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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Copyright J.S.Bach
Concerto after Antonio Vivaldi D minor, BWV 596 [11:13]
Trio Sonata No. 4 E minor, BWV 528 [9:57]
Ertöt uns durch dein Güte E flat major, BWV 22,5 [1:51]
Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter G major, BWV 650 [3:38]
Praeludium D minor, BWV 1001 [4:16]
Fuga D minor, BWV 539,2 [5:39]
Toccata (arranged for violin) A minor,BWV 565 [3:00]
Fuga (arranged for violin) A minor, BWV 565 [7:58]
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland G minor, BWV 659 [4:O4]
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland G minor, BWV 660 [2:37]
Jesu, meine Freude (arranged for organ) E minor, BWV 227 [12:54]
Concerto after Alessandro Marcello D minor, BWV 974 [11:23]
Annegret Siedel (baroque violins), Ute Gremmel-Geuchen (organ)
rec. 2020, Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany
AEOLUS AE11281 SACD [78:45]

J.S. Bach was responsible for many arrangements, transcriptions and ‘parodies’ of his own works, in addition to keyboard arrangements of other’s compositions. This included borrowing themes for his fugues. Violinist Annegret Siedel and organist Ute Gremmel-Geuchen have put together a delightful programme, embracing arrangements by Bach himself besides several more recent ones. There was an established North German organ tradition of combining the organ with melodic instruments, particularly the violin. It’s significant that the organ and violin were two instruments the composer excelled in.

Two imposing concertos bookend the disc. As a curtain raiser we have the impressive Concerto in D minor, BWV 596, which Bach based on a particular highlight of Vivaldi’s groundbreaking L’Estro Armonico. The outer movements conform to the original, with the violin contributing an expressive solo part in the central slow movement. The final work on the disc is again in the key of D minor, the Concerto after Alessandro Marcello, BWV 974. Marcello’s outstanding work was a concerto for oboe. Bach recognized both its quality and potential, and his arrangement adds some ingenious ornamentation to the Adagio middle movement. It’s here that the solo violin makes an eloquent contribution.

It was with some trepidation that I initially approached the solo violin arrangement of the celebrated Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  My fears were soon allayed, however. The arrangement, in A minor, is by Annegret Siedel. There are reasons to suggest that the work was not originally written for the organ, nor composed in the key of D minor. Some scholars have pointed to the fact that it’s too unsophisticated to have flowed from the pen of Bach, with many dynamics and markings unidiomatic. No original manuscript survives so, for the present time, the jury’s out on this one. Siedel adds her own embellishments and ornamentation, and the whole thing works rather well. On the other side of the coin is Gustav Leonhardt’s arrangement for organ of the prelude and fugue from the Solo Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001. Again it’s equally convincing, with Ute Gremmel-Geuchen delivering a thoroughly stylish rendition, with the polyphonic strands in the fugue clearly revealed.
Three arrangements of the Advent chorale Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland were penned by Bach during his Weimar years. Aeolus’ producer Christoph Martin Frommen has arranged two of them, namely BWV 659 and 660 for violin and organ. The former is the better known, and it’s distinctive, noble melody sits well with the violin. Seven excerpts from Jesu meine Freude, BWV 227 have been transcribed for organ by Alfred Bertholet. They form a delightful selection, with Gremmel-Geuchen’s colourful registration choices adding to the allure.

Annegret Siedel uses two baroque violins on the recording. There’s a c1770 instrument by Leopold Widhalm of Nurenberg and a 1670 Jacob Steiner of Absam.

These splendid arrangements are given compelling and persuasive interpretations. The recorded sound, especially the balance between the two instruments, couldn’t be bettered, with the baroque violin in no way drowned out.  Ute Gremmel-Geuchen plays the Christian Ludwig König/Verschueren organ (1752/2000), situated in the Paterskirche in Kempen. It’s a wonderfully rich-sounding instrument, whose specifications are included in the excellent accompanying liner notes.

Stephen Greenbank

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