if you're really into classical music, i recommend that you buy the gramophone book which lists the best versions of almost all classical music pieces.
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There is also the Pengiun Guide to classical and a good guide put out by National Public Radio (NPR). Remember they are only the best recordings according to whoever wrote the book.
Now are you a music nut or an audiophile? That is important. Some of these recordings might have substandard sound. The editors are only rating the performance.
I have an old book where the editor of the book basically used other record guides and magazines as a vote. The book listed the recordings liked by the most number of reviewers.
If you are looking for a "traditional" performance and don't mind historical recordings, look for E. Power Biggs.
While the Murray recording is good, I still am lukewarm about his performances, though there's never a technical mistake. I prefer Christopher Herrick on the Hyperion label, probably influenced in part by the fact I've gotten to know him and am impressed both by his scholarly approach to Bach as well as his playing. The Guillou is also a good version, has a lot more fire than Murray's. And if you want something completely different and don't mind some liberties taken in registration and a very dry organ sound, Virgil Fox's recording, both the direct to disc vinyl and the CD version, is an exciting, though admittedly eccentric, version.
I realize that you asked about redbook CD recordings, but for the benefit of others, I'll mention two LP's and one SACD that feature good versions of the "D-Minor".
I'm partial to these versions of the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor":
1. "Magnum Opus", an LP released by Wilson Audio in the 1980's and featuring the Flentrop organ in St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle (n longer in print, but well worth owning if you find a good used copy);
2. a direct-to-disk LP by CrystalClear featuring Virgil Fox playing the organ in the "Crystal Cathedral" (Garden Grove Community Church in Los Angeles. (This was re-released on an inferior CD version on the budget LaserLight label. For more info, click on this link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000001VNE/103-7419193-2295801?v=glance)
3. Sony Classical SACD re-issue of E. Power Biggs playing the 4 antiphonal organs in the Cathedral of Freiburg. This SACD has great sound and very good performances of Bach's great Toccatas and Fugues, including the "D-Minor". On a good surround system, the sound is IMPRESSIVE.
I know you asked for CD but there is an LP version that really should be heard. E> Power Biggs has been mentioned, one particular album set he put out has him doing an organ tour of Germany and Holland, playing on organs built by APR SCHNITGER(1648-1719) organs Bach himself might have played on. The sound is quite different from modern organs, lighter, airier, higher, if you can get a hold of it and have it transferred to CD you will be quite amazed. I know I was. It is on Columbia Stereo M2S 697 or Mono M2L 297.
Sorry for the digression but it should be heard to hear what Bach wrote/composed as he would have heard it.
SD, the Fox recording is the one I was speaking of, and was released, I believe on the Bainbridge label, as The Digital Fox. Sound was never that great, even on the vinyl, as the organ seems quite close-miked and accordingly dry, but you're right, the digital version is not nearly as good as the vinyl.
I have many, many recordings of this as an organist myself. The M. Murray listed above is the first that comes to mind for power and slam (great reeds, and the low D pedal entrance has the most oomph of any recording I've heard) though I agree that his performances can be somewhat boring - he does this piece OK though. The Bigg's Freiburg is my favorite though, just because it's really cool (especially if you have the 5 channel SACD version and the system to play it on) and Biggs is great. If recording quality is not an issue, hear it on the largest organ of all time, available on the Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society website, though the recording was made in the 30's or 40's (though it's still pretty good).
RCPrince: The Bainbridge LP was a re-issue of the original CrystalClear direct-to-disk. I have several copies of the D-to-D version, and have also heard the Bainbridge edition, and the original CrystalClear D-to-D LP is far superior.
There is one other version of the "D-Minor" that I also like. The CD is "One of a Kind - The Music of JSB", played by William Porter, and released on the Loft Recordings label (LRCD 1025). The organ is a new instrument built for Pacific Lutheran University (located in Tacoma, WA) by Paul Fritts & Company. Fritts builds organs in the northern German tradition, and the PLU organ -- while not a large instrument (54 stops and 80 ranks) -- has a very clear tone in a hall with a 3-4 second delay time. Porter uses very expressive old fingering practices and simple registrations, which makes his playing immediate and articulate. The CD was recorded in 24-bit digital. For more info, here's the link: http://www.gothicrecords.com/
For serious organ enthusiasts, take a look at the catalog of organ recordings available through the Organ Historical Society: http://www.organsociety.org/
Of particular interest is their re-release of the 3 Dorian recordings by Jean Guillou, priced at $17 for all 3 CD's. Here's the link: www.ohscatalog.com/guorspon3cds.html
SD--I didn't know Bainbridge also put it out on LP. It was also a CD release, which I have and includes the material from both the D to D records, though recorded digitally and edited to take out the fluffs from the original performance that went D to D. As you say, it is far inferior to the Direct to Disc, which I also have, but it certainly shows Fox's style very well. Fox was one of those organists either you loved or hated, but you can never say he was boring. I think Guillou has a bit of Virgil in him.
ny92, the Stokowski symphonic transcription is pretty good and there are many performances. A recording of this transcription that was on HP's Super Disc list for years was that of Robert Pilker conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the Chandos label. It's well performed and very well recorded with excellent orchestral weight and impact (in its original vinyl incarnation). Amazon lists it as available on CD, but since I haven't heard the transfer I can't comment on the sound of the CD.
Agree with SDCampbell about the desirability of getting the 3-CD Dorian set by Jean Guillou for only $17 from OHS (and anybody who likes pipe organs should check out OHS anyway). Guillou is an eccentric organist, a kind of Glenn Gould of the organ, if you will, and not everyone admires his performances. He's a great improviser, also a composer and transcriber, and something of an organ designer as well. He's a free spirit who definitely has his own ideas about what he plays and plays music "his way," which may not necessarily be the composer's way or the way you'd like to hear it. This said, however, his Dorian recordings have magnificent sound, are on interesting and great-sounding organs, and I love them and wouldn't be without them (have them all). If you can get the 3-CD Dorian set for $17 from OHS, it's a steal and the perfect introduction to Guillou. I'm surprised it's still available, since Dorian has gone under. Get it while you can!
Realize this is now an old thread, but I just wanted to mention the Prelude and Fugue in D Major for the very same purpose and bring to light some great organ recordings. A couple of years ago they released the St. Mary's Cathedral recordings of Fox from 1976 on a DVD/CD combo recorded by none other than Prof. Johnson of reference recordings (available as "The Bach Gamut vol 1" from OHS). It is by far the best recording (Live) of Fox I have heard. Anyway, the P&F in D is absolutely incredible in the bass department. The fugue is too fast and he makes mistakes and cuts parts out, but the prelude is amazing. It beats the Michael Murray recording of the D Minor in recording prowess (and although many like the D Minor, let's face it, the D Major prelude is more spectacular). Also, the same organ (St. Mary's) is recorded fantastically on RR-98. It's a must own organ CD. The Reubke fugue from the 94th Psalm is awesome. This organ, a Rufatti, showcases this organ builders' talent. They produce amazing reeds and mixtures with a brightness that is never harsh - a very hard balance to achieve. While I'm at it, the RR CD of Felix Hell on another CD (RR-101) is also very worth getting. I wish I could play like that now, let alone when I was 14... I hope RR comes out with some more organ CD's. They are truly excellent.