Bach: Partite diverse: Christ, der du bist der helle Tag, BWV 766; O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767; Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig, BWV 768

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Partite diverse: Christ, der du bist der helle Tag, BWV 766; O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767; Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig, BWV 768
PERFORMER: Ton Koopman (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-24829-2
For this listener at least, what marks out Koopman’s complete cycle of Bach’s organ works in particular is his judicious choice of instruments on which to record. This latest offering revisits the 1766 Riepp organ of Ottobeuren Abbey used for his recording of the Orgelbüchlein in Volume 8 of the series, and for good measure, introduces the Abbey’s other delightful, smaller Riepp organ completed in the same year. Bach’s four sets of chorale variations have never achieved the popularity they deserve, perhaps due to the unjust claim that they are early works which, for the most part, lack a pedal line and are therefore insubstantial. Koopman throws these doubts to the wind with playing which constantly thrills and delights, employing so effectively the seemingly inexhaustible supply of colours and contrasts available to him, and yet sustaining a sense of underlying unity and structure. Listen to the final four variations of ‘Sei, gegrusset, Jesu gutig’ as a fine example of Koopman’s ability to characterise each variation whilst moving the momentum of the music naturally towards the climax of the final thrilling variation.

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The collection of chorale preludes which make up the rest of the programme are played with a wonderful sense of line and contour, and it is good to note that Koopman’s occasional over-indulgence in ornamentation is largely absent. Stephen Haylett