Bach: Trio Sonatas for Organ, BWV 525-530

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WORKS: Trio Sonatas for Organ, BWV 525-530
PERFORMER: Simon Preston (organ)
It is well documented that the trio sonatas of Bach were used as a teaching aid for his son Wilhelm Friedemann, and indeed they present the performer with a formidable technical challenge. Yet, like the piano études of Chopin and Debussy, it is only with strong, characterful playing that their true glory can be revealed.

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Simon Preston, at the Klais organ of St Katharina’s, Blankenburg, displays some outstanding musicianship here. He commands such a technique that it enables the various influences on Bach’s style to guide and colour the music. Thus the aria-like slow movements of the Second and Fourth Sonatas unravel a lovely sense of line and freedom, and the sparkling concertante outer movements are delivered with flair. The only reservation concerns the lack of an appropriate reed stop, which would have added a little spice. Nevertheless, a delightful, well-recorded disc.

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Peter Hurford, having made a complete Bach cycle for Decca in the 1980s, has now embarked on a fascinating project of recordings on Baroque instruments for EMI. The three-manual organ of the Martinikerk at Groningen in Holland, has undergone several transformations, culminating in a total restoration by Jurgen Ahrend in 1983-4, and I must say it comes over very well on this recording. The all-Bach programme includes popular chorale-preludes, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. Hurford plays with his customary awareness of style and structure, and makes good use of the range of colours at his disposal. Stephen Haylett