Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706)
Organ Jewels of the 17th Century
Toccata in e minor [1:45]
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund [2:08]
Christus, der ist mein Leben [6:20]
Von Himmel Hoch, da komm ich her [4:38]
Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott [3:42]
Ricercar in c minor [5:20]
Hexachordum Apollinis : Aria Sebaldina in f minor [6:35]
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern [3:20]
Vater unser im Himmelreich [2:48]
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (Chorale) [4:26]
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig in f minor [6:35]
Bernard Lagacé (organ)
rec. St. Bonaventure de Rosemont, Montreal, Canada, 1 March 1971. ADD
2xHD 2XHDJD1033 [50:16]
Download only: reviewed in lossless format from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, NO booklet, but see below).
Pachelbel’s Canon has caught the musical public’s imagination,
especially that of ClassicFM listeners, to such an extent that you could
easily think it was his only work of value: there’s even an RCA CD entitled
Pachelbel’s Greatest Hit on which it receives a variety of performances.
This recording of his organ music joins a list of CDs which demonstrate
why such a belief is untenable. With excellent performances from the
recent past by a distinguished organist, very well refurbished, it serves
as an excellent introduction to his prolific keyboard output. I’m not
sure of the provenance of this new 2xHD refurbishment of a set of 1971
recordings, though Bernard Lagacé made a number of distinguished recordings
of the likes of Couperin which were released in the UK on the Oryx and
Calliope labels and subsequently on Analekta CDs. I believe that this
recording was released on an Arion LP which was never available in the
UK. The notes speak of both 15 i.p.s. tape and LP sources.
The only reason not to give an outright recommendation is that you may
well wish to go on to investigate Pachelbel’s considerable output via
the 5-CD set released last year as Volume 1 of his organ music, on the
CPO label, which Johan van Veen made a Recording of the Month (777 556-2
There’s also a Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm series of recordings
of his music underway: Volume 2, combining organ and harpsichord music
was also praised by Johan van Veen – review.
I’ve no quarrel with 2xHD’s description of the music as ‘jewels’ but
they aren’t the only ones in the box.
Most of the music here is liturgical in nature, consisting of organ
preludes appropriate to a particular season like the more familiar Bach
chorale preludes. The opening Toccata and the two central works,
the Ricercar and Aria Sebaldina, however, are secular.
The Aria is the final movement of the Hexachordum Apollinis
(1699), a work equally at home on the organ and the harpsichord and
described as such in the first edition. There’s a recording of the
complete Hexachordum by John Butt on Harmonia Mundi from around
1990, one of the earliest albums made by a performer whose Bach Passions
and Well-tempered Klavier on Linn have since been hailed in all
quarters. HMU907029, download only – available from
eclassical.com, mp3 and lossless, stream from Qobuz:
NO booklet from either.
Butt plays the music on a modern copy of a North German organ of the
time. Though Pachelbel hailed from further South, that may seem more
appropriate than Lagacé’s French-style instrument, but as the Hexachordum
requires light registration, it’s of little importance. His performance
is bright and attractive; though it’s faster than Butt’s on paper, the
difference is less apparent in the hearing and I enjoyed listening to
The chorale preludes receive equally adept performances. You may well
recognize the underlying chorales of the better-known examples such
as the Easter Christ lag in Todesbanden. 2xHD label track 10
as O Lamm Gottes (choir) but no choir is involved; Lagacé plays
the chorale tune ahead of the prelude on the same theme which follows
on the final track.
You would hardly think that the recording dated from 1971, though it’s
very naughty of some dealers – not 2xHD themselves who clearly proclaim
the word ‘analog’ or eclassical.com – to describe it as a ‘native DSD’
production: it’s ADD. It’s hardly inferior to the Harmonia Mundi of
twenty years later, especially as heard in lossless sound. The mp3,
too, is good of its kind.
There’s a booklet of notes from Qobuz
and offered free by 2xHD
– none from eclassical.com – but it’s pretty rudimentary. Surely it’s
mandatory for an organ recording to list the specification of the instrument
if not the registration of individual pieces? It would have been good,
too, to know which of the many settings Pachelbel made of most of these
chorale preludes is played here: it can’t be just boring old reviewers
who like to know which is which, as on the CPO recording where the POP
numbers are given.
For all my complaints about the lack of the booklet and its inadequacy
when found, I very much enjoyed listening to this album. I’m pleased
that 2xHD have rescued these performances from oblivion. Hitherto all
their offerings that I’ve heard have been refurbishments of Naxos recordings;
I hope that they will continue to offer more such lost treasures.
By the time that you read this, Easter will be over but it will still
be Eastertide. I recommend following up Pachelbel’s organ music with
his Easter cantatas on Ricercar RIC255, as reviewed in December
2008 (Christ lag in Todesbanden from this album also included
in bargain 7-CD set, RIC344 –
review and review).