Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548; Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546; Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 769; Toccata in C minor, BWV 911; Toccata in E minor, BWV 914

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548; Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546; Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 769; Toccata in C minor, BWV 911; Toccata in E minor, BWV 914
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5606-07
Each of the two discs in this set forms a satisfying recital, the first including celebrated works like the ‘Wedge’ Prelude and Fugue and the Canonic Variations on ‘Vom Himmel hoch’, the second including less well-known pieces, mainly based on chorales, with brilliant toccatas to begin and end. The toccatas, as well as several other pieces, were originally for harpsichord (or even clavichord) but work well on the organ, and as so often, some of the attributions to Bach are doubtful.

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No matter, most people will be making some new friends here, like the lively setting of ‘Nun lobe meine Seele den Herrn’ in which Bowyer picks out the tune on an intriguing stop which sounds as if it has a peg on its nose. His registrations on the moderate-sized Marcussen organ in St. John, Odense, are consistently resourceful and effective, and the comparatively light, transparent sound of the instrument is given a resonant perspective, while preserving perfect clarity.

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Bowyer is a lively player, and capable – in the Adagio section of the C minor Toccata, for instance – of very natural expressiveness. But he’s also inclined to rush, and sometimes I wish he would relax and allow a tempo to settle a bit. His own programme notes are friendly and helpful. Adrian Jack