Tonight we heard UCLA organist, Christoph Bull, originally from Mannheim, Germany, play at the First Presbyterian Church where we heard Hector Olivera play last night. His bio said he has played in venues ranging from Catholic cathedrals of Moscow, Saint-Denis, Salzburg, and Los Angeles to Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, and rock clubs like the Viper Room, the Roxy, and the Whiskey A Go Go.
His program included nine fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach and what was unusual is that he played fugues not normally played apart from their preludes. He started with the famous Little G Minor Fugue, BWV 578, then played the “Gigue” Fugue in G major, BWV 577. Next was the Fugue in C major, BWV 545, then the Great A minor fugue, BWV 543, and the Dorian Fugue, BWV 538. These last two fugues were played by contestants in Saturday’s organ competition and because Christoph was one of the judges, I was most interested in his registration and tempos. The rest of the program contained the Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (from the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor), the Fugue in D major, BWV 532, the Great Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 (from the Fantasy and Fugue), and ended with the Fugue in E-flat, BWV 552 from the Clavierübung. I am so glad that Christoph kept the registrations small in most cases, and did not overplay the organ which was soooo loud last night. In many cases, he had fun with the Bach and made many echo effects with the registration.
Before he concluded the program with his own composition, “Variations on B-A-C-H,” he said that in Germany, if Americans say that they are interested in Bach (pronouncing it like “Bock”) they will be given “Bac,” the most popular roll-on deodorant!
Instead of an encore, he had the audience sing the commissioned hymn for the convention, “BAKERSFIELD,” and he really brought it to life by playing an interesting chorale prelude, and varied harmonizations for the three verses.