Latvian organist Liene Andreta Kalnciema performs Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565. In this video, Kalnciema is playing the great Walcker organ (1883) at Riga Cathedral in Latvia. The performance was recorded live on July 7, 2019.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor
One of the most brilliant and creative compositions ever written for the organ, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach. First published in 1833 through the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn, the piece quickly became popular and is now one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire.
The piece is characterized by grand, cathedral-like architecture. Pedal points provide the foundation, strettos engrave recurring design motifs on the architraves that join immense columns of sound, quirky modulations form spandrels at the ends of phrases, blue notes spout from the gargoyles guarding the rails of free-form episodes-episodes that form a fan-vault over the chords; subject and counter-subject weave rood-screens between the main formal sections, the fugue rules square the structure in balanced harmony, and striking modal colors provide illumination through the clerestory windows of Bach’s imagination.
The work is unique in many respects, and these unique qualities, for example, the solo statement of the fugue subject in the pedals is unprecedented in any work of the baroque. This has led some musicologists to speculate that the work may not be by Bach, or that it is an arrangement drawn from work for another instrument. But what instrument besides the organ could build a cathedral of sound?
Since the 1970s, though, some scholars have challenged the attribution of the piece to Bach. These included but were not limited to, the following, all either unique or extremely rare for organ music of the period the toccata is allegedly from:
- Parallel octaves throughout the opening of the toccata
- True subdominant answers in the fugue
- A pedal statement of the subject, unaccompanied by other voices
- Primitive harmonies throughout the piece, with countersubjects in the fugue, frequently moving through thirds and sixths only
- Conclusion of the piece on a minor plagal cadence
Liene Andreta Kalnciema
Liene Andreta Kalnciema is one of the most outstanding Latvian organists of her generation who has won wide international recognition. It is testified by the highest awards at numerous significant international competitions as well as by her active concert programs all over Europe.
She acquired professional education in piano performance at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music and at the Estonian Academy of Music graduating with a master’s degree. Studies for a master’s degree in organ performance at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music she graduated with Prof. Vita Kalnciema.
Liene Andreta Kalnciema was granted awards in various international organ competitions: Petr Eben International Organ Competition – First Prize and Prize for the best performance of Petr Eben works – Opava, Czech Republic, 2010; César Franck International Organ Competition – Third Prize, Haarlem, The Netherlands, 2013; Wadden Sea International Organ Competition – Third Prize, Esbjerg, Denmark, 2017.
She participated in various masterclasses, and international festivals, and regularly performed all over Europe – Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands, Canada, Czech Republic, Belarus, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, USA, and Latvia on historic and modern instruments.
She regularly collaborated with different choirs, ensembles and soloists. Since 2006 – organist of the Riga Evangelical Lutheran Martin’s Church. She is a permanent participant in organ music concerts at the Riga Cathedral and since 2009 – a lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Music.
- Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 on Wikipedia
- Liene Andreta Kalnciema on the Riga Cathedral’s website
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