Helmut Walcha Complete Recordings On Archiv Produktion
Helmut Walcha holds a pre-eminent role in the world of organ music. Thirty years after his death, his interpretations of Bach and the early North German repertoire maintain the leading position they have occupied for over 70 years now. He was the first artist signed to Archiv Produktion, and the first artist to record Bach's complete organ works in both mono and stereo. Through the objective and compelling qualities of his interpretations, and stepping back from any obvious effects or eccentricities, Walcha’s recordings bear out why he is still a hugely important organist and his recordings continue to shake up the organ cosmos up to this day. Organ fans all over the world attest these recordings have the rare quality of timelessness.
Correspondence in Archiv’s archives points to intense discussions about artistic and musicological matters between Walcha and label head Hans Hickmann, but the continuous und sometimes confrontational discourse seems to have paid off very well – in truly benchmark Bach recordings which were made the best past of 70 years ago, yet are as engaging today as they were then and will very likely be for the next 70 years.
Marking the 30th anniversary of Walcha’s death, DG are bringing together, for the first time in a limited 32-CD edition, his complete recordings on Archiv Produktion, Deutsche Grammophon and Philips. The attention to detail, scholarly research and beautiful presentation that are the hallmarks of Archiv equally apply to this box set. It also includes the Well-Tempered Clavier, the violin sonatas with Henryk Szeryng and Walcha at the harpsichord, as well as organ works of North German influence by Bruhns, Scheidt, Buxtehude and Sweelinck. For the first time on CD, there is an early Walcha recording with the Thomanerchor Leipzig from 1927: the Bach chorale “Dir, Dir Jehova” BWV 452 with the Thomanerchor Leipzig, with an improvised organ introduction to the sung chorale. The edition is equipped with a 84pp. booklet in English and German featuring new liner notes by the renowned German musicologist Martin Elste and a reprint of an essay by Andreas Holschneider, former President of Deutsche Grammophon, original cover sleeves, with illustrations and dispositions of all organs, an autograph card with signature and, as a special collector's item, the original archive production index card to Bach's famous D minor Toccata.
Walcha's ideal of interpretation – always in the reputation of a certain sobriety and austerity – contrasts in a fascinating way with his colorful and surprising registrations on listed organs by Andreas Silbermann, Arp and Franz Caspar Schnitger, and Friedrich Stellwagen. Walcha's interpretive realization is legendary; not only does it represent the first ever recording on period instruments, but it is itself a high point in recording history.
St. Jakobi Church, Lübeck (Anon., 1467/1515; Friedrich Stellwagen, 1636–37)
St. Peter and Paul Church, Cappel (Arp Schnitger, 1680)
St. Laurens Church, Alkmaar (Galtus Germer van Hagerbeer 1646; Franz Caspar Schnitger, 1723–25)
Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune, Strasbourg (Johann Andreas Silbermann, 1780)
CDs 1-13: J.S. BACH – Complete Works for Organ (in Stereo)
CDs 14-23: J.S. Bach – Complete Works for Organ (in Mono)
CDs 24-27: The Well-Tempered Clavier I & II BWV 846–893
CDs 28-29: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord Nos. 1–6 BWV 1014–1019
CDs 30-32: ORGAN MASTERS BEFORE BACH