MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C, BWV564 [14:45]
Organ Concerto in a minor (after Vivaldi), BWV593 [12:09]
Leipzig Chorale Prelude, BWV654, ‘Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele’ [6:24]
Prelude and Fugue in b minor, BWV544 [13:39]
Chorale Prelude, BWV682. ‘Vater unser im Himmelreich’ [6:46]
Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV541 [7:59]
Chorale Prelude, BWV622, ‘O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß’ [5:31]
Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor, BWV582 [13:10]
David Goode (Silbermann Organ, 1711-14, modified 1738)
rec. Freiberg Cathedral, 4-6 July 2010. DDD
Booklet includes organ specification
SIGNUM SIGCD261 [80:26]

Experience Classicsonline

I was about to write that this recording came fresh from David Goode’s success as organist in the much-praised Hyperion recording of Havergal Brian’s Proms 2011 Gothic Symphony – see review (Recording of the Month), review, December 2011/2 Download Roundup (Download of the Month) and January 2012/2 Download Roundup – except that the Signum recording was actually made a year earlier.
Having listened to the recording as streamed from the Naxos Music Library, I was pleased to see the CD appear on my doormat as part of my allocation; had it not done so, I would have obtained and reviewed the download in my Download Roundup, which gives away, of course, at the outset my recommendation of performance, chosen instrument and recording. If you don’t want my detailed reasons, let me recommend that you obtain this recording in one form or another; the CD, of course, sounds more opulent than the NML streamed version, but that’s good enough to enjoy the performances and to assure me that the download from in best-quality mp3 will not be far behind. You’ll miss out on the booklet, but that’s available from the Signum web page – here – where you can also hear samples and where I note that the spelling Freiberg is ‘corrected’ to Freiburg. Actually both Freiberg and Freiburg have cathedrals, but it’s the Saxon Freiberg that houses the 1714 Silbermann organ. Freiburg is more famous musically for its eponymous Baroque Orchestra.
The organ itself is as much the star of the recording as the composer and organist. A Silbermann organ is many respects the ideal instrument for Bach, whose music in many ways had outgrown the North German instruments which are suitable for Buxtehude and his predecessors, and this is a particularly fine specimen. The Freiberg organ was employed by Marie-Claire Alain for many of her Bach recordings: you can find a one-hour recital of her playing it one YouTube – here. Alain believed that Bach had definitely played this instrument – see her interview for The Organhere. – and see below for a budget 2-CD set of her Bach recordings.
Oliver Condy is less assertive in the Signum notes, contenting himself with the question ‘did [Bach] venture to Freiberg?’, but he is right in his well-argued belief that this is a fine instrument for Bach’s music, built and modified in his lifetime – and it emerged unscathed from WWII. The booklet contains the specification of the instrument, tuned a little above modern pitch at a’=476.3Hz and in modified mean-tone temperament. Somewhat neglected under the DDR, it’s now in fine fettle as heard on this recording.
My benchmark for recordings of Bach’s organ music is the wonderful and inexpensive complete collection played by Kevin Bowyer on Nimbus which was my Bargain of the Month in mp3 format some time ago: NI1721 [8 mp3 CDs, 31 hours], available direct from MusicWeb International for £23, post paid worldwide. (See my joint review with Kirk McElhearn – here.)
In BWV564 Goode and Bowyer agree fairly closely about the tempo of the central adagio, but Bowyer takes the opening toccata markedly faster (5:32) than Goode (6:10), while the exact opposite occurs in the concluding fugue (Bowyer 5:30, Goode 4:28). Heard one immediately after the other, the differences are noticeable, with Bowyer sounding lighter and more joyous than the slightly weightier and more thoughtful Goode performance of the toccata. Heard on its own, without any other performances in mind, however, there is no sense that Goode is ponderous here or that he takes the closing fugue too fast; I enjoyed his performance greatly and it sets the tone for the whole programme in style.
Both Goode and Bowyer play with sufficient Affekt in the central adagio without over-egging the emotional pudding. Hans Fagius in Volume 4 of his complete collection on BIS (BIS-CD-343/4) adopts tempi for the outer sections exactly mid-way between those of Goode and Bowyer and plays the adagio noticeably more slowly than either – just a tad too slowly for me, but then I listened to him after hearing the other two, which can over-emphasise small differences. If pressed to score these three performances I’d have to place Bowyer at the top of the list for performance, but Goode first for the quality of the organ and the use which he makes of its potential.
Bowyer’s nimble finger-work in the toccata is matched by Goode’s in the fugue. To complete my act of sitting on the fence, I enjoyed Fagius too; his tempi for the outer sections represent perhaps an ideal compromise. The Naxos Music Library, where these three performances and many others are available for comparison suggests an average timing for the complete work of 12:15, faster than any of these three and surely too fast.
My slight preference for Bowyer is more marked in BWV541: in both sections here Bowyer and Fagius (Volume 4 again) sound lighter and more joyful, capturing the vivace marking in the prelude, while Goode is a little weightier and more thoughtful without ever sounding ponderous.
Not surprisingly Bach was intrigued by the music of his older Italian contemporary Vivaldi to the extent that he recast his concerto for four violins as a concerto for four keyboard instruments and adapted some of Vivaldi’s concertos as organ works. BWV593 is an adaptation of RV522, Op.3/8. Here, unsurprisingly, it’s Bowyer who adopts the faster tempi, more in line with modern performances of Vivaldi’s original, but Goode is only seconds slower, with Fagius (Volume 4 again) slower than either in the first movement and splitting the difference in the other sections.
This time I listened to Fagius first so as not to be unfair to him by leaving him last. Even so, I thought his performance of the opening movement just a little too deliberate at 4:11 against Goode’s 4:04, with a really incisive opening statement, and Bowyer’s 3:59. If Bowyer scores overall because of his choice of tempo and lively finger-work, Goode is close on his heels in both departments – his opening sounds wonderfully clean by comparison with Bowyer’s uncharacteristically very slightly slurred phrasing – and ahead on points because of the versatility of the Silbermann organ.
Because of the nature of Bach’s adaptation it’s a little unfair to compare all three with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi in the original concerto except to note that they show all the organ versions a clean pair of heels and to say that I’m not sure now why I didn’t make their version Bargain of the Month when I reviewed it on a super-budget Virgin Classics 4-CD box of Op.3 and Op.8 (6484082 – see review).
I compared BWV544 with Volume 1 of the Lionel Rogg recordings which EMI have reissued on a pair of Gemini 2-CD sets and with Werner Jacob on an EMI Triple (see below for details of both). In the opening prelude there’s very little difference in tempi between Goode and Rogg but Goode is noticeably slower in the fugue and Jacob is considerably faster than either throughout. I’m inclined to rate Jacob’s exciting performance the best; in direct comparison both Goode and Rogg sound deliberate, though once again I could be very happy with either as heard on its own.
You can make these and other comparisons yourself if you subscribe to the Naxos Music Library, but if you do so, don’t follow the button to purchase the Jacob download from at a ridiculous £20.97 when the CD set costs around a third of that. (Currently around £7 from UK online suppliers.) Similarly, the Rogg is about half the price on CD of the download.
So far as such a thing is possible on a single CD, there’s a representative cross-section of JSB’s organ music here, though not including the Toccata and Fugue in d, BWV565, of which most music lovers will probably have at least one version already, and which may well not be an original Bach composition. With performances, recording and quality of presentation about as good as they get, despite my slight preferences for other versions in some cases, and bearing in mind the most generous playing time, this would make an excellent introduction to JSB’s organ music and an excellent adjunct to any collection, even for those who already have the complete works on the Nimbus recording.
Those considering making this Signum CD their first Bach organ recording music might well consider supplementing it with a super-budget 3-CD EMI Triple of Werner Jacob’s recordings (5093932: Bargain of the Month – see review) and/or with 2-CD budget sets from Lionel Rogg (EMI Gemini 2642892) and Marie-Claire Alain (Warner Classics Maestro 2564 689755) which I reviewed together here. Better still, go for the complete set from Kevin Bowyer on Nimbus (above).
Brian Wilson














Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.