O.Messiaen, Des Canyons aux Étoiles...,
Myung Whung Chung / French RPO
J.S.Bach, Complete-complete Organ Works,
Messiaen and Bavarian morning-meat behind me, I have the massive cpo box of Bach's complete organ works in front of me... and when they mean complete, they mean complete! The series collects all that was written for the Queen of instruments by Bach proper and apocryphal works, combining 21 individual volumes on 22 CDs into one solid two-inch thick box. Gerhard Weinberger, who also wrote the notes (apparently only in English, but perhaps that's because I have the edition distributed in North American), plays mostly on 18th century instruments in Saxony and Thuringia to get as close to the sound that Bach probably had mind (and his ears) when composing (and playing) these works. Weinberger ends with "Die Kunst der Fuge", which was recently released as volume 21 of the series. Weinberger doesn't aim for bombast (near-impossible, with the instruments he plays, anyway), and he is not the most impressive in the 'biggest hits' works. The organ on volume 20 (Carl Christian Hofmann Organ, St.Marien Mecterstädt, 1770) is tuned in a way that cannot please my ears and Die Kunst der Fuge I have heard more to my liking, elsewhere. But apart from those quibbles regarding the last three of 22 CDs, it is a magnificent set taking, among complete sets, pride of place in my collection.
A small detail that delighted me very much: the über-famous Toccata & Fugue in d (BWV 565) is actually, honestly included on one of the "Works of doubtful authenticity" (a euphemism for "not by Bach") discs (v.19). I'm not quite sure why I like that factoid so much… perhaps because this forces us to loosen our standards and categories of "great" and makes us acknowledge how we selectively listen to music because of the tags attached to it?