LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542; Prelude & Fugue in B minor, BWV 544; Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
PERFORMER: Ton Koopman (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-94458-2 DDD
The current trend for recording complete cycles of Bach’s organ music has given the CD-buying public a real spread of stylistic approaches. Ton Koopman, never one to follow the musically beaten track, begins the first volume of his complete survey with a performance of BWV 542 which is so full of raw energy and delight it is almost irresistible. Double-dotted rhythms and heavily punctuated chords give the Fantasia enormous swagger and vitality. Fortunately, Koopman doesn’t take the Fugue at helter-skelter speed, and displays exemplary articulation. His use of ornamentation also works well here, but elsewhere on the disc I feel it does him few favours, such as within the strong, sinewy lines of the C minor Fantasia, BWV 562. The restored three-manual, early 18th-century Dutch organ is a bright yet utterly cohesive instrument. I hope he returns to it later in the series.
Kevin Bowyer’s playing, on the Marcussen organ which has served him well for his series (this is Vol. 6), is of a similarly highly charged nature. He eschews an ornamental style of playing – I actually miss a more florid line in the middle movement of BWV 564 – but otherwise this is a well-structured recital, full of insightful and authoritative playing. Stephen Haylett