> Walther, Lancino Organ pieces [JW]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Gottfried WALTHER (1684-1748)
Concerto by Meck (Antonio Vivaldi RV 275)
Concerto by Torelli
Concerto by Gregori
Concerto by Taglietti
Partita on the Choral Meinen Jesum lass ist nicht
Partita on the Choral Jesu meine Freude
Choral Hilf, Gott, das mirs gelinge
Thierry LANCINO (b 1954)

Dominique Ferran, organ
Recorded on the Yves Severe organ, Notre-Dame-la-Grande, Poitiers, March 1998
K617090 [71.50]
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Bach and Buxtehude didn’t stand alone. Johann Gottfried Walther was another North German composer more than deserving of his place in the discographical sun and was, moreover, Bach’s cousin on his mother’s side. He studied with Pachelbel’s son and was, through him, introduced to the works of Buxtehude and this was to be of potent and lasting significance. Walther specialized in choral Preludes – he wrote over one hundred – and keyboard transcriptions of Italian concertos. In that of course his similarities with Bach are obvious and intriguing. Both worked in Weimar where they were encouraged to write the transcriptions – Bach wrote five for the organ and sixteen for the harpsichord, Walther triumphantly trumping him with a claimed seventy-eight (although only fourteen seem to have survived).

On this fine disc we can hear four of the transcriptions, two Partitas and a Choral Prelude. The CD in fact makes a splendid case for Walther – and is persuasive argument that his neglect, dwarfed by those better-known composers, has been our loss. He was a fluent but never superficial composer, closely alive to the linkage between word and music, staying close to the text, closer than Bach himself. The Concerto transcriptions are buoyant and attractive – the suspensions in the second movement of the Vivaldi especially well-judged; in the Taglietti transcription the winsome registrations contrast fully with the more robust and grandiose ones employed in the Gregori – reflectively entirely of the difference in character between the two works. There is a real energetic brio in Ferran’s playing here and he elucidates Walther’s transcription of Gregori’s work with evident enjoyment. He despatches the Choral Prelude with considerable panache.

The Partita on the Choral Jesu meine Freude is a thirteen-minute reflection of real depth and I especially enjoyed the nasal registrations employed and the use of the bass in the opening sections – flexible and musical. It is a work of increasing complexity and amplitude and with occasional stentorian registrations and makes an admirable introduction to Walther’s serious but not over-solemn aesthetic.

To complete the disc is an unusual pendant, Prisme by Thierry Lancino born in 1954. Commissioned for the inauguration of the new organ at Notre-Dame-la-Grand, Poitiers, it is a five-movement work of refraction and distinctiveness. The first part is abrasive with see-sawing sonorities and agitated. The second is complexly refractive and thoughtful, whereas the third is glassy and winsome and the work ends with affirmatory amplitude. Attractive.

A word about the new organ. It was designed on the model of the German baroque polyphonic organ; the reed registrations are especially pleasing and their employment in Meinen Jesum lass ist nicht is a particular pleasure. Good production standards from K617 and in Dominique Ferran they have a worthy advocate for Walther’s discriminating and too-long-buried music.

Jonathan Woolf

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