Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 531; Prelude and Fugue in E, BWV 566; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Alba
WORKS: Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 531; Prelude and Fugue in E, BWV 566; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538
PERFORMER: Håkan Wikman (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: ABCD 117
One of the wonders of the organ world, the Schnitger organ at the Jacobikirche, Hamburg – restored to great acclaim by Jürgen Ahrend in 1993 – is always welcome on disc. Håkan Wikman has chosen an all-Bach programme for this instrument in which he interleaves several chorale settings with some of the composer’s most significant free works. It is nice to see the Preludes and Fugues BWV 531 and 566, works often neglected in such Bach anthologies, programmed for this recording, and also good to hear the sublime Canzona at the centre of the concert.

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There is some good playing to be heard here, but Wikman’s musical intentions are not always clear. One certainly senses something of a musicologically inspired mind at work in these performances, in that care is taken over details of performance practice e.g. tasteful registration, some good tempos, a sensible approach to articulation (which shows an awareness of the importance of note releases as well as attacks) etc. These elements, however, remain inchoate. The smaller-scale pieces fair well, but, lacking effective projection and, at this stage in this young player’s career, the rhetoric and rhythmical tightness they deserve, the free works fail to convey their power and dramatic scope. Andrew McCrea