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Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706)
Organ Jewels of the 17th Century
Toccata in e minor [1:45]
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund [2:08]
Christus, der ist mein Leben [6:20]
Von Himmel Hoch, da komm ich her [4:38]
Wir glauben allí an einen Gott [3:42]
Ricercar in c minor [5:20]
Hexachordum Apollinis : Aria Sebaldina in f minor [6:35]
Wie schŲn leuchtet der Morgenstern [3:20]
Vater unser im Himmelreich [2:48]
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (Chorale) [4:26]
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig in f minor [6:35]
Bernard Lagacť (organ)
rec. St. Bonaventure de Rosemont, Montreal, Canada, 1 March 1971. ADD
2xHD 2XHDJD1033 [50:16]

Download only: reviewed in lossless format from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, NO booklet, but see below).

Pachelbelís Canon has caught the musical publicís imagination, especially that of ClassicFM listeners, to such an extent that you could easily think it was his only work of value: thereís even an RCA CD entitled Pachelbelís Greatest Hit on which it receives a variety of performances.

This recording of his organ music joins a list of CDs which demonstrate why such a belief is untenable.† With excellent performances from the recent past by a distinguished organist, very well refurbished, it serves as an excellent introduction to his prolific keyboard output. Iím not sure of the provenance of this new 2xHD refurbishment of a set of 1971 recordings, though Bernard Lagacť made a number of distinguished recordings of the likes of Couperin which were released in the UK on the Oryx and Calliope labels and subsequently on Analekta CDs.† I believe that this recording was released on an Arion LP which was never available in the UK.† The notes speak of both 15 i.p.s. tape and LP sources.

The only reason not to give an outright recommendation is that you may well wish to go on to investigate Pachelbelís considerable output via the 5-CD set released last year as Volume 1 of his organ music, on the CPO label, which Johan van Veen made a Recording of the Month (777 556-2 Ė review).† Thereís also a Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm series of recordings of his music underway: Volume 2, combining organ and harpsichord music was also praised by Johan van Veen Ė review.† Iíve no quarrel with 2xHDís description of the music as Ďjewelsí but they arenít the only ones in the box.

Most of the music here is liturgical in nature, consisting of organ preludes appropriate to a particular season like the more familiar Bach chorale preludes.† The opening Toccata and the two central works, the Ricercar and Aria Sebaldina, however, are secular.† The Aria is the final movement of the Hexachordum Apollinis (1699), a work equally at home on the organ and the harpsichord and described as such in the first edition.† Thereís a recording of the complete Hexachordum by John Butt on Harmonia Mundi from around 1990, one of the earliest albums made by a performer whose Bach Passions and Well-tempered Klavier on Linn have since been hailed in all quarters.† HMU907029, download only Ė available from, mp3 and lossless, stream from Qobuz: NO booklet from either.

Butt plays the music on a modern copy of a North German organ of the time.† Though Pachelbel hailed from further South, that may seem more appropriate than Lagacťís French-style instrument, but as the Hexachordum requires light registration, itís of little importance.† His performance is bright and attractive; though itís faster than Buttís on paper, the difference is less apparent in the hearing and I enjoyed listening to both.

The chorale preludes receive equally adept performances.† You may well recognize the underlying chorales of the better-known examples such as the Easter Christ lag in Todesbanden.† 2xHD label track 10 as O Lamm Gottes (choir) but no choir is involved; Lagacť plays the chorale tune ahead of the prelude on the same theme which follows on the final track.

You would hardly think that the recording dated from 1971, though itís very naughty of some dealers Ė not 2xHD themselves who clearly proclaim the word Ďanalogí or Ė to describe it as a Ďnative DSDí production: itís ADD.† Itís hardly inferior to the Harmonia Mundi of twenty years later, especially as heard in lossless sound.† The mp3, too, is good of its kind.

Thereís a booklet of notes from Qobuz and offered free by 2xHD Ė none from Ė but itís pretty rudimentary.† Surely itís mandatory for an organ recording to list the specification of the instrument if not the registration of individual pieces?† It would have been good, too, to know which of the many settings Pachelbel made of most of these chorale preludes is played here: it canít be just boring old reviewers who like to know which is which, as on the CPO recording where the POP numbers are given.

For all my complaints about the lack of the booklet and its inadequacy when found, I very much enjoyed listening to this album.† Iím pleased that 2xHD have rescued these performances from oblivion.† Hitherto all their offerings that Iíve heard have been refurbishments of Naxos recordings; I hope that they will continue to offer more such lost treasures.

By the time that you read this, Easter will be over but it will still be Eastertide.† I recommend following up Pachelbelís organ music with his Easter cantatas on Ricercar RIC255, as reviewed in December 2008 (Christ lag in Todesbanden from this album also included in bargain 7-CD set, RIC344 Ė review and review).

Brian Wilson

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