Buxtehude, LŸbeck, Pachelbel & Tunder

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COMPOSERS: Buxtehude,Lábeck,Pachelbel & Tunder
LABELS: PGM
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Praeludium Ð Origins of Bach’s Genius
WORKS: Organ music by Buxtehude, Lübeck, Pachelbel & Tunder
PERFORMER: Gavin Black (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 104
Gavin Black has chosen to play his recital of 17th-century German music on an organ built recently by the Tennessee firm Richards, Fowkes & Co. at St John’s Lutheran Church, Stamford, Connecticut. Connecticut and Tennessee might seem a long way from the extant 17th- and 18th-century instruments of Arp Schnitger and his contemporaries, but from the impressions given on this disc, Black’s choice of instrument has proved to be an excellent one, and one which continues to publicise some of the good things going on in American organ-building today.

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Black (for whom there is curiously no biography), having recorded harpsichord music of the same period on the label PGM has now turned to the organ with this CD exploring the roots of JS Bach’s ‘musical craft’ through works which Bach ‘had atop his organ console as a teenager’. There is some thoughtful playing (the moods of the chorale-based works come over effectively) and the performer explores the wealth of registrational opportunities this repertoire inspires. But a sense of the original player-improvisers’ fecund imaginations bequeathed in these pieces (after all, what is notated is but a small part of these composers’ ‘outputs’) is lacking. The free works often lack a sense of cohesion, the connection between rhetorical, ‘con discrezione’sections and stricter, contrapuntal textures marred by miscalculated tempo relationships. Andrew McCrea