Kei Koito – Organ Music Before Bach (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:18:36 minutes | 1,43 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Booklet, Front Cover | © deutsche harmonia mundi
Kei Koito may not be a household name among the amateurs of organ music but in my view, this outstanding recital of music by composers before Bach is going to change this situation and may comfort her position as a great organist in the same league as the likes of Marie- Claire Alain, E Power Biggs or Helmut Walcha. Admittedly, her discography may not be as extensive even though she is no stranger to recording venues. She has already given us a remarkable account of Buxtehude organ works and she is currently recording the complete works of JS Bach, with the aim of making one cd per year.
Such a deliberate, even cautious approach towards recording can only suggest a high artistic integrity combined with a perfectionist approach to music making. This is exactly what we are offered in this amazing recording. I have to state outright that the organ is not my favourite instrument and that the organ repertoire is not my field of expertise either but her playing is so persuasive and the music on offer here so fascinating that I have found myself wanting to explore the organ repertoire more thoroughly.
So what are we being offered here?
Kei Koito has focussed her attention on composers who made a major contribution to the exchange of musical traditions in Europe and made a significant impact on the development of the keyboard repertoire culminating with the compositions by JS Bach.
Music of composers of the pre- Bach era has been carefully selected and judiciously put together to give the listener a coherent vision of what keyboard music was like before Bach.
Half of the recital is made up of works by Johann Pachelbel ( 1633-1706) who was instrumental to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue that Bach was going to perfect further. Interestingly enough, miss Koito chooses not to play here his famous pieces, the Chaconne in F minor and the Toccata in E minor but offers instead the fantasias in D major and C major, the toccatas in G minor and C major, the Ciacona in G minor, the prelude in E minor and fugue in E .minor. These pieces are perfect illustrations of the contrapuntal style with an emphasis on melodic and harmonic clarity and reflect Pachelbel’s gift for the variation form where material is repeated in an altered form.
The rest of the programme is made up of compositions by Georg Muffat (1653-1704), Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656-1746), Johann Jakob Froberger(1616-1667) and Johann Kaspar Kerll(1627-1693). These composers were highly influential in the development of keyboard music. Froberger in particular, who is regarded with Frescobaldi as one of the first great composers of keyboard music, perfected the art and technique of this type of instrument and developed what was essentially to become the classical suite with its basic sequence of Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue. His music has a European dimension, showing a clear influence of the Italian, Dutch and German traditions as well as French style as epitomised by Louis Couperin and Chambonnières with their programme music.
Kerll’ s surviving keyboard music on the other hand, shows a fusion of the Southern German style, combining German counterpoint with Italian style and technique.
Fischer whose music is rarely heard these days, went further in the exploration and development of the keyboard suite as established by Froberger by applying the principles of the orchestral suite to the harpsichord. Finally, Muffat who was a bit of a cosmopolitan composer brought together into his music, ahead of Bach, all the European musical traditions.
The choice of the pieces being played here is like a kaleidoscope of all these traditions and influences which I have just described.
Miss Koito has chosen a beautiful organ made by Johann Jakob Hörn (1736) in Wolfegg ( Germany) and restored by Hermann Weber in 2008 , This instrument which obviously cannot be compared to a Cavaillé-Coll, is ideally suited to this music. For the technically minded, the organ has been tuned for the occasion , using a mean-tone temperament after Lambert- Chaumont at a a’= 427 Hz Pitch.
The notes from the booklet provide ample details about this organ and the composers.
The organist ‘s highly individual style of playing seems to enhance the musical content of each piece being played. By paying close attention to detail and by adopting a balanced and supple approach which does not exclude being forceful and determined, Miss Koito brings the music to life in a most enlightening manner. As a result, the ricercari pieces breathe freely as it were, the ones with basso ostinato are played in a straightforward and incisive manner, true to the choreographic and orchestral spirit of this type of piece. In some respects, her style of playing is reminiscent of Andreas Staier’s on the harpsichord. However, far from playing in a demonstrative shallow manner to show off her superb technique, she explores each piece to the full in order to extract the essence and the spirit of the music. The more meditative pieces such as Von Himmel Hoch, by Pachelbel and Meditation by Froberger are particularly moving.
To make this a perfect recording, the sound engineers have surpassed themselves by capturing a sound which is so truthfully accurate that you could swear that someone has put an organ and an organist in your listening room to give you a private recital.
Yes, it’s that good ! Anyone after a recording with a real dynamic range and tonal instrumental accuracy for hifi demonstration purposes will be in for a treat!
You may have gathered by now that this cd is truly special and I sincerely hope that after reading this review, you will be tempted to buy this cd. You will not regret it. I promise you. ~ Germain Tonelle Amazon
01. Toccata in D Minor
02. Ciacona in D Minor
03. Toccata Prima
04. Fantasia in D Major (ex E-Flat Major)
05. Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her
06. Ricercar pro Festis Pentecostalibus
07. Chaconne in F Major
08. Toccata in G Minor
09. Ciacona in G Minor (ex F Minor)
10. Fantasia in C Major
11. Toccata in C Major
12. Ciacona in G Major
13. Passacaglia in D Minor
14. Ricercar in D Minor, FbWV 411
15. Prelude in E Minor
16. Fugue in E Minor
17. Canzona No. 5 in G Major, FbWV 305
18. Rigaudon & Rigaudon double
19. Passacaglia in D Minor
20. Méditation, FbWV 611a
21. Toccata Decima