This is acclaimed organist and recording artist Alessandro Licata performing Bach's Passacaglia and thema fugatum in c minor on the great organ at Santa Galla Church in Rome, Italy. This music is believed to be a product of Bach's Weimar years
(1708-1717) during which a large part of his mature organ works are believed to have been written. It consists of 21 variations on a ground bass followed by a tremendous double fugue constructed upon the same.
Probably no other organ work of Bach
makes so many demands upon registration changes as this one. As the music progresses all of the instrument's available manuals and a variety of stops and couplers are employed, and it finishes with great finality over the full power of the organ, exploiting
to the fullest the downward sonority of the instrument.
In this recording legato touch with repeated notes held at exactly half their written value is employed throughout. Substitution is also used in the hands but is avoided entirely in the pedal.
By means of the fine camera work the skillful use of subsidiary manuals and crossing of hands may be noted along with the refined coordination of hand registrations made without undue pause on an instrument with no combination action, the liberal use of the
heels, and the way the feet are stabilized to play the next pedal note. The fact that every note was memorized, not one moving note was played broken, and the eyes were looking down at the feet a good bit of the time is also of particular interest.
While this same time-honored legato approach to playing Bach which held sway for over a century-and-a-half runs contrary to discoveries made in the 1970's relative to articulate touch and toes-only pedaling, it nevertheless, in this recording, brings out the
dense texture of Bach's writing without any loss of clarity.
Mr. Licata conducts a clinic here on how to perform Bach in a beautiful legato style with nuanced tempos, substitution employed in the hands, and with liberal use of the heels. We offer
him our compliments and sincerest thanks for recording this instructive video and posting it on Vimeo for public viewing.