Bach: Toccata in F sharp minor, BWV 910; Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 550; Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545; Trio Sonata in D minor, BWV 527; Trio Sonata in E minor, BWV 528

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Toccata in F sharp minor, BWV 910; Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 550; Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545; Trio Sonata in D minor, BWV 527; Trio Sonata in E minor, BWV 528
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5647-48
Comparisons between different schools of Bach interpretation among modern day organists invariably bring to light a considerable range of approaches to performance, and these two recent releases, both part of ongoing complete surveys of Bach’s organ music, provide intriguing examples of this polarity of approach.

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Choice of instrument, registration, tempo and features of style contrast sharply between the recordings. Weinberger plays on a newly restored and well recorded Christoph Treutmann organ of 1734, and I have to admit to a sinking feeling as soon as the striding pedal line of the opening Prelude and Fugue in C ushered in an unyielding, graceless performance, with no relief from an incessant forte dynamic, even in the fugue. Although his selection of chorale preludes gave him the opportunity to display a more sensitive handling of the instrument, a rather cerebral, even perfunctory air pervades even the songful ‘Herzlich tut mich verlangen’. The Preludes and Fugues in D and E minor come off rather better.

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Bowyer’s disc, recorded on the 1962 Marcussen organ which plays host to his other recordings in the series, shows altogether more vital playing, for example in the same Prelude and Fugue in C as in Weinberger’s recital. The notes spring to life more vividly and there is a wonderful sense of spontaneous re-creation running through even the well-known pieces such as the Fantasia in C minor. Stephen Haylett