the cover of this disc doesn't say so this is the 11th volume
in a series of recordings of the complete organ works by Bach.
biography of Hans Helmut Tillmanns in the booklet makes it crystal
clear what one can expect from the performances on this disc:
"In his interpretations he follows his great example and
teacher Professor Helmut Walcha". I find this surprising:
most first-rate teachers - which the late Helmut Walcha certainly
was - don't expect their pupils to copy them, but rather encourage
them to develop their own style of playing. Would Helmut Walcha
have been happy to see someone trying to emulate him?
remarks also tell us that the insights of the historical performance
practice are completely ignored here. It doesn't come as a surprise
that Tillmanns prefers two modern organs by the Danish builder
Marcussen to record this selection.
most prominent characteristics of Tillmanns' interpretations
are a consistent legato playing and changes of registration
within pieces. The booklet doesn't contain any information about
the registrations used nor does it provide the listener with
any details about the music.
preludes and fugues are relative early works, written in the
'stylus phantasticus'; the trademark of the North-German organ
school. The features of this style are frequent runs, sudden
shifts in tempo and rhythm and the alternation of imitative
and free improvisatory sections. All these features are seriously
jeopardised here as a result of the Tillmanns’ undifferentiated
playing style. All contrasts are flattened out mainly due to
the lack of articulation and breathing spaces.
chorale-based pieces do not fare any better: the chorale melodies
are played in a way which ignores their vocal character. If
one did not know that these are hymns one would not be able
guess from these performances.
addition to all this misery the technical quality is unacceptable.
At the start one gets the impression this is a mono recording
as the sound spectrum is very narrow. It gets a little better
later on, but the sound quality is not up to today's standard.
The second track (the fugue from BWV 532) is distorted by a
pretty strong background noise. There are even crackles in several
tracks which suggests one is listening to old vinyl. And then
some cuts in the recording are clearly audible, in particular
in the first track.
the end these technical deficiencies do not really matter, as
the interpretation does not do any justice to the character
of these organ works by Bach.