J.S. Bach Clavierübung III

J.S. Bach Clavierübung III

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Malcolm Proud

Clavier Übung III

Malcolm Proud - Organ

Recorded February 2008 in the Stadtkirche, Stein am Rhein
on a Metzler Organ

“Clavier Übung III is a series of profound meditations on the central doctrines of Lutheran faith, written with all the traditional expressive and communicative musical means of which Bach was the greatest master. It is the summit of his achievement as an improviser and composer of chorale-based organ works, and as such has never been equalled, let alone surpassed.”

„Im dritten Teil der Clavierübung finden wir eine Antwort auf die alte Frage, ob Bach seine umfangreiche Kirchenmusik aus einer tiefen religiösen Überzeugung heraus schrieb oder ob sie schlicht aufgrund seiner fast lebenslangen Tätigkeit als Kirchenmusiker, Organist und Kantor entstanden ist. Einen äusseren Beweggrund für die Komposition der Clavierübung III gab es nicht: Es handelte sich weder um eine Verpflichtung im Rahmen seiner Anstellung noch um eine Auftragsarbeit. Die Widmung gilt einzig 'denen Liebhabern, und besonders denen Kennern von dergleichen Arbeit’. Tatsächlich handelt es sich jedoch um tiefe Meditationen über zentrale lutherische Dogmen unter Verwendung traditioneller musikalischer Symbolik, die Bach wie kein anderer beherrschte. In diesem Werk erreicht er als Improvisator und Komponist choralgebundener Orgelwerke den Höhepunkt seines Könnens und bleibt darin bis heute unübertroffen, ja sogar unerreicht.“

From the linernotes by David Ledbetter

His first reaction :
“It all sounds and looks absolutely magnificent, the organ the presentation and specially the playing! Organs are horribly difficult to record, but this has both presence and clarity. The registrations are great, I particularly liked “Diess sind” (track 6). The programme too has a superb logic, not frilled out with little 'contrasters'. The playing of course is superb, with Malcolm's complete control, and shows a rare knowledge of Bach's music as a whole, anything but the usual 'organisty' approach. The Kyries move without losing meditative quality, not many can do that. It's all a triumph for Maya recordings and I'm delighted to have been able to be a small part of it.”

Michael Dervan, Irish Times, 29.August 2008

Malcolm Proud is an unfussy musician. If he were a chef, there would be little in the way of fancy nouvelle cuisine presentation. If he were an actor, there wouldn't be much in the way of histrionics. But Proud is also something of a musical visionary. His steady vision allows him to communicate music with an unusual sense of inevitability, giving the impression that he has captured and can convey the essence of what he's playing with unusual fixity. That's what he does in this 68-minute selection of 12 pieces from the third part of Bach's Clavierübung, played on the Metzler organ of the Stadtkirche in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland. The manner may be unassuming, but the rewards in music as great as Bach's are rich.

J.S.Bach: Clavierübung III. Malcolm Proud, organist.

A former student of Gustav Leonhardt, Dublin native Malcolm Proud is active as both a harpsichordist and an organist. His natural affinity for early music is readily evident in these excellent performances of excerpts from Bach's Clavierübung III. Proud has chosen to present the large choral settings with pedal (ten works) framed by the Prelude and Fugue in E flat. His readings are distinguished for their stylistic integrity, conservative, unhurried , sensible tempos, clear pronounced articulation that defines motivic and phrase structure without calling attention to itself, solid yet fluid rhythm , and well-chosen registrations. Proud combines technical control with musical sensitivity. To cite but two examples. he plays the plenum of Wir glauben all' an einen Gott, BWV680, in a detached style that gives strength and solemnity. In Jesus Christus unser Heiland, he navigates the notorious leaps with well-placed agogic accents. The instrument , located in a favourable acoustic , is an ideal vehicle , with its clarity, transparency from bottom to top, incisive , balanced, and bold voicing, and pleasing colour. An added bonus is the fine essay (in English, German and French) by David Ledbetter, which addresses Bach's musical-religious philosophies, particularly those concerning numerology and symbolism. Though this is not a complete presentation of Bach's great essay on the chorale, it is beautifully performed, and a fine representation of current performance practice.
The American Organist , October 2009