Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

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Lance
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Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by Lance » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:58 pm

A long-time admirer of Karl Richter, I am happy to say DGG/Archiv has issued an 18-CD boxed set [482 0959] set of his superb all-Bach recordings. Here we find Richter as an organist, harpsichordist and conductor of his famous band and chorus. Among the repertoire, with lots of solo harpsichord and organ pieces is:

BACH
Goldberg Variations; Italian Concerto; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue; Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord (with Wolfgang Schneiderhan, violin), Concertos for 1,2,3 and 4 harpsichords; 6 solo organ concertos (stunning!), all the orchestral Suites (1-4) and six Brandenburg Concertos; Musical Offering; Partitas; concertos for other instruments with orchestra. The B Minor Mass includes vocalists Maria Stader, Hertha Topper, Ernst Haefliger, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Kieth Engen. As said, lots of shorter pieces with Richter harpsichordist or organists. Nice to have much of this material. Other instrumentalists include Aurele Nicolet, Adolf Scherbaum, Hedwig Bilgram and others.
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Ted Quanrud
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:36 pm

Sorry, Lance, I cannot agree. This is still old-school Bach. The next generation - Harnoncourt, Leonhardt and more recently, Gardiner and Suzuki - have brought us closer to I what believe Bach expected and actually heard.

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by John F » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:57 am

Notions of period performance are constantly changing. Karl Richter's recordings, some of them made for DG's Archiv label, were thought at the time to be correct as to period style, possibly excepting his use of a very large chorus. If you want to hear real old school Bach (you probably don't), there's RCA Victor's recording of the St. Matthew Passion by the Boston Symphony and Serge Koussevitzky, or Willem Mengelberg's Amsterdam performance.
Ted Quanrud wrote:The next generation - Harnoncourt, Leonhardt and more recently, Gardiner and Suzuki - have brought us closer to I what believe Bach expected and actually heard.
That must be conjectural to some degree in the absence of sound documents, but even if so, the essential question is not what Bach may have expected and heard - he famously complained to the Leipzig town council that the singers and musicians available to him at the Thomaskirche weren't good and numerous enough - but what we want to hear. If you want to hear the current crop of period performers - who, by the way, differ considerably among themselves - that's fine; if Lance wants to hear Karl Richter's recordings, that's also fine.
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:59 pm

I "learned" the Christmas Oratorio and B minor Mass from Richter's recordings before performing them with David Randolph in Carnegie Hall in my twenties. Now I listen to smaller groups on recordings, and miss the massed power of the larger chorus in the more dramatic moments. Richter may be out of fashion, yet I wonder if Bach would have been quite taken with larger forces performing his music.

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by John F » Sat Mar 12, 2016 1:13 pm

Karl Richter's DG Archiv recording of the Christmas Oratorio was Sviatoslav Richter's favorite Christmas listening. He'd invite friends to his apartment to listen with him. For me, that's the Karl Richter recording I can't do without, and I gave it to my father one Christmas. Forget about so-called authenticity, I want women in the chorus and the finest male and female soloists there are, and Richter gives us that: Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Fritz Wunderlich, and Franz Crass. Wonderful!
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by premont » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:30 pm

Lance wrote:A long-time admirer of Karl Richter, I am happy to say DGG/Archiv has issued an 18-CD boxed set [482 0959] set of his superb all-Bach recordings. Here we find Richter as an organist, harpsichordist and conductor of his famous band and chorus.
I have acquired the box because of the participation of Wolfgang Schneiderhan.
Other than that I am not a great fan of Karl Richter's sewing-machine instrumental style.
And his IMO best Bach recordings, which are his first recordings of the St. Matthew Passion and the St Johns Passion (both with Ernst Häfliger singing the evangelist) are not even included in the box.

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by josé echenique » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:57 pm

Richter`s Christmas Oratorio quartet has never been matched, that´s a tough act to follow, but Eugen Jochum also had a fine quartet in Elly Ameling, Brigitte Fassbaender, Horst Laubenthal and Hermann Prey [Laubenthal though, not quite in the level]. René Jacobs also has a superb quartet in Dorothea Röschmann, Andreas Scholl, Werener Güra and Klaus Häger.

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by Lance » Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:06 pm

Sorry to hear you say this, Ted. I know that things change in what is "for real" regarding musical interpretations. Today, even Wanda Landowska is pooh-poohed for her recordings on her iron-framed Pleyel harpsichord, which I had the pleasure of playing. It is, nonetheless, the musicianship that I am most concerned about. I suppose Bach's WTC (the "48") for purists should only be performed on the period instruments of Bach's time. Thankfully, most of Bach's keyboard music for harpsichord of clavichord is played on the modern piano, but I can also enjoy harpsichord performances. Karl Richter may be considered passé by today's standards, but in my view his music-making was and remains top drawer. His choral works come alive to my ears and are most enjoyable. I have great respect for what Gardiner has done with Bach's music as well. Either way, both will have their camps.
Ted Quanrud wrote:Sorry, Lance, I cannot agree. This is still old-school Bach. The next generation - Harnoncourt, Leonhardt and more recently, Gardiner and Suzuki - have brought us closer to I what believe Bach expected and actually heard.
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by maestrob » Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:33 pm

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Just bought this glorious set for $34 on Amazon: that's less than what I paid for the LP of just the Christmas Oratorio in the 1970's!

"Modern" (HIP) interpretations of Bach are fine to my ears, but Richter is how I first became familiar with that great composer, and I doubt I'll ever lose my taste for larger choruses either.

premont
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by premont » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:39 am

Lance wrote: Today, even Wanda Landowska is pooh-poohed for her recordings on her iron-framed Pleyel harpsichord, which I had the pleasure of playing. It is, nonetheless, the musicianship that I am most concerned about. .. Karl Richter may be considered passé by today's standards, but in my view his music-making was and remains top drawer.
It is interesting, that you mention Landowska and Richter in the same breath, because their harpsichord styles were entirely different, indeed two opposite poles. The only common denominator was, that they played in a heavy-handed way on ugly sounding instruments. Other than that I agree, that their musicianship should be judged leaving this fact out of consideration.

Landowska excelled in "romantic" dwelling, while Richter was one of the most "mechanical" players the world has seen. They created each in their own way a very monochrome picture of Bach's music.

Karl Richter's importance as a choral conductor however cannot be denied.

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by Lance » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:19 am

You said it very well! I guess Landowska wanted the cast-iron framed harpsichords because of the volume they offered. Pleyel, of course, held a huge presence with regard to the manufacture of keyboard instruments. I wonder what she would think of the 'electronic' harpsichords that many musicians use in concert, especially when they are used as continuo instruments with orchestra. One thing is for sure, the electronic instruments do not have to tuned (the period instruments rarely held a tune for long anyway), and one has the ability to change the pitch from Baroque period to present-day pitch.
premont wrote:
Lance wrote: Today, even Wanda Landowska is pooh-poohed for her recordings on her iron-framed Pleyel harpsichord, which I had the pleasure of playing. It is, nonetheless, the musicianship that I am most concerned about. .. Karl Richter may be considered passé by today's standards, but in my view his music-making was and remains top drawer.
It is interesting, that you mention Landowska and Richter in the same breath, because their harpsichord styles were entirely different, indeed two opposite poles. The only common denominator was, that they played in a heavy-handed way on ugly sounding instruments. Other than that I agree, that their musicianship should be judged leaving this fact out of consideration.

Landowska excelled in "romantic" dwelling, while Richter was one of the most "mechanical" players the world has seen. They created each in their own way a very monochrome picture of Bach's music.

Karl Richter's importance as a choral conductor however cannot be denied.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:29 am

Speaking of Landowska, I recently watched Wuthering Heights for the umpteenth time, with Olivier & Merle Oberon, and noticed in a ballroom scene that there was a woman playing Mozart's Turkish March on a harpsichord, and the camera panned briefly to the keyboard, which read "Pleyel." No credit was given to the musician in the screen credits, but I'm sure it was Landowska. Can anyone confirm this for me?

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by John F » Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:13 pm

Landowska lived in France until 1940, and "Wuthering Heights" was produced in 1938 and released in March 1939. In the movie, the player is named as "Madame Ehlers," and apparently that was her real name: Alice Ehlers, Landowska's first pupil (in Berlin starting in 1913), who had just come to America in 1938.

http://forward.com/the-assimilator/1374 ... arpsichor/

Sorry!
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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:19 am

Thanks, John. Knew I could rely on you for a fact check! :D

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Re: Karl Richter's "Revealing Bach" DGG-Archiv set

Post by John F » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:55 am

maestrob wrote:Thanks, John. Knew I could rely on you for a fact check! :D
Shucks, nothin' to it, thanks to Google. :) It's surprising that she wasn't given a fictional name in the movie, or that having been named onscreen, she wasn't named in the credits.
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