bach organ cpo

Déjà Review: this review was first published in September 2002 and the recording is still available.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Organ Works – Volume 12
Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, BWV525
Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV566
Organ Chorales from the Neumeister Collection, BWV1108-1120 & 957
Sonata No. 4 in E minor, BWV528
Gerhard Weinberger (organ)
rec. 1999, Heinrich Gottfried Trost organ (built 1716), St Walpurgis Groengottern, Germany
cpo 999 866-2 [68]

This twelfth volume in CPO’s comprehensive survey of Bach’s organ music features Gerhard Weinberger at the Heinrich Gottfried Trost organ, Groengottern. There is an imaginatively planned programme – a feature of this excellent series – beginning and ending with sonatas, while also including the great Prelude and Fugue in C and a collection of chorales. The recording engineers have captured the music in a pleasing acoustic, and the music makes a strong impression. Weinberger is an experienced artist and he chooses his tempi wisely, while he also succeeds in conveying the personalities of the shorter pieces which make up the central part of the programme. These more intimate aspects of Bach’s organ works can cause acoustic difficulties in recordings, but this organ has a firm and satisfying tone across its whole range.

The Prelude and Fugue in C major is a substantial composition, and it has a virtuoso stance in many respects. In fact it has an unusual structure in four rather than two parts, so that there are actually two fugues, with an imaginative and free-ranging approach in the second of them. It is as if Bach originally improvised all this. And Weinberger’s interpretation is nothing if not direct and fresh.

The two trio sonatas are modelled on the example of Vivaldi’s concertos, a favourite influence for Bach. There are six of these pieces in all (the disc includes Nos. 1 and 4), which Bach published in definitive form after his move to Leipzig. Inevitably there are close links with earlier compositions, since Bach was a great arranger of his own music and that of others. For this reason the accompanying information becomes particularly important.

It is a relief therefore to find that the documentation in the booklet is excellent, with full details of the instrument as well as the music. As usual from this source, the English translation occasionally reads a little oddly, but generally the production standards are very high. This is true also of the recorded sound and the performances by this fine organist.

Terry Barfoot

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