This is a new Pure DSD release from the Organ Music specialists at Base2 Music. Recorded in Stereo DSD 128, it has been transferred to all DSD Bit Rates in the DSD Domain!
It is a 2019 recording from Paris based virtuoso organist Jean-Paul Imbert playing 8 composers on the theme of the Passacaglia, a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used today by composers.
It is usually of a serious character and is often, but not always, based on a bass-ostinato and written in triple meter. The Passacaglia is even found in the walking and repeating bass line of Rock and Roll music. A famous example is in Saucer Full of Secrets by Pink Floyd.
Here are examples of the form. Some pieces start with the Passacaglia in the pedals, and others start further in. The composers range from the 17th to the 21st century. They include Bach, Buxtehude, and Lionel Rogg.
The music on the album finishes off with a non-passacaglia – the Bach/Virgil Fox classic ‘Come Sweet Death.’ This piece shows off the string section of the Kevelaer organ in the Marienbasilica where this album was recorded.
Jean-Paul Imbert – Organ
Total time: 01:06:09
|Analog to Digital Converter||
Korg (DSD 128), Signalyst HQ Player 4 Pro Mastering Tools (DSD 128 to DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 64)
Silver loudspeaker wiring by Gekko, ‘Silver Lining’ series by Boban Djurdjevic
Vivid Audio Loudspeakers Giya 1 ‘Spirit’ were used for final stereo mix and mastering. Thanks to Laurence Dickie and Raymond Rowles for the facilities at Vivid Audio UK.
Tom Caulfield at NativeDSD Mastering Lab – Stereo DSD 128 to DSD 512, DSD 256 & DSD 64 in the DSD Domain using Signalyst HQ Player 4 Pro Mastering Tools
Sennheiser MKH 8020
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||July 2, 2021|
Organ works by Bach, Buxtehude, Couperin, de Wolf, Ferrari, Reger, Rheinberger and Lionel Rogg
Recorded in November 2019 at the Marienbasilika in Kevelaer, Germany
Base 2 Music DSD128 and DSD512 from NativeDSD.com and 24/192 from the usual suppliers
In 17 th century Spain a pasacalle was a few improvised strummed chords used by guitarists between the
verses of a song. As the passacaglia evolved we got linked variations over a bass, which led to Bach’s
great organ compositions. In the 19 th century Brahms’ Fourth Symphony ended with one featuring thirty
variations and in the last century Britten and Webern amongst others used the form.
This recital features the massive, ten thousand pipe, Ernst Seifert organ at the Marienbasilika in
Kevelaer, Germany, which rather surprisingly has a fairly short reverberation time. The problem with an
hour long programme such as this is that the passacaglia form became very serious, usually in minor
keys, so you don’t get much light relief and even the final piece, which isn’t a passacaglia, is a
magnificent adaptation by Virgil Fox of Bach’s slow Choral, Komm, süsser Tod in F minor. Nor are the
works by de Wolf, Ferrari, Lionel Rogg and Rheinberger in the same class as those by Bach, Buxtehude,
Couperin and Reger, but even the lesser ones clearly had an intimate knowledge of the organs more
generalised capabilities and nothing palls.
Jean-Paul Imbert makes discriminating use of the instruments innumerable registers and sound-effects,
although like so many organists you can almost smell the cassocks and candle-wax and a bit more
impetus and flamboyance in the Reger and attack in the final pages of the de Wolf for example wouldn’t
have gone amiss. All-in-all though this is very enjoyable, non-specialists can always dip in and out and
the sound is superb. As a bonus track you get the highly atmospheric, distant sound of the church’s
Inner balance: 5
Detail and clarity: 5
Dynamic range: 5
This is what is called pure DSD, so it was recorded in DSD128, there was no editing and it was then
converted to PCM formats and higher resolution DSD, such as the 512 reviewed here. As mentioned
above the reverberation time for a large church is low and the microphones were clearly ideally placed
to capture every facet and register of the instrument, from the deepest 32ft pipes, 16Hz fundamentals
to the soaring translucent treble, without being too far away or compromising the buildings acoustic.
Unlike some organ recordings, the sound doesn’t deteriorate at lower listening levels and the dynamic
range is state-of-the-art.
Jake Purches of Base 2 very kindly also made available a 24/192 version, which is very fine, but the bass
isn’t quite so controlled, the instrumental timbres aren’t as natural, the venues acoustic signature isn’t
so tangible and you don’t get that unique sense of walk-in sound DSD512 always brings.
There are a couple of presentational issues. The booklet is excellent, but the keys of many of the pieces
are missing and it is pretentious to refer to, when discussing the Virgil Fox arrangement, someone called
Stokovsky, who is actually Leopold Stokowski.
French organist Jean-Paul 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”.
In this album 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 colors 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 realized that I heard the bells of basilica from within the building. Secondly, Sufficient time is left between the recital and the following test files to let you savor the recital for up to ten minutes before you must switch off.
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