This selection of Bach's organ works, played on an excellent-sounding modern organ, features a variety of works, including the great Partita BWV 768, Sei grüßet, Jesu gütig. This is Hans Helmut Tillmann's third recording of Bach's works for Danacord.
The organ has an excellent sound, although, being in a modern church, lacks the resonance of older, more spacious churches. This is less perceptible in the chorale preludes, such as BWV 653, which is a slow, mellow meditation, than it is in the more massive, expressive pieces, such as the intense beginning of the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV. The musical lines come through very clearly, but the familiar timbre of powerful organs in huge churches is missing.
Tillmanns has made an interesting selection of works - culminating with the great Partita BWV 768, Sei grüßet, Jesu gütig, he builds up to it with a series of fantasies, preludes and fugues and choral preludes. The Fugue of the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV 542, starting in the highest registers of the organ, rings out beautifully with the registration chosen here, although the lower pedal notes do not have the energy and force to provide the right counterpoint. They sound distant, as if in a different space, and make this piece sound a bit unstructured. Nevertheless, the light touch used in this fugue is very attractive.
The two choral preludes chosen here, such as Chorale Prelude BWV 663, Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, are among the more mellow preludes, and these do, indeed, work well on this organ. But the high point is certainly the Partita BWV 768, Sei grüßet, Jesu gütig. Partita, here, is not a suite, as in the harpsichord partitas, but rather a series of variations, eleven in all. This is Bach's longest organ work - here almost 21 minutes. Tillmanns plays this work well, and each variation takes on its own atmosphere, as the music builds up to the final climax. While, at times, the playing is a bit restrained, the overall tone of this piece is beautiful, with the different variations played in such a way that their lines are very clearly heard. The registrations chosen are, for the most part, muted and mellow, but, as the piece winds on, this builds up to a much more energetic sound. The progression of tone and volume throughout the piece is very appropriate.
A very good recording of a selection of Bach's organ works. Sei grüßet, Jesu gütig is the culmination of the disc. The organ's sound is not exceptional, Tillmanns plays works that fit well with the organ's character and with his own style. This is an organ disc for those who do not like loud, thunderous organ recordings.