JS Bach, Buxtehude, Reger, Heiller, Muffat, Slonimsky, Mushel, Rossi, Flor Peeters, McVicker, Planyavsky etc

COMPOSERS: Buxtehude,Flor Peeters,Heiller,JS Bach,McVicker,Muffat,Mushel,Planyavsky etc,Reger,Rossi,Slonimsky
LABELS: Priory
ALBUM TITLE: Gillian Weir on stage at Symphony Hall Birmingham
WORKS: Organ works by JS Bach, Buxtehude, Reger, Heiller, Muffat, Slonimsky, Mushel, Rossi, Flor Peeters, McVicker, Planyavsky etc
PERFORMER: Gillian Weir (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: PRCD 867
With no fewer than 11 of the beasts in this programme you’d be forgiven for feeling toccata’d out by the end of this exhilarating double disc set. But Gillian Weir knows her repertoire and Birmingham’s stupendous Klais organ inside out. There’s Bach in D minor, and Buxtehude in F, but that’s the ‘Dorian’ in the case of the former, and for the latter, the less well-known Bux WV156. Courting the less familiar is de rigeur. She proposes nothing less than a 400-year survey stretching from 17th-century Italy (Rossi at his most harmonically off the-wall) to 20th-century Russia, via a Vienna which flexes its fingers to the very different dance beats of Heiller’s circus-bear-inspired Tanz-Toccata, and his pupil Peter in brief Planyavsky’s Toccata alla rumba. There’s also a pealing delight by that Scottish-French Germanophile Georg Muffat. And not without some toccata panache is the one exception – William McVicker’s ingenious set of variations on ‘Tea for two’, an enigmatic tribute to friends pictured within. Here, as everywhere, Weir is on top form, teasing thrilling sounds from the Klais; and she is as effortlessly commanding in the quicksilver caprice and pugnacious élan of the Buxtehude as in the Reger Op. 59 which follows – its Toccata firmly hitched to Buxtehude’s star, and the gradually accelerating Fugue utterly inevitable where others often sound uncomfortable or unconvincing. Masterly! Paul Riley

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