Bach: Arrangements from concertos

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WORKS: Arrangements from concertos
PERFORMER: Gerhard Weinberger (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 777 018-2
Large church organs are the very devil to record. Too close, and they spit at you from all directions, too distant and they are clouded in a reverberant fog. The recording here errs on the expansive side in a bare and hugely resonant church in Naumburg. The recently restored instrument is magnificent: organ buffs will delight in the full specification and registrations for every movement, comprehensively listed in the notes. There’s a Bach connection in that he subjected it to his robust testing procedures – sustained full-organ chords to test its ‘lungs’ – in 1746 (and picked up 30 cans of wine, coffee and tobacco as well as a generous fee). The arrangements include concertos, one originally by a princely patron in Weimar, two from Vivaldi. Gerhard Weinberger’s often quite staccato pedalling just about keeps the reverberant mists at bay in the outer movements. The more lightly registered slow movements work best, as do most of the Schübler Chorales – arrangements from movements of Bach’s own cantatas. At times Weinberger resorts to exceptionally slow tempi – ‘Kommst du nun’, BWV 650, is half as long again as the versions on my shelves, but, as in all the 15 discs of this series, he’s admirably imaginative in revealing most of the selected instrument’s myriad colours. George Pratt