Struck by Bach


★★★★★ Bach on the Organ, June 22, 2001

Amazon Reviewer: A music fan


What? Just 2 reviews?? I’ve had this set for close to 4 years. Where do I start….. To tell the story of Bach and the organ, I must start at the beginning. I harbor no pretext of being an authority at all, in fact I really didn’t know Bach till a few years ago.

One day, I chanced to buy a CD with an assortment of classical music. I did that once every so often, since classical CD’s are so cheap. I slipped it into my car not knowing at all what I’d just stumbled on. The second piece on this CD was music of an order I had not yet before encountered. To boot, I had just installed a new subwoofer in the car. Then this organ piece comes on.

My friends. From that moment, I was a different person. It didn’t hit me as hard initially, but I couldn’t let go of this stupendous work of such magnificence. For days on end, I would play this one piece of organ music. Treasuring it as a jewel. I couldn’t get over how grand, how utterly wonderful this work was, from every single note to it’s entire whole. I’ve always enjoyed music, but this was something else. It made me feel miniscule. How could anyone…. I’m a financial consultant, and gosh did this make me feel worthless. Alright, I’ll let you know which it was –Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Dorian) for the organ. Not even one of Bach’s major pieces. This was Miklos Spanyi on organ who did this. Marie-Claire does a good job on this set, but I had heard it first on the other recording, and you know it’s never as good as the first time.

Brethren, this wasn’t the end. After a few weeks of listening to this, I kid you not, I would break down like a child when I played it. Sobbing and crying. Weeping uncontrollably. I’m a grown man, but it happened. I could not understand. I could not remember breaking down this way, so violently, since I was young boy. I am not a sop at all, one of those guys with a soft feminine side……, no, no. This is what Bach can do to you.

I was listening to angels. I could see them. No way I’ll write my full name here in case this gets out. If I listened to it in the car, I would have to stop when Bach’s counterpoints started their agonizing attacks of sheer splendor. I would stop the car on the side of the road, racked in sobs. I stopped listening to it in the morning going to work because my eyes would be red when I got into the office. In oblivion, driving home one night I did get a speeding ticket.

I would be convulsing in anguish. As the Toccata builds to its end, Bach brings your pitiful soul through a wavy staircase lined with golden crescendos that don’t seem to end. He then takes your wretched spirit, once strong, but piteous in the face of such perfection, and places it on the doorstep of the Fugue. At this grand entrance on the cadence, at this very point I would invariably be out of control, bawling like a babe.

It was then I needed to see who this Bach was. Then I see a complete set of Bach Organ Works by a renowned organist. I was trembling when I got the set. It’s about 3 years now, and I have since learned how to control myself. I am sorry I talk about Bach’s organ and his effect on me, but please, I was just describing one gem. This is the collection. Buy it and be immersed in wonder.

There is good literature that goes with the set. If you are looking for sentiment and give up a little bit of quality, you’ll notice some difference. The recordings are excellent, but the idea of this grand project was to have it on a baroque organ, sounding like it would back then.

They do mention the need for the organist to have to coax and cajole the instrument, unlike the modern electronic machines. The recordings are on a restored organ, which at first made me a little disappointed, but after a while you realize it presents the organist’s talent quite a bit more. I also love hearing the slight sounds of the stops in the background – just that added sense of needing to be on earth before reaching glory.

Thank you Alain