TODD FICKLEY

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THE BACH PROJECT - VOL.2

THE BACH PROJECT - VOL.2

Complete Organ Works

Johann Sebastian Bach

TODD FICKLEY, organ
Laurenskerk | Rotterdam
The Netherlands

HAUPTWERK: MARCUSSEN & SON (1973)

[MS1562]

$12.95

LISTEN
REVIEWS
"fine playing [by] Todd Fickley... It is clean, stylish, assured and always engaging... If these performances of familiar masterworks of Bach were the only ones you ever heard, you nevertheless would gain an excellent picture of the composer's mastery"
The American Organist [July 2016]
“I reviewed the first volume [of The Bach Project] back in 2015 and found it quite an impressive initial offering... Fickley again demonstrates that he is not only a dependable Bach keyboardist but a subtle and sensitive one as well… His voicing and contrapuntal lines are always clear, his digital work here and in the Fugue nimble and masterly... [His account of the Ein Feste Burg and Nun Danket Alle Gott Chorales are] intelligently phrased throughout, nicely revealing the greater subtlety of the latter piece. The Trio Sonata (BWV 526) gets a brilliant performance from Fickley... The rest of the program here is presented with the same skill, the same scrupulous attention to detail and the same technical assurance. [The 1973 Marcussen & Son organ] has a magnificent sound, and it appears once again to be captured brilliantly via the Hauptwerk technology... The sound reproduction by MSR Classics is vivid and well balanced and the album notes by Fickley are very informative. Strongly recommended.”
Robert Cummings, Classical Net [September 2016]
“Judging from the first volume and the one under review, this new project dedicated to J S Bach's complete organ works promises to be one of the recording industry's highlights in the years to come... American organist Todd Fickley, although still relatively young, has a wealth of experience of this repertoire, and his performances have regaled audiences for more than the last fifteen years... [the Marcussen & Son organ gives] the soloist full scope to express not only his amazing virtuosity, but also the profundity of Bach's compositions. Fickley's previous Bach forays have come in for some rave reviews, and this latest venture is no less deserving of the highest praise. Indeed, this is some of the most absorbing Bach playing you can ever come across. An inspired undertaking that will surely rank with the last twenty-five years' best recordings in the genre.”
Gerald Fenech, Music & Vision [July 2016]
“...the [Marcussen] organ’s tone is gentle, though full organ is not lacking in majestic power. The individual registers have a remarkably refined tone heard to good advantage here in the lighter registrations of the trio sonata and Schübler Chorales... [Fickley] gives us remarkably persuasive performances of Trio Sonata 2 and the A-minor Concerto after Vivaldi. The light registrations and bouncy articulation of the outer movements of the trio sonata impart a personality of chamber music that I consider indispensable for these works… The chorale preludes display some of the exquisite solo registers of the Marcussen organ.”
Gaten, American Record Guide [July/August, 2016]
“...arranged with a keen eye to diversity of repertoire. This makes for good listening throughout, with scarcely a dull spot – assuming that any 70 minutes of any one subgenre within Bach’s organ music could possibly sound dull to the inclined listener. It’s expert, beautiful, broad, impressive playing… glorious and forward, crisp, clean and neat and ear-all-encompassing stuff. Part of that is no doubt thanks to the instrument.”
Jens Laursen, MusicWeb International [May 2016]
"Fickley’s performances are again fine, historically aware..."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [March 2016]
“What we have [here] is as optimal an account of the music as artistry and science can give us... On this Volume 2, Fickley presents an unusually well-balanced program.”
Phil Muse, Audio Club of Atlanta [March 2016]
PROGRAM NOTES
The first volume of The Bach Project was recorded using Hauptwerk technology on a restored 1721 Dutch organ with the intent that future volumes would explore many other instruments. As Bach played on both old, and new innovative instruments of various organ building schools during his career, it seemed only fitting to record this second volume using the more recent, historically-inspired, Dutch 1973 Marcussen & Son organ. This very large tracker organ was recorded at a distance of about 50 feet (15 meters) in order to effectively capture the spacious reverb of up to six seconds. The liner notes for The Bach Project, Volume 1, describe the Hauptwerk recording process in detail. To reiterate briefly, it is a way to perform on world-heritage organs; however, the organs are recorded in their entirety before the performance. All sounds being heard are the actual organ and not a simulation, nor is it the recording of a “digital instrument.” Even the very rattles and squeaks of a mechanical action organ are recorded in detail.

MARCUSSEN & SON ORGAN (1973)
Laurenskerk | Rotterdam, The Netherlands

This large gothic church in Rotterdam, begun in the 15th century, was completed in 1525. However, the church and its organ were completely destroyed during the fire-bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940. The large organ which one hears in the church today was built by Marcussen & Son in 1973. The organ case was designed by the architect J.W. Besemer. The instrument is based on a 32-foot pedal, and consists of six divisions: Rugwerk, Hoofdwerk, Bovenwerk, Borstwerk, Chamadewerk and Pedaal. A completely mechanical organ with 85 speaking stops and approximately 7600 pipes, it is said to be the largest purely mechanical organ in Europe. An optional Barker mechanism can be switched on by a foot lever to help the organist when all the manuals are coupled together. However, the full instrument can be operated without this device very well.

One striking feature of the instrument is its multi-rank Principal stops. Practically all the Principals and Octaves 16’, 8’, 4’ of all the divisions are made of more than one unison sounding rank. I have heard this special feature in some Spanish organs, and it makes the sound of the Principal chorus considerably wider and deeper than usual. The timbre becomes characteristically rich, which cannot be achieved easily with a conventional single-rank Principal. For Hauptwerk recording, this constitutes a special challenge, since the “chorus effect” of the pipes, which are often not exactly in tune, makes looping really difficult. Only very long samples (around 9-11 seconds) are usable for the virtual model of the organ. Another noteworthy feature is the composition of the mixtures which have an unusually high number of ranks as well. The Cimbal on the Bovenwerk is remarkable for its neo-baroque composition including a quart and a sext.

A beta tester comments: “This is a remarkably colorful and beautiful organ whose sound is surprisingly gentle. None of the voicing feels harsh or pushed. Instead, we get double-rank principal stops and large mixtures with many ranks of gently-voiced pipework that result in a natural, unforced sound. In fuller ensembles, the organ roars, but it never screams - even when the chamades are playing. The sound remains beautiful and comfortable even when played for several hours in headphones.”


Born in Washington, D.C., organist Todd Fickley began his studies at the Washington National Cathedral under Bruce Neswick. At age 23, he was made a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and holds the AGO Choirmaster Diploma. He also earned a Master of Arts in Organ Performance with High Distinction from the University of Wales. For many years, Fickley taught and prepared choirs of all ages using the Royal School of Church Music system for the performance of repertoire ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passions and Cantatas to annual Nine Lessons and Carols programs. A prize-winning organist, Fickley has performed across the United States and in Israel and Europe, and has been featured on NPR and PRI radio programs. In 2014, he launched The Bach Project, a cycle of concert performances and recordings of the complete organ works of Bach—the first such undertaking in the Washington D.C. region in nearly a quarter century. The first volume of this cycle was recently released on the MSR Classics label and was praised in Fanfare Magazine as “some of the most enthralling Bach organ playing you are likely to hear anywhere by anyone.” Fickley also frequently appears as conductor, accompanist, and speaker in the Washington metro region. Fickley holds Organist and Assistant Conductor positions with the National Cathedral Choral Society, the Choralis Foundation, The Falls Church Anglican, and the Washington Bach Consort with whom he has been performing for more than 15 years. [ www.toddfickley.com ]
 
PROGRAM
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
PRELUDE AND FUGUE IN C MAJOR, BWV 545

Chorale: EIN’ FESTE BURG IST UNSER GOTT, BWV 720

Chorale: NUN DANKET ALLE GOTT, BWV 657 (“LEIPZIG” CHORALE NO.7)

TRIO SONATA NO.2 IN C MINOR, BWV 526

Chorale: VON GOTT WILL ICH NICHT LASSEN, BWV 658 (“LEIPZIG” NO.8)

CONCERTO IN A MINOR, BWV 593
(after Vivaldi: Concerto for Two Violins and Strings in A minor, Op.3, No.8)

SECHS CHORÄLE VON VERSCHIEDENER ART (“SCHÜBLER” CHORALES)
Chorale No.1: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Chorale No.2: Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 646
Chorale No.3: Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, BWV 647
Chorale No.4: Meine Seele erhebet den Herren, BWV 648
Chorale No.5: Ach, bleib’ bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 649
Chorale No.6: Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel, BWV 650

TOCCATA AND FUGUE IN F MAJOR, BWV 540
 



MSR Classics
THE BACH PROJECT - VOL.1
THE BACH PROJECT - VOL.1
Complete Organ Works TODD FICKLEY

[MS1561]