Notes and Editorial Reviews
156 minutes of organ bliss as Dame Gillian Weir’s acclaimed Bach series continues in welcome style.
The area of Bach organ recordings is terribly overcrowded these days, with strong ‘complete’ editions from Bowyer, Herrick, Koopman et al, but I urge all readers to squeeze just those few extra millimetres of shelving to accommodate this third volume of Dame Gillian Weir’s highly acclaimed Bach series. As with the first two volumes, she has chosen instruments designed by her late husband, the North American organbuilder and musician Lawrence Phelps (1923-99). The honours are split fairly evenly between the three-manual built in 1970 for Toronto and the 1974 two-manual in Colorado.
Her playing during these
two and a half hours of organic bliss really is beyond all praise. From the unfussy Schübler Chorale Prelude on Wachet auf! at the start of disc 1, until the sparkling eighth variation on O Gott du frommer Gott, on disc 2, we are whisked along through the Clavier-Übung III. Weir pays scrupulous attention to the text, at the same time bringing a poetic tenderness to even the most convoluted counterpoint. A combination of colourful registrations, steady wind and a wonderful sense of line and forward direction make a thrilling tour de force. Nothing sounds contrived. Judicious tempi allow one to relish the most delicious of Bach’s harmonic progressions.
The accompanying documentation, including a highly readable commentary, must be Priory’s most sumptuously appointed booklet to date. The sound is close-miked but not intrusive. Volume 4 (St Thomas’s, Leipzig) promises to be even more attractive.
-- Malcolm Riley, Gramophone [6/2004]
Works on This Recording
Pastorale in F major, BWV 590 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Gillian Weir (Organ)
Written: circa 1710; Weimar, Germany
Notes: St. Luke's Episcopal Churc, Fort Collins, Colorado
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