COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Coro Connections
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Fantasia super ‘Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott’, BWV 651; Organ Concerto in D minor (after Vivaldi), BWV 596; Chorale Preludes, BWV 652- 654; Chorale Partita, BWV 768; An Wasserflüssen Babylon cum doppio pedale, BWV 653b; Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548
PERFORMER: Robert Quinney (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: COR16157
The first volume of Robert Quinney’s on-going Bach cycle was recorded on the organ of Queen’s College Oxford, but all subsequent instalments have been on the 1976 Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge. Once again it lends sonic lustre, this time to a programme built around the game-changing notion of the ritornello, a compositional device Bach honed after Prince Johann Ernst returned to Weimar from his travels with a clutch of Italian works including Vivaldi’s celebrated Op. 3 concertos. Ever practical, Bach learned in part through fingers and feet, transcribing examples for both organ and harpsichord. And as Quinney remarks in his perceptive liner notes, the blueprint went beyond niceties of form. In reimagining a work such as the D minor Concerto (despatched with pertly articulated brio) Bach was confronting a new way of thinking organ colour and texture.
The ritornello turbo charges the opening Fantasia on Komm, Heiliger Geist – given a magisterially surging performance – and it’s at its most sophisticated in the disc’s ‘magnum opus’, the epic Prelude and Fugue in E minor. Here Quinney nails BWV 548’s spaciousness and architectural inventiveness, but sometimes favours a certain didacticism over emotional intensity. An unforced eloquence pervades the evergreen chorale prelude Schmücke dich, while the tender twosome elaborating An Wasserflüssen Babylon are never allowed to wallow, the tempos always forward-looking.
Best of all though is an imaginatively registered, compellingly coherent account of the 12-movement Partita on Sei gegrüsset, which follows the ordering of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, and makes a supremely powerful case for it.