Passacaglia - Imbert
Base2 Music Base2-06
Classical - Instrumental
Reger: Introduction & Passacaglia
Buxtehude: Passacaglia, BV 161
de Wolf: Choral and fugue
Couperin: Passacaglia in G minor
Ferrari: Pasacalie vasco
Rogg: Passacaglia in B minor
Rheinberger: Introduction & passacaille from Sonata No. 8, Op. 132
Bach: Passacaglia & fugue, BWV 582, Come Sweet Death (arr. Fox)
Peeters (with Imbert): Toccata (MCH only)
(Bells of Marienbasilika & test tones)
Jean-Paul Imbert (Seifert organ of Marienbasilika Kevelaer)
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- Johann Sebastian Bach: Passacaglia for Organ, BWV 582 in C minor
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred Song: Komm, süsser Tod, BWV 478
- Dietrich Buxtehude: Passacaglia for Organ in D minor, BuxWV 161
- Louis Couperin: Passacaille  in G minor
- Carlotta Ferrari: Pasacalle vasco
- Flor Peeters: Toccata (with Imbert)
- Max Reger: Introduktion und Passacaglia in D minor, WoO IV/6
- Joseph Rheinberger: Organ Sonata No. 8 in E minor, Op. 132
- Lionel Rogg: Passacaglia in B minor
- Cornelius de Wolf: Passacaglia, chorale and fugue on 'Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten'
Review by Adrian Quanjer - January 27, 2020
This release is not only a great gift for organ fans, it is also an ideal demonstration disc for super sound surround buffs.
To deal with the sound first, the recording has been made with a ‘truly Immersive’ surround picture in mind. Engineered and edited by Jacob Purches (Base2 Music) to fully capture subsonic sound below 40 Hz to 16Hz “the lowest fundament of 32 foot stops on the organ” with 5 omnidirectional microphones covering a frequency range from 5 Hz to 50 kHz, ensuring at the same time that “the rear channels pick up the sounds from the Chapel organ in the ambiance of the main organ”. Sounds like wizardry to me, but I’m admittedly a layman in this field. But isn’t it the end result that counts? To that effect the services of Bastiaan Kuijt (The Netherlands-based BK Audio, who assisted Sony and Philips in developing the Unified Cutting Master Format), have been solicited for the final SACD surround mastering. It may be clear that nothing has been left to chance by Base2 Music to produce a milestone organ recording. Provided your power amp, speakers and/or your ears can handle it, the sound quality is, indeed, most impressive.
For this purpose, this disc contains a complete series of test files for your sound reproduction chain in the bonus track at the end. Although they are meant to prepare the installation for obtaining the best possible surround soundstage, allowing the listener to enjoy the full frequency range of the Seifert organ, they can also be used for general surround set up purposes. The test is self-explaining, but be warned to keep the volume control low till you anticipate a safe level to run them. Jacob (Jake) Purches writes: “The 5.1 test idea came about mainly because it was so difficult to get a 'reference' sound from an actual disc from all 5 speakers and from the subwoofer too. As the intention was to make this a primary 5.1 release, I was worried that listeners may not have their speakers properly balanced, so with Bastiaan Kuijt we devised a series of audio tests. The first thing I did when I got the SACD from the factory back was to calibrate my home system! And the results are excellent for all the other SACDs too”.
As for the music, the French organist, Jean-Paul Imbert, Titular of the Kleuker organ of Notre-Dame des Neiges, d’Alpe d’Huez, France, who did such a fine job in a previous Base2 Music recording, playing the monumental Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Abattiale St. Étienne at Caen, France: Franck: 3 Chorales, Prelude, Fugue & Variations, Cantabile, Andantino, Fantasie - Imbert, has once more been asked to be the soloist in this collection of Passacaglias, “a series of variations over an ostinato pattern, usually of a serious character”.
The Cavaillé-Coll organ is, of course, of a different manufacture than the Great Seifert Organ of St. Marien Basilika, Kevelaer, Germany, with a notable difference in sound. The initial construction took almost two years, from 1905 to 1907, and was of such importance and size that Ernst Seifert decided to delocalise his organ factory from Cologne to Kevelaer, where it still is. The original instrument had three manuals and 113 speaking stops, but has, over the years and on several occasions, been modernized and enlarged, to become, with its 149 stops, the biggest German-Romantic organ in the world. Interestingly, some of the new stops were copied from the chamade ensemble of the Cavaillé-Coll organ in the basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Paris. Full details about Disposition/Specification/Composition are given in the accompanying booklet (though hard to read because of the minute font used!).
That Jean-Paul Ibert is a confirmed organist, we knew already. No need, therefore, to repeat the laurels of his previous recording for Base2 Music. In this one he demonstrates once again his mastery at handling the complexity of a grand organ. What a beauty of sound is Imbert capable of generating in the fine acoustics of the Kevelaer Marienbasilika! By carefully selecting the combination of stops, as well as his playing with such verve and intelligence, he draws a hugely amazing palette of colours from the instrument. Together with the superbly tuned organ and the excellent engineering, I’m confident he will not fail to please even the least poetical listener.
Two additional remarks: When the recital is over, one hears bells ringing. At first, I thought these were the distant bells of our own village church until I realised that I heard the bells of basilika from within the building. Secondly, Sufficient time is left between the recital and the following test files to let you savour the recital for up to ten minutes before you have to switch off.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France
Copyright © 2020 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net