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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Praeludium und Fuge a-moll BWV 551 [5'42]
Praeludium und Fuge G-dur BWV 550 [7'42]

In dir ist Freude BWV 615 [3'00]
In dulci Jubilo BWV 729 [2'07]
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein BWV 734 [2'38]
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her BWV 738 [2'57]
Vater unser in Himmelreich BWV 737 [2'57]
Fantasia con Imitatione BWV 563 [3'47]
Fuge c-moll BWV 575 [5'00]
Kyrie drei Sãtze BWV 672-674 [3'54]

Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott BWV 721 [4'09]
Ach Gott und Herr BWV 714 [1'03]
Christus, der uns selig macht BWV 620 [2'08]
Wir glauben all an einen Gott BWV 680 [3'33]
Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr BWV 715 [1'57]
Praeludium a-moll BWV 569 [4'40]
Hans Helmut Tillmanns, organs
Rec: Hasselt Cathedral, Belgium, St Laurentius, Merzenich, Germany, Unknown location, March, 2004. DDD

This is a very strange release indeed. We are told little about Mr Tillmanns except that "in his interpretations he follows his great example and teacher Helmut Walcha." Well indeed he does. It is astonishing that in 2004 a Walcha disciple should choose to record Bach, indeed his complete organ works in addition to this disc, in the manner of Walcha, especially as Walcha's hugely important and pioneering Bach recordings are again available, digitally re-mastered. Tillmanns' playing is a throw-back to the 1950s and 1960s; his articulation is basically legato, his registrations rather neo-baroque, (lots of 8' and 2', even in 'plenum' pieces, manual changes etc abound), his accents very equal, and his rallentandi, stellar. The result is, to today's ears, stodgy and un-interesting.

Of the organs, well, they represent a curious choice. The late Flemish Classical Houdtappel organ, 1791-3, is a fine instrument of its type, but not an obvious Bach organ. The Merzenich instrument, built by the Belgian builder Schumacher in 1997, attempts to expand the local Maas/Rhine style of the 18th century. It sounds well enough on the basis of the few pieces performed here. The third organ, built by the same company in 1983 is a house organ in an unspecified location. It has a curious specification, (the only 16' in the pedal is a fractional length reed for instance), and a not terribly distinguished sound. If indeed it was recorded in a house, I suspect some slight electronic acoustical enhancement has taken place.

The booklet is passable, though there is at least one BWV error, this 'In dulci Jubilo' is not 729. The recording is reasonable with some occasional amateurish editing. Not at all recommendable.

Chris Bragg

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