This is world class organist/composer Hans-Andre Stamm performing at the historic, world famous 1741 Trost mechanical action organ of the Evangelical Lutheran City Church (Stadtkirche) of Waltershausen, Germany.  This instrument has been largely preserved in its original state and is one which J.S. Bach himself knew and likely played, thus is an invaluable resource in the performance of Bach's organ music.  It's also the largest organ in Thuringia, the region of east-central Germany where Bach was born and lived his entire life.

Prior to its appearance nothing as powerful as this Toccata & Fugue in d minor by had ever appeared before in the solo organ repertoire [See blog, Bach d minor, Parts I-V].  This bold work was written by a musician whose independent mastery is evident but who was also heavily influenced by the north German multi-sectional "stylus phantasticus" form.  The likelihood that any other German organist at the time, save for the young J.S. Bach, could have conceived something of such unprecedented force, energy, and strength is very remote.  It is thus believed to be a youthful work which, in its original form, was produced some time during Bach's Arnstadt years (1703-1707).

German organs of this period were equipped with unassisted mechanical action which caused the keys of other manuals to move automatically (evident in this video) when coupled to each other.  This multiplied the force required to depress keys and pull pallets because there's a resistance in those pallets, which meant that manuals were seldom coupled, and, when they were, it was usually no more than two at a time.  To help compensate for this, German builders of the period typically supplied relatively complete ensembles for each manual to reduce the need for intermanual coupling.

One is struck by the fine camera work and brisk tempos used in this recording, that 16' tone was drawn on the main manual the entire time, and that the German chorus reeds of Bach's time were tame and not dominating.  The 32' reed (Posaunen-Bass) was also kept drawn throughout save for being retired beginning with and up to the entrance of the 2nd pedal solo in the Fugue.  No other registration changes were made from start to finish -- the sound was varied exclusively by changing manuals.  One also notes the complete release of the big chord with no overlap of the closing pedal solo in the Toccata, that all 5 types of touch (legato, non-legato, marcato, staccato, and imperceivably broken) were employed, that at times some notes were very broken and held for even less than half their value, that the thumbs at times were used on the sharps, and that the left hand line in the exposition of the Fugue was broken to keep the right hand line from being compromised and less evident. 

This is an energetic, convincing, and revealing performance of this famous work which repays careful study.  We offer Mr. Stamm our highest compliments and sincerest thanks for making this instructive recording and posting it on YouTube for public viewing. 

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