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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Orgelwerke (Organ Works)
Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 548 (1-2)
Trio Sonata No.4 in E minor BWV 528 (3-5)
Chorale Prelude 'Es ist das Heil uns kommen her' BWV 638 (6)
Chorale Prelude 'Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich' BWV 605 (7)
Trio Sonata No.5 in C major BWV 529 (8-10)
Prelude & Fugue in C major BWV 547 (11-12)
Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 546 (13-14)
Hans Helmut Tillmanns, organ
[1]-[5], [8]-[10] At the Hammer Organ of Marktkirche in Eschwege Germany; [6]-[7] At the Johann Berenhard Klausing Organ (1714-1717) of Kloster Oelinghausen, Germany; [11]-[14] At the Bruno Christensen Organ of Søndre Sogns Kirke, Viborg Denmark. Tracks 1-10 March 2002; Tracks 11-14 September 1999


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It is not necessary to add to the vast amount of scholarship on the organ music of J.S. Bach. It would be pointless of me to try to discuss, criticise or analyse the seven works presented on this disc. No comments from me are needed about the life and work of the composer.

This recording by Danacord has the expected high quality and the performance by Hans Helmut Tillmanns is immaculate and moving to say the least.

However there are two key points about this disk that make it an excellent purchase. Firstly the varied programme and secondly the fact that this programme is played on three different organs. As a package it makes a fine introduction to the organ music of the master - but also it is an accomplished recital which most Bach aficionados will want to add to their large collections!

I had not heard any recordings by Dr Tillmanns before reviewing this CD. However, his is a name that is familiar to me through browsing in CD shops. And this is hardly surprising. Dr Tillmanns has some thirty discs to his credit. His repertoire extends across the entire gamut of the instrument - from renaissance to the present. He has involved himself in the recording and production of music for radio and television. Not being content with this activity he also teaches at the Academy in Remscheid in Germany.

I have a few minor concerns about this disc. Firstly the programme notes are not helpful. Danacord, possibly correctly, assume that organ buffs will know the repertoire and do not need copious analysis. Secondly there is a preponderance of the keys of C major and e minor in this recording. This is not a big problem in itself but perhaps one of the big works in an unrelated key may have added a little something to the programme!

The sleeve notes give the organ specification for all three instruments. However only one, the Klausing organ allows us to know the date of construction. I understand the Hammer organ at Eschwege was built in 1966, but this is only hearsay.

All three organs are bright in their registrations and are ideally suited for music of this era - full of mixtures and mutations. Certainly these organs would not be appropriate for Messiaen, Widor or Basil Harwood.

Altogether a good selection of Bach's organ music - interesting and impressive works but avoiding the temptation to include any pot-boilers for the sake of selling CDs.

A fine introduction to the work of J.S.B: well played, great sound and nicely presented.

John France



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