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Organ Works volume 6.
Prelude and Fugue in C BWV 545, chorale Preludes BWV 720, 721,727, 741. Fantasia BWV 735, Prelude and Fugue in D BWV 532,Partita BWV 768, Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 543.
Gerhard Weinberger at the Christoph Treutmann Organ at Grauhof Monastery.
CPO 999 700 -2 (DDD) (77.26)
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This is another splendid recording from Weinberger on a superb and faultless instrument and the recording engineers have greatly contributed to volume six of the organ works of Bach.

As I indicated in my previous review Bach should always be played like this. Weinberger's performances are untramelled by the annoying weirdisms of baroque indulgences which only serve to ridicule the music. There are too many players and orchestras who play Bach in a prissy, effeminate way with ghastly grinding rallentandoes and other affectations. Here is Bach in his glory, rich, impressive, strong, masculine and very exciting and not in nauseating pastel shades but rich colours. And what is so fine about these performances is that the cerebral and emotive qualities of the music come through.

The C major Prelude and Fugue is a gem played with a majestic power that is never allowed to be Edwardian or pompous. The stately fugue is notable for its clarity at each time the subject appears. The organist maintains the tempo and his pedal work is so good that you think it is manual work.

Ein Feste Berg is the first of the chorale preludes and reminds us how Bach used to be bored playing hymn tunes for the congregation and would elaborate on them to the confusion of the people assembled, It is, however, a very clever exploration of the Lutheran chorale. In the next prelude, Erbarn dich mein, I have never experienced a performance with such atmosphere. it is quite unlike anything else that Bach wrote, in fact, it is ahead of its time suggesting that other genius of contrapuntal technique, Max Reger, a much-maligned composer but whose work is simply astonishing. The emotive quality that Weinberger finds here is almost out of this world. Herzlich tut mich verlangen will be recognised as 0 Sacred Head, sore wounded. Here is another extraordinarily moving performance in which the organist shows great sensitivity which terminology one does not usually associate with Bach. Ach Gott von Himmel was very rewarding. So much so that I found the music and went to the local church to play it.. In this excellent performance the music builds up gradually with the organist's wonderful control. Nothing is extreme or fanciful and there is no prissy playing. The Fantasia Valet will ich dir gleben has the cantus firmus in the pedal and the chorale itself is a hymn tune about death but you may recognise the music as All glory, laud and honour. Or is it? It has a chamber music feel about it and, although the music is not fast, it has florid lines in which the organist reveals his secure fingerwork. The D major Prelude and Fugue is a very important work. The prelude opens with the scale of D played on the pedals. This is repeated twice before the moderately paced alla breve section appears. The pedal work is a great feature of this piece. I was tempted to say feeture! Note the passage at bar 38, for example. The prelude ends with an impressive adagio of eleven and a half bars but there is so much activity that the music does not sound slow at all. Here is a quasi-chromaticism that predicts Reger. The fugue is really a toccata in that touch is so important. Again when the pedal appears at bar 20 it is so well played that you think it is played on the manuals. The build up to the athletic pedal parts of the last twenty bars or so is very impressive. A change of registration may have helped and a slightly quicker tempo but the organist has enough to do without these ultra-fussy points. Bach needs great skill and co-ordination and well as Herculean concentration.

The Partita Sei gegrubet, Jesu gutig is a chorale with eleven variatons lasting just over 22 minutes. . It is a piece that I did not know and would have to learn. The quality of the playing I found more admirable than the piece.

And the final item was the real joy. The Eminor Prelude and Fugue is given a temendous performance. The prelude is very fine and occasionally has an infectious swagger. It reminds me that very often the preludes were far better in content and design that the fugues. Again there is some splendid pedal work and, sadly, a hint of a rallentando at the end. As in the D major the fugue subject is not inspiring but the variety in the B minor makes it a winner. The scalic passages in the manuals are very joyous and the 16 foot on the pedal is magnificent. But, as in many of Bach's fugues , one wonders where the music is going

Nonetheless I sat spellbound at the genius of Bach and his most worthy of advocates.

Bach should always be played like this.

David Wright




David Wright



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