Notes and Editorial Reviews
Bach's well known frugal practice of recycling existing works has given credence to the recovery of a number of 'lost' concertos, but none for the organ, the instrument with which he lived intimately for so much of his life; none, that is, until now. Two of the items in this recording are not described as concertos: the Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29 is already a concertante piece, with obbligato organ—so far so good, but BWV1045 is another matter. Bach began what appears to have been intended as a violin concerto but abandoned it after writing 50 bars; R. J. Schureck, the arranger of the music on this recording, suggests that this may have been due to the difficulty of balancing one violin against a large ensemble (a strange lapse of judgement
by one so skilled as Bach) and has made a notional re-working and completion of the movement with the organ in the soloist's place of honour. The three 'organ concertos' have been assembled from a variety of movements taken from cantatas and harpsichord concertos, the familiarity of which provokes the recurrent thought 'Right song, wrong singer!'.
Schureck, also the annotator, gives the musical and chronological reasons for his reconstructions; if he is correct (which we shall never know) then Bach is entitled to another entry in the 'Book of Musical Records', displacing Handel as the first composer of an organ concerto. In this situation we can, not for the first time, do no more than decide whether the end-product carries conviction; it can never be certified as 'authentic', but does it sound as though it might be? The sustaining power of the organ and its ability to hold its own at all times, clearly superior to those of the harpsichord, lend enough credibility to make these adaptations acceptable in their own right, not least in the slow movements. Hurford's discreetly registered organ is kept in excellent balance with the Northern Sinfonia. These are not instrumentally 'authentic' performances, but they are clean and spirited ones, played with a light enough touch and excellently recorded; above all, they are entirely enjoyable.
-- John Duarte, Gramophone [12/1990]
Works on This Recording
Sinfonia in D major, BWV 1045 [fragment] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Peter Hurford (Organ)
Written: 1743-1746; Germany
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