LABELS: Archiv Originals
WORKS: Schübler Chorales, BWV 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 650; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565; Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat, BWV 525; Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV 552; Chorale Partita, BWV 768
PERFORMER: Helmut Walcha (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 457 704-2 ADD mono/stereo Reissue (1959, 1964)
Walcha was a remarkable man. Blind from adolescence, he recorded the complete organ works of Bach, and other things besides, from memory, having learnt them all from Braille. He was one of the leading organists of his generation, rather severe and strait-laced in his interpretations, playing in long, arching, often seamless phrases, with metronomic precision and a commanding authority. My generation was brought up on his closely miked LPs.
Not surprisingly, with a varied programme like this, there’s no other directly comparable CD, but André Isoir’s includes the two longest items – the Schübler chorale preludes and the Sei gegrüsset Partita. Isoir is unaccountably neglected in the UK. His complete Bach series, on 15 CDs, available separately, is one of the very finest, and in his eighth volume, in echoey acoustics, he finds more variety than Walcha does. However, in the given programme, Walcha will do very nicely for me. Wadham Sutton