Bach: Concerto in D minor, BWV 974; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

LABELS: Vanguard
WORKS: Concerto in D minor, BWV 974; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538
PERFORMER: Jacques van Oortmerssen (organ)
The historic 17th-century organ at Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark, has undergone many a facelift since its original construction, but as both of these recordings made on it demonstrate, any alterations to the organ have certainly not been to the detriment of the tonal quality of this fine instrument. This is an organ that speaks with a clear, unsullied voice, giving an eloquent means of expression to the Baroque repertoire.


For Priory, Kristian Olesen, who oversaw the completion of the organ’s latest reconstruction, displays a close affinity with the music of this period, and his responsive awareness of the ebb and flow of the music, particularly that of Buxtehude, is especially engaging. Listen to Buxtehude’s chorale prelude ‘Herr Jesu Christ…’ for the expressive freedom Olesen draws from the music. The repeated echo effects, which form an important stylistic feature of this music, are well captured and, indeed, overall the sound of the organ is splendidly realistic.


The microphones have been brought forward for the latest in the complete survey of Bach’s organ works by Jacques van Oortmerssen, and the Roskilde organ sounds altogether bigger and weightier here. Unfortunately, Van Oortmerssen’s rather stolid, literal approach to Bach sounds more prosaic than poetic, and conveys little of the beauty within. However, the ‘Dorian’ Toccata and Fugue is crisply articulated. Stephen Haylett