Notes and Editorial Reviews
Organ Works, Vol. 1
Jozef Sluys (org)
ARS MUSICI 232342 (67:08)
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend; Auf meinen lieben Gott.
Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig; Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ; Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele.
Vater unser in Himmelreich; Nun bitten wir den
heiligen Geist; Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr
Organ Works, Vol. 2
Jozef Sluys (org)
ARS MUSICI 232373 (67:48)
Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht; Auf tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir.
Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten.
Christ lag in Todesbanden; Vater unser in Himmelreich
Christum wir sollen loben schon; Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.
Preludes and Fugues: in C; in a; in d. Prelude in F. Capriccio in D
Georg Böhm (1661–1733) remains much neglected, despite his importance as the bridge figure in German organ music between Buxtehude and J. S. Bach. C. P. E. Bach asserted that his father “loved and studied” Böhm’s works, and a recently discovered tablature manuscript of Bach has finally provided evidence for the long-held supposition that Bach studied with Böhm in Lüneberg (where the latter was organist at the Johanneskirche from 1697 to his death) sometime around 1700. Böhm’s surviving compositional output is small, consisting of only two volumes. Nevertheless, it is significant, for Böhm as a skilled compositional craftsman was the developer of the genre of the chorale-partita, which combined the Italian variation form with German Reformation hymnody to create a distinct type of sacred instrumental music for liturgical and devotional purposes. Bach would of course develop the chorale and partita to a far more sophisticated and exalted degree, but here one can clearly discern the roots of his inspiration.
The majority of works featured on these two CDs, originally issued in 2001 and 2003, illustrates various aspects of Böhm’s efforts in these forms. Unfortunately, these discs have little competition. Two abortive series devoted to Böhm’s organ works, on Naxos and Kontrapunkt, never got beyond Vol. 1. The only other currently available CDs devoted exclusively to his music are a two-disc set of the complete cembalo suites on Glossa and one disc of cantatas on cpo. Otherwise, one finds only an occasional individual work included in organ anthology discs. Fortunately, however, these are fine performances, played on excellent early 18th-century instruments. Belgian organist Jozef Sluys has an adept set of fingers and employs marvelously colorful registrations, though his tempi sometimes tend to be a bit on the stately side for my tastes (a complaint I have with many recordings of Bach’s works;
). The booklets provide color photos, complete specifications, and brief notes on the history of each organ, as well as each work. The recorded sound is clean and uncluttered, but a bit bright and closely miked. In sum, these discs are self-recommending to anyone with an interest in Baroque organ music.
FANFARE: James A. Altena
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