1. What is HIP?
Historically Informed Performance.
Ah, okay. I don't think we are less into it than other places, necessarily. In academia, we are probably just as much into it, but I there is no longer an organ prof at my school (he just retired, and due to economic situation, they were able to justify cutting his spot on the faculty), and all the organists I know are church organists, trained to various degrees. That's the thing about the US....there is a church on every corner, especially here in MS, and they all need organists. That results in a lot of opportunists with no training teaching themselves how to play organ from only knowing piano (like me, though my motivation is Bach rather than a church job).
However, I have a philosophy about 'HIP', that basically boils down to this: it's important for me to know how things were done back in the day, but it is not always so important for me to do things that way. Partly because some of the changes in performance practice have come about because of improvements in the making of instruments, and also because of a sort of artistic evolution. And don't mistake the latter sentiment for an impression that music somehow becomes better as time goes on. You know how I feel about Bach. However, there are some ideas that were introduced after Bach's death, particularly in the Romantic era, that I think he would have most likely capitalized upon. It's hard to argue, but it's just as impossible to determine that he would not have done things differently, if influenced by those ideas. So, I would like to know how Bach did it, but in the end, there is still a musical choice to make, and I think that the danger of HIP is that it gives the impression that the choice is already made.
In this case, I would like to know what, exactly, the HIP guidelines are, and what, exactly, Bach had to say on the subject, if anything (via CPE works too).
Yikes, how I hate Bach played old-style on a French romantic organ with wailing flutes and salicionals and grinding plenum. Cocherau's recording sounds more like Franck than Bach, or maybe like catholic Bach. It becomes a wall of sound, unfortunately more a like concrete than a brick wall.
But was it 'mushy'? LOL. Well, it is at least clear that you and I have very different ideas about how an organ should sound. Bach was not so prejudiced against Frenchy things!
I don't know why you have a problem with WALL O SOUND, because that's my favorite thing about organ. If it wasn't for that, I would stick to piano!
Stamm's is a lot better - he also has the better organ for this music. Though I don't much like his registrations. At least he is precise and well-articulated but even he does not keep things transparent.
I do like the organ he plays on, but I prefer the Notre Dame organ, I think. It's hard to say, because of course registrations have a lot to do with how it sounds. As for Stamm's registrations, from what I could tell, he didn't use a great deal of contrast at all. On his interpretation...particularly disturbing to me was the rushed ending. However...
*barf* LOL, sorry, but WTF was up with that ending? How can you not notch it up? Also...what is up with his weird tempo fluctuations? He rushes in some of the most terrible places! But the ending was the worst, and I hear in this one of the most musically disgusting examples I have ever heard of the worst danger of HIP: this notion that the music should somehow speak for itself. I can understand not liking Cochereau's fluty organ, but at least he has some notion of drama.
Already in the beginning you hear how he detaches the slow pedal notes. The consistently airy touch allows him to dance rather than grind through this piece. This is how it should sound, IMO (well maybe not for all his trills and frills which are too much of a good thing sometimes). If I can ever play organ like that I can die happily
I don't see how legato prevents the dance; in my humble opinion, the dance in Bach comes from a variety of articulation, rather than a rule, and also from the grace of his technique. But it looks as if we will just have to agree to disagree on this point.
I agree about his ornaments being just a bit much sometimes, but there are definitely a few places where I will be adding some. And while the detached pedal does have an interesting musical effect, especially in the first couple of variations, I think I still prefer it legato.