Thursday, September 3, 2009

A One Hit Wonder!

One of my favorite LP sets is a 1978, 4-disc set called "Orgelmeister vor Bach" ("The Early German Organ School"), performed by Helmut Walcha. Walcha lost his sight as a teenager but nevertheless mastered a large organ repertory, including Bach's complete organ works. This website discusses his achievements:

My friend who is a professional musician recommended this out of print set, if I could ever find it. I saw it for sale at the wonderful but now defunct Jeff's Record Shop in Tucson. The set was 40-some dollars and I worried about the price, so I didn't buy it, and of course I couldn't find the set again, even on Ebay. Finally I found it on that auction site, however. As "life" seems to go, I saw it again on Ebay just a few weeks later, at an even better price. Oh well.

Buxtehude (the sound of whose name makes me chuckle, for some reason) dominates the orgelmeister on these LPs. But as I played them the other day while writing, I realized how much I enjoyed two pieces on a particular side. They "stood out" that particular day. I checked the label: they were the choral prelude "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" and the "Ciacona in F Minor" by Johann Pachelbel.

Poor Pachelbel! Like Albinoni with his Adagio, Barber with his Adagio, Mouret (whose Rondeau is the Masterpiece Theater theme), and some others, Pachelbel is best remembered by one piece of music. One of my best friends had the Canon performed, among other pieces, for her wedding.

These two small pieces performed by Walcha are so pretty, though. It makes you think that, if you like a piece by a particular composer, you might consider a kind of "journey" to discover other things he or she has written.

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