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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Complete Organ Works

David Goode (organ)
rec. 2015-2016, Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD640 [16 CDs: 1060 mins]

Following a recital given by David Goode at Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge in 2014, he was asked by the Director of Music, Stephen Layton if he would record the complete organ works of J.S. Bach on the chapel’s magnificent Metzler organ, something not done before. Conscious of the fact that he would be entering an already crowded playing field, he initially hesitated, but then accepted the challenge, reckoning he could offer his own ‘take’ on this fathomless treasure of music. Work began in January 2015 and ended in August 2016. The recordings were originally issued as separate volumes, but now Signum Classics have released them as a 16 CD set. At the start of the project, Goode made the wise decision to present each disc as a recital, mixing preludes and fugues, choral preludes, trios, concertos etc. to offer the listener an element of variety, and I think this approach works very well. I’ll focus my review on some of the highlights.

What better way to commence than with the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, which opens CD 1. It’s probably the most popular and well-known of the organ works. It’s given a thrilling performance, combining dazzling technical prowess and thrusting rhythm. That same rhythmic exactitude underpins the other Toccata and Fugue in D minor ‘Dorian’, BWV 538, where Goode brings out the magisterial character of the fugue. Grandeur is also a feature of the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major BWV 564. The improvisatory Toccata gives way to an exquisite Adagio, which recalls to mind Albinoni. The work ends with a jubilant fugue, showcasing the bright sonority of this glorious instrument. In the Toccata and Fugue in F, BWV 540, the Toccata has lusty rhythmic drive and forward momentum. The harmonically adventurous double fugue provides a striking contrast. The majestic account of the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor must be one of the finest I’ve ever heard. The Passacaglia reveals the composer’s skill at embellishing and embroidering each of the twenty variations on the theme. Goode’s ingenious registration choices, add both colour and spice in abundance.

CDs 15 and 16 contain the Clavier-Übung III, written in the form of an Organ Mass. Twenty-one chorale preludes, BWV 669–689 are bookended by the prelude and ‘St Anne’ fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552. The five-voice triple Fugue is popularly referred to as ‘St. Anne’, because its subject sounds similar to an English hymn tune with that name. The Prelude is stately, and Goode’s dotted French overture rhythms are crisp and incisive. A favorite of mine is the Prelude and fugue in E minor, BWV 548. It’s sometimes called ‘the Wedge’ due to the chromatic outward motion of the fugue theme. The intricacies of this complex work are adeptly addressed in this gleaming rendition. The Prelude and Fugue for organ in G major, BWV 550 is a colourful work which exudes joy and contentment. It calls for some deft pedal work. Twelve bars into the piece there’s a lengthy pedal solo, covering more than two octaves. Throughout the remainder of the work the pedal is utilized to full capacity, and Goode addresses its challenges with consummate skill and ease.

The organ sonatas, BWV 525–530 are a collection of six sonatas in trio sonata form. Each of the sonatas has three movements, with three independent parts in the two manuals and obbligato pedal. The collection was put together in Leipzig in the late 1720s and contains reworkings of prior compositions by Bach in addition to some newly composed material. The sixth sonata, BWV 530 is the only one in which all three movements were specially composed. Goode’s clean-cut delivery reveals the delights and charms of these beguiling scores. I’ve always enjoyed Herrick (Hyperion) in these works, but the performances here make an equal bid to charm the listener. No. 6, for me, is the most attractive, and this spirited reading exudes joy and vitality, a quality I find sadly lacking in Helmut Walcha’s 1950s recording. For me, Goode falls midway between Herrick and Walcha.

A collection of previously unknown choral preludes were discovered at Yale in the early 1980’s. The manuscript was compiled by Johann Gottfried Neumeister in the last decade of the 18th century. Of the eighty-two pieces, thirty eight are attributed to Bach. They are considered to date from the composer’s early years. Noted mainly for their simplicity, many can be performed without pedals. Goode’s nicely paced readings, and imaginative registration choices, exploit the Metzler’s vast colour range to the full.

It was Albert Schweitzer who described Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) as ‘the most simple imaginable and at the same time the most perfect’. It consists of a set of forty-six chorale preludes for organ written to introduce the sung chorales in the Lutheran services. Although short pieces, Goode’s ability to reveal each as a gem adds to their allure, with his extensive range of registration choices. Some of the choral preludes are relatively simple, for instance Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland and Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ. Others are more florid, such as Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar with its falling scale passages. Christum wir sollen loben schon is grand and solemn, whilst In dir ist Freude is exultant.

Trinity’s impressive Metzler organ ranks as one of the finest in the country, and the Signum engineers have done a sterling job in capturing its magnificence to stunning effect. Presentation is first class, with 16 CDs housed in a luxury box. The booklet, in English only, runs to 135 pages. George Parson’s scholarly annotations discuss each of the works played, in addition to an interesting discussion on current Bach scholarship. At the back of the booklet, there’s a useful alphabetical index of works and a BWV number index of works, each work referenced to the particular CD where it can be found. This Bach cycle certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with some of my favorite traversals, including those by Christopher Herrick, Peter Hurford, Lionel Rogg and André Isoir. Bach has been exceptionally well served through this release, and is highly recommended.

Stephen Greenbank

CD 1 [71:24]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 712 & 727
Pièce d’Orgue (‘Fantasia in G’), BWV 572
Prelude & Fugue in E minor (‘Little’), BWV 533
Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 546
Six Schübler Chorales
Sonata No. 1 in E flat, BWV 525
Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
CD 2 [63:29]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 690, 691 721 & 731
Concerto in G (after Johann Ernst), BWV 592
Fugue in B minor on a theme of Corelli, BWV579
Prelude & Fugue in C, BWV 547
Prelude & Fugue in D, BWV 532
Prelude & Fugue in G minor, BWV 535
Sonata No. 2 in C minor, BWV 526
CD 3 [67:50]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 709, 711, 715, 717, 767 & 726
Fantasia in C minor, BWV 1121
Fantasia in G minor, BWV 542 (i)
Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 (ii)
Fugue in G minor, BWV 578
Prelude & Fugue in C, BWV 545
Toccata & Fugue in F, BWV 540
CD 4 [61:43]
Leipzig Chorales 1 – 12
CD 5 [59:02]
Leipzig Chorales 13 – 19
Neumeister Chorales 1 – 10
CD 6 [73:48]
Neumeister Chorales 11 – 36
Partita on ‘Ach, was soll ich…’, BWV 770
CD 7 [68:56]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 696, 697, 698, 699, 701,
703, 704, 700, 710, 722, 723 , 729, 733,
738 & 769
Fugue in G (‘Jig’), BWV 577
Pastorale in F, BWV 590
Prelude & Fugue in A, BWV 536
Prelude & Fugue in G , BWV 550
CD 8 [67:51]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 713, 735, 734, 739 & 737
Concerto in D minor (after Vivaldi), BWV 596
Fugue on a theme by Legrenzi, BWV 574
Prelude (Toccata) & Fugue in E, BWV 566
Prelude & Fugue in G, BWV 541
Sonata No. 3 in D minor, BWV 527
CD 9 [70:47]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 714, 728 & 736
Concerto in A minor (after Vivaldi), BWV 593
Fugue in F, BWV anh. 42
Prelude & Fugue in E minor (‘Wedge’), BWV 548
Prelude in G, BWV 568
Toccata & Fugue in D minor (‘Dorian’),
BWV 538 Sonata No. 4 in E minor, BWV 528,
Trio in G, BWV 1027a
CD 10[73:37]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 702, 720, 730, 740
Fantasia & Fugue in C minor, BWV 537
Fantasia in G, BWV 571
Partita on ‘Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig’, BWV 768
Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Prelude & Fugue in C, BWV 531
Trio in C minor (after Fasch), BWV 585
Trio in G (after Telemann), BWV 586
CD 11[71:20]
Aria in F (after Couperin), BWV 587
Chorales, BWV Nos. 694, 695, 707, 724 & 725
Concerto in C (after Johann Ernst), BWV 595
Fantasia in C minor, BWV 562
Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor, BWV 582
Prelude & Fugue in D minor (‘Fiddle’), BWV 539
Sonata No. 5 in C, BWV 529
CD 12[69:23]
Chorales, BWV Nos. 706a, 718 & 732
Fantasia & Imitatio in B minor, BWV 563
Fantasia in C, BWV 570
Partita on ‘Christ, der du bist…’, BWV 766
CD13 [73:05]
Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 549
Prelude in A minor, BWV 569
Sonata No. 6 in G, BWV 530
Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C, BWV 564
Trio in D minor, BWV 583
CD 13[73.05]
Orgelbüchlein Nos. 1 – 46
CD 14[67:43]
Allabreve in D, BWV 589
Canzona in D minor, BWV 588
Chorales, BWV Nos. 705 & 716
Concerto in C (after Vivaldi), BWV 594
Fugue in C minor, BWV 575
Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 551
Prelude & Fugue in B minor, BWV 544
Prelude & Fugue in F minor, BWV 534
CD 15[60:02]
Clavierübung III
CD 16[40:40]
Clavierübung III

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