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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Organ Works

1. Toccata und Fuge D minor BWV 565
2.Wachet auf, runft uns die Stimme BWV 645
3. Wo soll ich fliehen hin BWV 646
4. Präludium und Fuge C minor BWV 546
5. Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten BWV 647
6. Meine Seele erhebt den Herren BWV 648
7. Präludium und Fuge F minor BWV 534
8. Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 649
9. Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter BWV 650
10. Präludium und Fuge B minor BWV 544

Jean-Charles Ablitzer, organ: Christoph Treutmann, Goslar-Grauhof, Lower Saxony.
Rec: June 1996, Sankt Georg Abbey Church.
HARMONIC RECORDS H/CD 9557 [61.56]

 

Experience Classicsonline


Jean-Charles Ablitzer is an excellent French organist who has made brilliant recordings of Buxtehude’s organ works, as well as several recordings of works by Bach, Couperin and other baroque composers. While he has not yet embarked on a complete Bach cycle, this is his fourth Bach set. Perhaps completion is approaching. This recording contains the eight Schübler chorals, some of Bach’s finest organ writing, framed by some of his finest larger works, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the Prelude and Fugue in C minor, and others. It is presented with one "large" work, followed by two chorals, and so on.

Ah, yet another recording of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, opens this disc.....Yet another one. This overplayed work is so familiar that I often shudder when hearing it. It can be played in any way, in many forms, in movie soundtracks and in supermarket aisles. Yet my ears perked up when listening to Jean-Charles Ablitzer performing this piece. The opening toccata did not stand out too much, but when he began playing the fugue I realized that he was coming from a more different place than many organists. It is difficult to reproduce the subtle counterpoint of this work on the organ - the notes can blur if played too quickly, but Ablitzer has the perfect touch, allowing the different voices to be heard individually, playing almost as if on a lighter instrument, such as a harpsichord. Part of the beauty of this performance is the excellent organ he plays. This organ has a beautiful range of sounds, and the church it is in resonates perfectly without carrying the low notes too long.

Ablitzer gives the chorals an intensely intimate reading, almost as if he were playing them on a positive organ instead of a large church organ. This approach is quite fitting, because of the subtle intimacy of these chorals, with their delicate writing and themes. He performs them as lyrical works, not divorcing them from their roots as songs. His choice of registers is always interesting, and his tempi fit the music perfectly.

This is a very satisfying recording of some of Bach’s finest works - the Schübler chorals represent perhaps the apex of this form, and the longer works, the Tocatta and Fugue and Preludes and Fugues, show the more demonstrative range of his compositions. Ablitzer shows a deep sensitivity and a true understanding of these different types of works, and the program he has selected is interesting and varied.

Kirk McElhearn

 



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