JS BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE & PACHELBELKomm Susser Tod
Pachelbel: Canon, Chorale Preludes & Chaconne
Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel
BARBARA HARBACH, organ
J.S. Bach – Art of the Fugue
FISK ORGAN, OPUS 83 
Downtown United Presbyterian Church
Rochester, New York
FISK ORGAN, OPUS 95 
Slee Hall at the State University of Buffalo
Buffalo, New York State
"Harbach gives a towering performance of Bach's pieces, while her Pachelbel has a rich and colourful palette that gives these works their unique and distinct timbre"
Gerald Fenech, Music&Vision [February 2016]
“[Harbach's] thorough professionalism makes the performances worth hearing.”
Haskins, American Record Guide [January/February 2015]
“...wonderful, commanding performances by Harbach on truly grand-sounding organs and imposing-sounding recordings. Strongly recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [November/December 2014]
“ [ * * * * ] The arguments over Bach’s Art of Fugue will never end; what was it for, what instrument should it be played on, should it be completed, on and on it goes... So which instrument? It seems to me obvious that the most practical and comprehensive instrument to be found for such an undertaking is right here on this recording. Only an organ can loftily cover all the demands of this piece, and it greatly expands the idea of color and registration within the confines of one person’s imagination. I have heard many worthy contenders on other instruments and for other combinations, but the organ remains the most convincing... What about the ending? This has perplexed artists for years, especially as the original manuscript version does have an ending, fully in place ten years before the published version. But evidence shows that Bach was not content with the work, revising it, and finally dying before the last quadruple fugue was completed... The sudden cutoff, so profoundly a reminder of genius stopped, adds a pathetic dimension of great emotion and drama, and I am happy that Harbach does that here. This is an excellent reading of this work done with thoughtfulness and a lot of passion... The Pachelbel works...serve as a nice come-down from the fugal complexities and utter perfection of the Bach. The famous Canon is nicely presented... The two Chaconnes are fine works, very involved and dramatic, the D-minor of an exquisite fiery sensibility that Pachelbel nonetheless keeps under control. He is best known for his chorale preludes, and these thirteen selections show why; an ever-inventive nature that is able to wed seasonal requirements to music that is fully descriptive and yet brilliantly independent make for enthralling listening on a number of levels. The tonal characteristics of the Fisk organ offer lots of opportunities for experimentation and a truly crisp presentation of these works. The engineers have captured both venues very well, and Harbach is to be congratulated on a fine offering.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [July 2014]
“[this is] a new digital remastering of Gasparo Records material, and it is quite well done both technically and musically. Harbach has a fine sense of the shaping of Bach’s The Art of Fugue, choosing registrations carefully and allowing the music to move from the delicate to the sinewy and back. She plays with sureness, understanding and a strong sense of Bach’s style, using well-chosen tempos and allowing the various fugal lines to emerge, blend and subside with what feels like inevitability... the other, less-familiar material in this two-CD set is equally well played and equally intriguing, albeit in different ways. There is a veritable plethora of Pachelbel here, and it is very, very welcome indeed, since for most listeners Pachelbel has been reduced to a single super-well-known canon [The Pachelbel] from the familiar to the very unfamiliar indeed, is wonderful in its own right, played with high skill and considerable understanding, and a notable addition to the collection of any listener interested in the highest reaches of the high Baroque.”
Mark Estren, InfoDad [July 2014]
PROGRAM NOTESJohann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of Fugue and his organ chorale “Before Thy Throne I Stand,” like Mozart’s Requiem, have left posterity with questions that seem to defy final answers. An aura of mysticism surrounds these works, left incomplete as death overtook the composer whose writing had given way to apocryphal sketches.
The very appearance of the Art of Fugue seems enigmatic because, in the manner of Haydn’s string quartets – having originated at about the same time – its score notation is laid out in four independent parts, here, however, not assigned to any specific instruments (a reason why various forms of instrumentation were suggested in later ages). A world separates these works by Bach and Haydn – a world into which the Viennese master was to enter more and more in the course of his long life. For the open-score notation implied nothing but Bach’s strict sense of polyphony, a sense of polyphony associated with the tradition of the great organ masters: the Art of Fugue, like works in similar notation by Frescobaldi, unequivocally implies performance at the keyboard. Bach chose open-score notation for his keyboard music in later years because in these works – the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel Hoch, the so-called Schübler Chorales, and the Art of Fugue – he sought to explore the last secrets of contrapuntal art.
Nor is the Art of Fugue in reality incomplete. There are two versions of the work: the printed edition issued in 1751, shortly after Bach’s death, probably under the supervision of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Bach’s autograph which dates back to a period of as much as possibly ten years prior to the printing. Thus the Art of Fugue is not that for which it is generally taken, namely Bach’s final work; and, as the painstaking research of the eminent Bach scholar Christoph Wolff has shown, the early autograph version renders the work in what was evidently a complete form. The incomplete appearance of the printed edition is explained by the fact that Bach, as in so many cases, was not totally satisfied with the finished work. It became unfinished because he proceeded to revise it through extensive additions, partly in merely sketched form.
Johann Pachelbel has made the strongest mark in our popular musical imagination with his famousCanon. During his lifetime, however, Pachelbel was best known as an organist; all of his professional engagements involved that instrument. His first position was at the Protestant Predigerkirche at Erfurt, where he served from 1678 to 1690. After two rather shorter posts in Stuttgart and Gotha, he became organist at St. Sebald’s in Nuremberg in 1695. The circumstances of the appointment itself were remarkable. Pachelbel’s renown was so great that the Nuremberg church authorities simply wrote inviting him to accept the position without the customary examination or competition with other organists. He stayed at this post until his death.
Of course, we also know Pachelbel as one of the composers reported to have been important to Johann Sebastian Bach. Indeed, Pachelbel taught Johann Sebastian’s elder brother Johann Christoph of Ohrdruf, and Christoph in turn saw to the younger Bach’s musical instruction when he became the boy’s guardian. It is precisely this connection to Bach that has adversely affected Pachelbel (as it has Buxtehude, Reincken, Vivaldi, Couperin, and others): Bach’s extraordinary fame has made it more difficult for us to see the older composer’s compositional gifts in their proper historical context.
Pachelbel’s largest contribution to organ music is his chorale settings, which demonstrate his familiarity with both old and contemporary styles. During his time at Erfurt, Pachelbel was expected both to prepare chorale preludes beforehand (and not improvise them) for the church services, and every year on the anniversary of his appointment he was obliged to present a recital that would
display the organ “in delightful and euphonious harmony.” Scholars have generally assumed that Pachelbel created his numerous chorale-based works in order to fulfill these conditions of his contract. As far as the composer’s non-liturgical organ compositions are concerned, his variation sets – and, in particular, his ciaconnas – hold an important place.
Barbara Harbach, professor of music at the University of Missouri−St. Louis, has a large catalog of works, including; symphonies, operas, string orchestra, musicals, works for chamber ensembles, film scores, modern ballets, pieces for organ, harpsichord and piano; choral anthems; and many arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Encore Music Publishers, Art of Sound Music, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach serves as editor of the WomenArts Quarterly Journal.
Harbach has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist throughout the United States and Canada, and overseas in Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Romania, Serbia and Russian Siberia. Her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers. The body of work written for and dedicated to Harbach is substantial. Musical America has called her “nothing short of brilliant,” and Gramophone has cited her as an “acknowledged interpreter – and, indeed, muse – of modern harpsichord music.” She was host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance seen throughout the Inland Northwest.
Harbach holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (B.A.), Yale University (M.M.A.), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A.). In 2002, she received an honorary doctorate in music, Honoris Causa, from Wilmington College, Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher.
[ www.barbaraharbach.com ]
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
THE ART OF FUGUE, BWV 1080 [DIE KUNST DER FUGE]
Contrapunctus XVI Rectus
Contrapunctus XVI Inversus
Contrapunctus XVII Rectus
Contrapunctus XVII Inversus
KOMM SÜSSER TOD, BWV 478
JOHANN PACHELBEL (1653-1706)
CANON IN D [Arr.: S. Drummond Wolff]
CHACONNE IN F
VON DER GEBURT CHRISTI
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her
LOB – UND DANKLIED
Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren (Psalm 103)
VON DER BUßE
Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder
VON DER MENSCHWERDUNG CHRISTI
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
VOM HEILIGEN ABENDMAHL
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns
IN ALLEGEMEINER LANDESNOT
Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
An Wasserflüssen Babylon (Psalm 137)
VOM CHRISTLICHEN LEBEN UND WANDEL
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christi
VOM WORTE GOTTE UND DER CHRISTLICHEN KIRCHE
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (Psalm 46)
Wie Schön leuchet der Morgenstern
VON DER HIMMELFAHRT CHRISTI
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein
CHACONNE IN D
HARBACH VOL.13: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC V
Expressions for Orchestra BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.5: VOCAL MUSIC
HARBACH VOL.12: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC IV
Symphonic Storytelling BARBARA HARBACH
Music for Violin, Cello and Organ BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.10: CHAMBER MUSIC V
Soprano, Violin, Piano & Chamber Orchestra BARBARA HARBACH
J.S. BACH: ORGAN MUSIC
SOLER: HARPSICHORD SONATAS 1-120
Padre Samuel Rubio Edition BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.9: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC II
Symphonies, Soundings & Celebrations BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.8: CHAMBER MUSIC IV
Strings, Winds, Brass, Piano & Soprano BARBARA HARBACH