WORKS: Schübler Chorales, BWV 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 650; Preludes and Fugues, BWV 544, 547, 531 & 895; Trio Sonata in G, BWV 1039; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538 (Dorian)
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5500/1
This two-disc set, which forms Vol. 8 of Kevin Bowyer’s complete survey, amply demonstrates the breadth and depth of his understanding of this repertoire. Technical brilliance and clarity of articulation one can take for granted from this artist, but beyond the notes there is a radiant spirit and joyful intent that pervade the music. Certainly, Bowyer’s playing can be seen to provide an antidote to past interpreters of Bach in the way it lifts a cloak of weightiness from the music, and there are some wonderful moments where Bowyer’s playing takes flight: listen especially to the filigree delicacy of ‘Kommst du nun, Jesu’ from the ‘Schübler’ Chorales.
Occasionally speed gets the better of Bowyer, for instance in the ‘Dorian’ Toccata, where his fleetness of touch seems at odds with the nobility of the music. In the same way, more breathing space in the Fantasia in C minor, BWV 537, would allow the quiet intensity of the music to surface more readily. All the other works on these discs are beautifully played and Bowyer conveys all the pathos and tenderness of the selected chorale preludes. The recorded sound is bright and full, demonstrating clearly the musical artistry of both instrument and player. Stephen Haylett