Blogging Pachelbel

I’ve been obsessed the last few weeks with the history of Pachelbel’s Canon. I got interested because my viol consort had originally planned to do Purcell’s Three Parts on a Ground (Z. 731), which is for the exact same instrumentation, and I thought we should get the Pachelbel under our belts while we were at it. For various reasons we decided not to do either piece, but I’d gotten fascinated by the historiography of the Canon. This weekend I started buying every MP3 version of it I could find that was a serious attempt to present the Canon, and not variations on the Canon’s chaconne bass.

I’ve figured out the timings for all the ones I have and the average beats per minute (BPM), and now I’ve just started listening through them to get a sense of how the different performances differ. I’d started taking notes, but I realized it would make more sense to just blog the whole process as I go along, and do it one performance per blog post.

Here’s the list of the recordings I’m looking at, in roughly chronological order (it’s tough to say on some of them since they are re-issues of re-issues and don’t have the original release dates so far as I can tell):

[Editorial Note: Since originally posting this, I've come up with additional information on recording dates. I've updated a few major items here, but will not get back to this project until the weekend, when I should have significant revisions based on additional information received very gratefully from many helpful correspondents.]

Ensemble/Performer Version Est. Date
Fiedler Sinfonietta Orchestral ?1940s, R1991
Baumgartner, Festival Strings, Lucerne Orchestral, 8mm. cut 1966, R1968, R1969, R1976, R1978, R1981, R1984, R1986, R1991
Münchinger/Stuttgart Orchestral, 8mm. cut 1967, R1978, R1989
Paillard 1968 Orchestral arr. 1968, R1979, R1984
Ettore Stratta Orchestral, 8mm. cut 1970s, many re-releases, lastest R2002 (is this the Ordinary People version?)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestral arr. with winds and brass, non-original bass line, incomplete in all downloadable versions (fadeout after c. 2:30) ?1970s, R2008
London Philharmonic Orchestral ?1970s, R2008
101 Strings Orchestral ?1970s, R2008
Gerhardt/National Philharmonic Orchestral ?1970s-80s, R2007
Vienna Baroque Ensemble Orchestral ?1970s-80s, R2009
New Bach Collegium Orchestral (tutti/solo?) ?1980s, R1989, R1999, R2009
Hogwood Original 1981 (1983?) R1994-95
Musica Antiqua Köln/Goebel Original 1981, R1995
London Baroque Original 1981 R1998 R2005
Leppard Orchestral 1981-82 (83?) R1988
Slatkin Orchestral 1982-83 (84?), R2008
I Musici Orchestral 1983, R1990
English Concert Original 1986 (1985?)
Taverner Players Original 1988, R1993, R1996, R2004-05, R2006-07
Paillard 1989 Orchestral arr. 1991 (recorded in 1989), R1995
London Chamber Orchestra Orchestral 1989 R1994
Orpheus Orchestral 1990
Manze Original 1993
Royal Philharmonic/Carney Orchestral 2009 [new release?]

That’s a lot of recordings to review, but so far, it’s been fairly fascinating, discovering all the surprises, the parallel octaves and fifths, the shocking cuts, the ridiculous tempos (both fast and slow). Fun stuff!

Next post in this series: Blogging Pachelbel #1 — Baumgartner