Organ Works, Vol. 2: Toccata in D; Fugue in D; Christus, der ist mein Leben; Der herr ist mein getreuer Hirt etc
Matthew Owens (organ)
Resonus RES10303 76:20 mins
Pachelbel’s subtle art is very well served by the organist Matthew Owens, so perhaps the only question mark hanging over this enterprise is whether it is also well served by wall-to-wall recordings. Compared with the virtuosic Northern German style of Buxtehude, an influence on JS Bach, the Southern German idiom of Pachelbel is more modest, some of it even stylistically simple. As Owens, an excellent musician, shows with this release, the law of diminishing returns may apply to Pachelbel: while Volume 1 featured such outstanding works as the Ciacona in F minor (almost as immediately hypnotic as his famous Canon in D), this new Volume 2 feels less richly rewarding.
Yet framing a clutch of chorale preludes there are nevertheless two impressive, multi-part pieces. The Chorale Partita on ‘Christus, der ist mein Leben’ comprises 12 ingenious variations, and the 23 fugues that make up the Magnificat Fugues Primi Toni (the first tone, or Dorian mode) are laid out with contrapuntal clarity by Owens. His registrations also showcase an intriguing instrument, built in 2015 for a private residence in Fairwarp, East Sussex; the sound is always beguiling.