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J.s. Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 6

Bach,J.s. / Phillips
Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 307   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel BachJohann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 31 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Preludes and Fugues: in e, BWV 548; in b, BWV 544; in G, BWV 550. Chorale Preludes, BWV 690–91, 694–95, 712, 718, 720, 727, 735–36, 740, 744, 747. Trio Sonatas: in G, BWV 530; in G, BWV 586; in E?, BWV 525. Concertos: in C Read more class="ARIAL12">, BWV 595; in d, BWV 596. Fantasy and Fugue in g, BWV 542. Fugue in c. Fugue in G, “Gigue,” BWV 577. Toccata in E, BWV 566 Margaret Phillips (org) REGENT 307 (2 CDs: 151:42)


This is Vol. 6 in an ongoing series of complete Bach organ works played by Margaret Phillips on a number of Europe’s finest and/or best-known organs. This particular volume splits the two discs between two entirely different instruments: CD 1 was recorded on the world-famous instrument in the church of St. Bavo in Haarlem, the Netherlands, which was played by such luminaries as Handel, Mozart, and Mendelssohn, while CD 2 was recorded on the Aubertin Organ of St. Louis-en-l’Île in Paris.


I must state upfront that although I’ve always enjoyed the sound of an organ, I am neither adept at playing one nor entirely clear as to exactly how various stops color the sound, but I know from talking to one excellent organist in my younger years that the stops can create entirely different timbres, even in the same piece of music. I bring all this up for two reasons: (1) the booklets for the CDs in this series go over the exact stops used in painstaking detail, followed by Phillips’s descriptions of each piece and her reasons for using these exact stops, and (2) although I can’t describe technically the reason why these stops change the sound so, I can say whether or not I like them.


For the most part, Phillips seems to have chosen her stops well, but this volume gets off to a rough start in her recording of the great Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, BWV 548. It’s not that her playing is bad, far from it; every note is played with awesome keyboard control. But the pungent, even ugly sound she draws from the instrument is, to my ears, just plain awful. It sounds like the ugliness one hears from much contemporary electronic music, the timbres so dark and congested that the various lines of music are not always clear. Thinking it was, perhaps, just my imagination, I put on the recording of the same piece by Jean Guillou (Dorian 92104), and was astounded to hear the vast difference in sound quality. Guillou, playing the Kleuker-Steinmeyer organ of the Zurich Tonhalle, produces an entirely different sound quality: crisp, lucid, and transparent, one might say the organ equivalent of Rudolf Kempe’s orchestral sound. In his hands, this great prelude and fugue is not an ugly, unwieldy thing but a light dance piece, almost Italian-sounding in its rhythm.


Fortunately, Phillips either decided that her choice of registration was only suited for this particular piece or realized that (at least on a recording) the sound didn’t work, because she does not use this exact combination of stops at any other point in this recital. The Trio Sonata No. 6, the Concerto in C, and the various chorale preludes that follow all have a lighter, airier sound (and are also played at a lower volume). In the questionable Trio in G (BWV 586), added to the Peters edition of Bach organ works in 1904 but since credited to Telemann, Phillips again uses a somewhat thicker sound but her choices of registration are entirely different and she avoids the dark, ugly timbre one hears in BWV 548. She also uses full-sounding stops in her performance of the choral prelude BWV 736, and again the lower register emerges dark and murky, but at least the upper range has better clarity. My lack of technical knowledge on the stops of an organ, however, was pointed up in my listening to the final prelude and fugue on this disc (BWV 544). Here, Phillips uses most of the same stops in the prelude as in BWV 548, but more of them, and for some reason the sound is much crisper and less muddy.


In general, then, I am quite pleased with this disc, but I would never play her version of BWV 548 ever again.


The instrument used for CD 2 is not actually an authentic 18th-century instrument, but an almost entirely new organ built to 18th-century specifications. It was designed by Bernard Aubertin and first played in public in June 2005; it was based on the designs of Zacharias Hildebrandt, who was one of Bach’s favorite organ builders (Phillips also used this organ for both discs of Vol. 2 in this series). Immediately, one hears improved clarity, even when Phillips tends towards a heavy pedal sound as in BWV 550. Everything is crisper, lighter, and clearer here, and one begins to truly appreciate Phillips’s outstanding qualities as a Bach interpreter. She does, however, favor a dark, sinister sound for the Fantasy in G Minor (BWV 542), though the ensuing fugue is clearer. (I’m wondering if Phillips herself hears dark, sinister qualities in Bach’s minor-key preludes?) Again, as a rule, the chorale preludes have a lighter, clearer sound.


Phillips is quite obviously a serious musician who loves her Bach, and this love is for the most part communicated to the listener. Recommended with the above caveats.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Trio sonata for flute, violin & continuo in G major, H. 586, Wq. 153 by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1755 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 4 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2.
Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548 "Wedge" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 14 Minutes 37 Secs. 
3.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 6 in G major, BWV 530 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 12 Minutes 15 Secs. 
4.
Fantasia super Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 695 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
5.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 718 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Arnstadt, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
6.
Concerto for Organ solo in C major, BWV 595 (after Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
7.
Auf meinen lieben Gott, BWV 744 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
8.
Wo soll ich fliehen hin?, BWV 694 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 3 Minutes 32 Secs. 
9.
Fantasia super Valet will ich dir geben, BWV 735 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
10.
Christus, der uns selig macht, BWV 747 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 
11.
Valet will ich dir geben, BWV 736 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
12.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
13.
Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  St Bavo, Haarlem 
Length: 12 Minutes 44 Secs. 
14.
Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 550 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 7 Minutes 5 Secs. 
15.
Concerto for Organ in D minor, BWV 596 (after Vivaldi) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 10 Minutes 27 Secs. 
16.
In dich hab' ich gehoffet, Herr, BWV 712 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Written: 1708-20 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
17.
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 720 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1709; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
18.
Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 "Great G minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
19.
Wir glauben all' an einen Gott, BWV 740 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 4 Minutes 47 Secs. 
20.
Fugue on a theme by Legrenzi in C minor, BWV 574 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1707 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 6 Minutes 58 Secs. 
21.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 10 Minutes 7 Secs. 
22.
Fugue in G major, BWV 577 "Gigue" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
23.
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 691 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
24.
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 690 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; ?Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
25.
Prelude and Fugue in E major, BWV 566 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Margaret Margaret Phillips (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Venue:  St Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 
Length: 10 Minutes 32 Secs. 

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