Bach: The Works for Organ Volume I

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: The Works for Organ Volume I
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI5280 DDD
Thirty-one-year-old organist Kevin Bowyer has already made a reputation for setting himself the kind of challenges that would make most organists blanch. He has championed the monumental organ symphonies of Sorabji and recorded organ music by Brahms and Alkan. But in embarking on a complete cycle of Bach’s organ works he has surely set himself the ultimate challenge for a recording artist.

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To open the series, he has opted for the ‘recital programme’ format, rather than focusing attention on one particular generic form, and Volume I provides an attractive shop window of Bach’s diverse styles for the inquisitive, if not yet commited purchaser.

Bowyer chooses to play a three-manual mechanical-action Marcusson organ, and it is indeed an excellent choice. The sound is clear and bright, and the acoustics perfect for good articulation in fast passage-work. Kevin Bowyer’s playing is stylish throughout, but most especially in the show-piece items which frame the programme.

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The opening rhetorical flourishes of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor WWV 565 which (typically) introduces the programme really cut through the air, and the Fugue is taken at a cracking pace. The Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV 542 is played with similar flair and imagination. The only disappointment overall is in the Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat, which is rather strait-laced and lacking in character. Stephen Haylett