course, is watching her play. If you ever contemplated how any one person elicits the avalanches of sound built into the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the assurance and artistry of Ms. Alain's hands and feet flying nimbly over multiple keyboards, foot pedals, stoppers and levers at once is a revelation. In other moments, the delicacy in subtle passages for which she is perhaps even more greatly renowned.
Sound and picture quality are excellent. Thankfully, this production for the most part is spared the over-caffeinated video editing that has plagued classical performance DVDs of late."
A time-travel journey
Glen Trebilcock | Chicago, IL | 03/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fascinating DVD experience that encaptures the full sound of a few of the most relevant European organs, masterfully recorded with great audio quality and a balanced photography that chooses to prioritize the organ sound over its majestic construction and the magnificence of the buildings that house these instruments. Mrs. Alain's technique is sophisticated and passionate, and she even takes the time to explain a few of the organ's complex functions such as its multi-keyboard layout and its main registers.
The directors seems to have chosen to remove the first 30 or 40 bars of the Fugue (from Toccatta and Fugue in D minor) which is frankly disappointing and a very unfortunate decision considering the complexity, beauty and relevance of this piece under any point of view. This is the reason I'm not giving 5 stars to this magnificent and inspiring production."