Olivier Latry – Toccata and Fugue in d minor at Notre Dame

Olivier Latry (1962-)
Olivier Latry is a famous French organist. He is the main organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He also teaches organ at the Paris Conservatory of Music. Latry has played in over 40 countries across five continents. He has made many recordings on the big organ at Notre Dame Cathedral.

In January 2019, Olivier Latry recorded an album of J.S. Bach organ works on the Notre Dame Cathedral organ called “Bach to the Future.” It was the last recording done on the big organ before a fire devastated the Cathedral on April 15, 2019. The spire of the cathedral collapsed, several stained glass windows were destroyed, and the Cathedral had smoke and water damage. The big organ (about 8000 pipes, five keyboards, pedals, and 109 stops) managed to escape severe damage. There was some smoke and water that got into the organ. At the time of the fire the Cathedral was undergoing renovations.

The first organ of Notre Dame was built in 1357. A few years after the first organ was built a new one was put in. Since that time the organ has grown in size. The organ was greatly transformed by the famous organ builder Cavaille-Coll in 1868. Since that time the sound of the organ has greatly changed and the instrument has been modernized.

Here is an incredible video shot in Notre Dame Cathedral of Olivier Latry playing one of the pieces on his new album “Bach to the Future” called The Toccata and Fugue in d minor. This piece has been attributed to J.S. Bach but recent scholarship seems to refute that claim. It is one of the most well known organ pieces on the planet, perhaps the most well known piece. Enjoy the wonderful sound of this massive organ played by one of the greatest organists on the planet.

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Handel’s “Moses and the Children of Israel” at the Crystal Palace, June 29, 1888

Here is a recording of the earliest surviving wax cylinder of Thomas Edison. This performance of G.F. Handel’s “Moses and the Children of Israel” was recorded on June 29, 1888 at the Crystal Palace in London, England. There were 500 musicians in the orchestra, around 4000 voices in the choir, and 23,722 people in the audience. You can just make out some of the choir singing. After the 1888 recording is played, you can hear a modern recording done in 2014 of the same chorus by G.F. Handel.

Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the choir and orchestra in the 1888 recording. I also don’t know who was performing in the 2014 recording. The amazing thing about the 1888 recording is that it exists. That was recorded at a time before airplanes and there were few cars at the time. Life was a lot more primitive then it is now. I hope that you enjoy this very old recording.

Vladimir Horowitz plays Scarlatti at Carnegie Hall (1968)

Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)

Vladimir Horowitz was a Russian piano virtuoso. He was known for his incredible piano technique, the special tone he produced when he played the piano, and the excitement his playing caused among his audiences during concerts. He was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Horowitz was known for his interpretations of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Schumann, and Scarlatti.

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1759)

Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian harpsichordist and composer. He is well known today for the 555 keyboard sonatas that he wrote. Scarlatti’s first publication of keyboard pieces was 30 exercises for keyboard. These became so popular after they were published that he kept writing more keyboard pieces.

Here is a video taken from a televised performance in 1968 of Vladimir Horowitz playing two Scarlatti sonatas. The Sonata in E Major and the Sonata in G Major. I don’t know the catalogue numbers for these sonatas. I hope that you enjoy this music as much as I do.

J.S. Bach – Sonata in b minor for violin and harpsichord BWV 1014: Giuliano Carmignola (violin), Andrea Marcon (harpsichord)

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

J.S. Bach was a German baroque composer, organist, harpsichordist, clavichordist, and violinist. Bach’s music represents the height of the baroque period. Many composers have imitated Bach’s style of composition, but no one (not even today) has matched the complexity of Bach’s music. Bach is well known today among the general public for his Air on the G String, his Brandenburg Concertos, Violin concertos, his unaccompanied cello suites, his fugues, organ music, and unaccompanied works for violin. Not as well known but very beautiful are his sonatas for violin and harpsichord which were probably composed between 1720 and 1723.

Giuliano Carmignola (1951 – ) – violinist

Giuliano Carmignola is an Italian violinist that specializes in early music. He has made many recordings and has played with top early music ensembles including the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, and Il Giardino Armonico.

Andrea Marcon (1963 -) – harpsichord

Andrea Marcon is an Italian harpsichordist, conductor, organist, and scholar of early music. He is the founder of the Venice Baroque Orchestra.

Here is a recording of Carmignola and Marcon playing the Bach Sonata in b minor for violin and harpsichord. I hope that you enjoy this music.

Michel Chapuis improvisation on “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”

Michel Chapuis (1930-2017)

Michel Chapuis was a French organist. He was well known for his interpretations of French Baroque and German Baroque organ music. He devoted his career to historically informed performance. He was also one of the masters of improvisation on the pipe organ. Chapuis served as the organist of many churches including St. Severin, Notre Dame, and St. Nicolas de Champs. Michel Chapuis was the titular organist of the Royal Chapel of Versailles from 1995-2010.

Here is an improvisation by Michel Chapuis on the chorale “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How brightly shines the morning star) from a live performance in 2001. I hope that you enjoy it.

Dieterich Buxtehude – Klag-Lied “Muss der Tod denn auch entbinden”

Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)

Dieterich Buxtehude was a Danish-German baroque composer and organist. His organ music is a major part of the organ repertoire and is frequently performed at organ recitals and church services. His keyboard music represents the height of the 17th century North German School of organ composition. Buxtehude wrote over 100 beautiful and very expressive vocal compositions. Today Buxtehude is often thought of as a predecessor to J.S. Bach. In 1705, 20-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach walked over 200 miles to hear Buxtehude perform his music.

Bernarda Fink (1955 -) mezzo-soprano

Bernarda Fink is an Argentine mezzo-soprano. She has sung with many of the world’s top orchestras and ensembles including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, and the English Baroque Soloists. She has worked with many of the top conductors in the world including Sir Neville Mariner, Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Riccardo Muti, Sir Colin Davis, and Valery Gergiev.

Bernard Foccroulle (1953-) organist, composer

Bernard Foccroulle is one of the top organists in the world. He is also a composer, conductor, and opera director. Bernard Foccroulle plays a wide repertoire of organ music from the Renaissance to contemporary music. As well as playing many world premieres of music by living composers, Bernard Foccroulle has performed and made many recordings of organ masterworks by composers such as Scheidemann, Weckmann, Buxtehude, and J.S. Bach.

Here is a recording of an aria by Buxtehude called the Klag-Lied: “Muss der Tod denn auch entbinden” (Must death then also break those chains). The aria was one part of a two part work written in homage to Buxtehude’s father who passed away in 1674. It is performed by Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano, and Bernard Foccroulle on the organ.

Frederick ll King of Prussia – Flute Concerto no.4 in D Major

Frederick II King of Prussia (1712-1786)

Frederick II King of Prussia (Frederick the Great) was a German monarch, patron of the arts, flute player, and composer. Frederick had his own musical ensemble with which he would perform from time to time. He had some of the finest musicians in Europe in his ensemble. Among the famous musicians in Frederick’s ensemble were C.H. Graun (Kapellmeister and opera composer), Johann Joachim Quantz (composer and flute virtuoso), and C.P.E. Bach (his accompanist and one of J.S. Bach’s famous musical sons).

Frederick the Great composed flute sonatas, flute concertos, and several arias for C.H. Graun’s operas. He also wrote librettos for several operas including Graun’s Montezuma (1755).

Here is a recording of Frederick the Great’s Flute Concerto no.4 in D Major. Unfortunately I do not know who the flute soloist or orchestra is because the person who posted the recording on youtube neglected to mention that information.