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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Organ Works, Volume 13
Third Part of the Clavierübung
Prelude & Fugue in E flat major, BWV552
Chorale Preludes: BWV 669-671, 676, 678, 680, 682, 684, 686 & 689
Gerhard Weinberger (organ)
Rec. 3-5 October 2001, Christoph Treutmann organ (built 1737) Monastery Grauhof, Goslar
CPO 999 867-2 [72.02]



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This thirteenth volume in CPO's comprehensive survey of Bach's organ music features Gerhard Weinberger at the organ of the Grauhof Monastery, near Goslar. As ever there is an imaginatively planned programme of music from the Third Part of the Clavierübung, beginning with the E flat Prelude and then the Fugue, interspersed with a collection of chorale preludes. However, I have to confess that when listening I was drawn to re-programme the player in order to hear the Prelude and Fugue together.

The booklet notes are thorough and well written, and give full explanations of what is done and the reasons why it is done. And since we have the technology, why not use it when deciding what we will listen to and when?

The recording engineers have captured the music in a pleasing acoustic, although not as sonically impressive as in some other recordings in the series. Even so, the music still makes a strong impression. Weinberger is an experienced artist and he understands this repertoire, choosing his tempi wisely. He also succeeds in conveying the personalities of the shorter chorale preludes which form the central part of the programme. These more intimate aspects of Bach's organ works can cause acoustic difficulties in recordings, but this is never a problem here. This is playing of artistry and sensitivity to be sure.

The Prelude and Fugue in E flat major is a substantial composition, of some sixteen minutes duration. It is commonly known in England as the 'St Anne' (though not in the documentation of this CD), because of the similarity between Bach's fugue subject and the first line of the hymn tune 'St Anne', probably composed by William Croft (1678-1727), to which the first line 'O God, our help in ages past' is sung. It is not thought that Bach was familiar with the hymn, however, so the similarity is merely a coincidence. Be that as it may, Weinberger performers the music with the utmost assurance, though (see comments above) the decision to spread the Prelude and the Fugue either side of the chorale preludes does rob the complete work of some of its majesty. It is better, on balance, to indulge the opportunity to reconnect the two.

The documentation 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

see also review by Chris Howell

 



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