Notes and Editorial Reviews
Vol. 16 of Kevin Bowyer’s survey of Bach’s organ music consists mainly of fragments, variants and misattributions, not all of which by any means were specifically intended for the organ. Among the more substantial pieces are two concertos which Bach translated to keyboard without pedals. One of them is an arrangement of the ninth concerto from Vivaldi’s first published set of such pieces for violin and strings, L’estro armonico; the other is a piece similarly arranged from a concerto by Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Bowyer articulates them clearly and has chosen suitable tempi, but generally speaking they sound more idiomatic on a harpsichord, which was probably Bach’s preferred instrument in these instances. Nevertheless, he has left
us a version with pedals of the first movement of Duke Johann Ernst’s Concerto which further attests to his fascination with the contrapuntal complexities afforded by these Italianate pieces. Many of the remaining items contained in this two-CD set are by hands other than Bach’s. Some of these are more well-sustained and more entertaining than others, but Bowyer, takes us down a path that is anything but well-trodden and his programme holds much of interest in store, above all perhaps for the innocent ear. Further removed from the Bach idiom are the 18 delightful pieces inspired by the Cöthen castle clock. Notwithstanding their BWV Anhang credentials they clearly belong to a later hand, very possibly that of one of Bach’s pupils or circle of family and friends. Among many other things here which charm the senses is a cheerful Prelude by his pupil Gottfried August Homilius on the hymn melody ‘Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele’. The Marcussen organ at Odense in Denmark is a superb instrument and its character has been effectively captured by the recording.
-- Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine
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