WORKS: Trio Sonatas, BWV 525, 526, 527, 528, 529, 530
PERFORMER: Kay Johannsen (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 98.113
Decisions about ‘aesthetic’ value for money are never harder to make than when familiar repertoire – particularly the most revered pieces of the ‘great’ composers – is investigated. Bach’s music naturally falls into this category, and his Trio Sonatas for organ are more or less at the front of the queue. Having become exalted over the years on technical and esoteric grounds, the pressure is on for any new performer to manufacture unimpaired abstraction and refinement in his/her performances. To use Zelter’s words (about Bach) to Goethe, the ‘divine phenomenon, clear, yet inexplicable’ is nowhere more apparent than in these works.
Fully in control of the 1992 Metzler/Dietikon organ at Stein am Rhein, Kay Johannsen encapsulates many of the qualities associated with these fecund pieces. His tempos are convincing and the differences in articulation between the faster and slower movements are equally well judged. There could, perhaps, be more light and shade in the chosen articulations for the faster passagework, but Johannsen’s sense of vitality and elegance overrides any uniformity. Unfussy and undogmatic as it is, I look forward to the durability of this recording. Andrew McCrea