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I don't know the middle set; you may have a good point. I was comparing the new one with the performances she recorded in the 60s (i.e., pre-HIP) for the Musical Heritage Society.
AFAIK, they were never re-released on cd.
My own 'Marie-Claire - Bach collection' begins around halfway the 70s, with a copy of her first recording of Die Kunst der Fuge
, which I got from a good organ friend.
From then on, her style did not change that much IMO. Maybe she just 'softened up' a bit from the late 80s on. Hence my preferences for the 2nd 'complete' set.
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Marie-Claire Alain´s first so called integral (recorded from 1959 - ca 1967) caused a rave when it was released. In Denmark we felt honoured because of her exclusive use of modern Danish organs (Marcussen, Frobenius). But looked upon through the retrospectrocope however I think the interpretation turns out to be rather shallow and stiff. It is certainly not without reason that it never was released on CD. M-C A has always been a brilliant organist, but her musicianship matured considerably during the following years, and the second integral (from ca. 1979) shows her at the peak of her powers. Her third integral (from late 1980es to mid 1990es) is rather good compared to many other integrals, but it has neither got the intensity nor the integrity of the second set, even if it from a historical point of view is played on more interesting instruments (Schnitger, Silbermann et.c.). Ideally one should own the second as well as the third integral, but for musical reasons the second is to prefer to the third, if one has got to choose.
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Wow. L@@K at the hits on this subject!
Lance G. Hill
When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]
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