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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Orgelwerke Live

CD 1

Toccata und Fuge d-Moll BWV 565 [8:48]
Partite diverse sopra 'Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gutig' BWV 768 [18:39]
Präludium und Fuge D-Dur BWV 532 [9:47]
Choralbearbeitung 'Erbarm' dich mein, O Herre Gott' BWV 721 [5:08]
Präludium und Fuge G-Dur BWV 541 [7:47]
Allabreve D-dur BWV 589 [4:57]
Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter BWV 650 [3:34]
Passacaglia c-Moll [13:33]
CD 2
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c1637-1707)

Präludium und Fuge e-Moll [9:07]
Präludium und Fuge fis-Moll [7:51]
Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706)

Praludium d-Moll [5:04]

Pastortale [sic] F-Dur [10:51]
Präludium und Fuge g-Moll BWV 535 [8:21]
Fuge c-Moll BWV 575 [4:04]
Komm', Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist BWV 667 [2:25]
Präludium und Fuge A-Dur BWV 536 [6:23]
Choralvorspiel 'O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross' BWV 622 [5:35]
Präludium und Fuge e-Moll BWV 548 [13:20]
CD 3

Triosonate I Es-Dur BWV 525 [11:51]
Triosonate II c-Moll BWV 526 [12:04]
Triosonate III d-Moll BWV 527 [12:51]
Triosonate IV e-Moll BWV 528 [11:10]
Triosonate V C-Dur BWV 529 [15:15]
Triosonate VI G-Dur BWV 530 [12:55]
Heinz Wunderlich (organ)
rec. St Jacobi, Hamburg, 1976-1982 ADD
ORGANUM OGM 253017 [3 CDs: 72:19 + 73:06 + 76:40]


The Ohringen-based record label Organum have recently produced a number of fascinating and sometimes innovative new releases. These well-presented and expertly conceived discs provide a worthy body of recordings. They must be counted a German rival to the Paris-based label Hortus as the outstanding producer of organ CDs in Europe at present.

The recordings featured here are of huge interest on so many levels. They feature Heinz Wunderlich, organist of the famous Arp Schnitger organ in the St Jacobi, Hamburg between 1959 and 1982. They were recorded live in concert on 'his' organ during the last seven years of his tenure there. Wunderlich, born in 1919, is surely one of the last remaining students of Karl Straube. This in itself is remarkable, and has inevitably led to Wunderlich's Reger interpretations gaining huge admiration. As a Bach interpreter, Straube's influence is much less keenly felt - one senses indeed that Wunderlich's exposure to the Hamburg organ, allied to the tidal wave that was the post-war Orgelbewegung, all but obscured the philosophy of his great teacher, at least in terms of the performance of baroque music. Wundlerlich's performances are never less than elegant while remaining very much children of their time. His articulation-vocabulary and use of the organ are very much in line with the first generation of organ-reform thinkers. Indeed Straube isn't a million miles after all away in the myriad of registration changes in the Passacaglia! Gap registrations abound, especially in the trio sonatas on the third disc, as do plenum registrations without the underpinning of the pedal reeds. And yet, even now, Wunderlich's considered tempi and attention to detail ensure compelling listening. Incidentally, the trio sonatas are presented with a number of repeats missing. Did Wunderlich play them like this or were they edited out in order to fit all six onto a single disc?

The other outstanding element of this recording is, of course, the organ. This is the famous Schnitger in Hamburg recorded before its restoration by Jürgen Ahrend. As such this is fascinating document of a sound lost. It is always interesting to hear such a recording, if only to try to determine whether the stunning potential which Ahrend unleashed was as audible before he got there. In this case the answer is a resounding yes. Even in its effectively un-restored state, with its equal temperament, cheap post-war case pipes and screaming mixtures, the organ was a compelling entity.

If you already have Marie-Claire Alain, and Helmut Walcha, and maybe even some Anton Heiller or Lionel Rogg - especially his first cycle from Zurich - this will make for fascinating comparison. Congratulations to Organum for bringing this highly significant sound document to a wider audience.

Chris Bragg


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