Excellent job! Some transcriptions of this work that I've come across (especially Malata's) seem to try too hard to make the piano sound like an organ; while others come off sounding a little thin. You seem to have found a very good balance. The strands of counterpoint in the fugue are very clear; it just becomes music instead of a piano trying to sound like whatever. I think it's worthy of comparison to Liszt's Bach transcriptions. Well done.
Thank you very much for the nice compliments, although the Liszt comparison is really too much honor, honestly
It’s actually a pity that Liszt (or Busoni for that matter) never transcribed the Passacaglia, but what we do know, is that Liszt strongly opposed playing this work on full organ throughout (which is what some organist strongly believe was the intention, not based on the manuscript, mind you – which is lost – but on copies). Liszt allegedly once angrily asked a famous organist if he really believed that Bach himself played his Passacaglia and Fugue throughout on full organ. He answered for the poor chap: “No way! Bach was too great an artist for that, don't you know that Bach was famous for his wonderful organ registrations?” Liszt himself supposedly used to play the Passacaglia in the ‘romantic’ way on the organ, i.e. starting softly and gradually building up to a climax.
What you've mentioned about the transcriptions you’ve come across is so true, more even: it was the very reason why I finally decided to try to write my own transcription! You can actually read this for yourself in (part of) the preface to my score on my publisher’s website (click on ‘Look inside’): https://www.valeurajoutee.eu/en/product/j-s-bach-arr-yves-corsellis-passacaglia-bwv-582/
Contrary to some 'thin' arrangements (these actually sound more like a transcription of a harpsichord piece than of an organ work), Malata really exaggerated by unnecessarily octavating and filling nearly everything. Not only does it sound ridiculous in some instances, it also often is almost unplayable.
As for the balance between a piano and an organ like sound that does justice to the grandeur of the original, well, that was a tough nut to crack indeed. This actually took most of the time and a lot of thinking and experimenting from scratch to my performance on YouTube (by coincidence 9 months of gestation
), together with quite some (minor) adjustments over the following years.
Admittedly, the scale often tipped too much in one or the other way: I started with the organ registrations I used to hear, then I tried to make it sound more pianistic, back and forth a few times till I thought to have found a good balance/compromise. What eventually did the trick for me, was trying to ‘orchestrate’ the work, just as we pianist often have to orchestrate original piano works in order to produce a greater color palette. But isn’t that precisely what organist do – almost literally – by choosing the registrations???
Thinking and writing in this way actually closed the circle for me: it gave me the symbiosis of a piano and organ sound that I was looking for.