Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
 (10 /2013)


 Code-barres / Barcode : 5060262790212

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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation : "All in all this is a must-buy recording and one I shall return to again and again".

Reviewer: Geoffrey Molyneux

This great collection of music composed specifically for the organ is one of Bach’s finest achievements. The collection is framed by a magnificent Prelude and Fugue and Stephen Farr sets a magisterial tone at the outset in the huge openingPraeludium, which combines French overture and Italian concerto style.

In the ensuing group of chorale settings in contrapuntal style, Stephen Farr treats us to a wide variety of imaginative colouring which is both attractive in itself and which also enhances the structure of the music and at the same time allows us to hear the individual parts with great clarity. Some of these pieces are in lighter vein, giving the listener a little respite from the complexity of the first few pieces. Although Bach had been criticised for his use of old-fashioned compositional techniques, we can hear him dabbling with the newer and more tuneful style galant, albeit in a tentative way. Bach can rarely allow his intellect a moment’s rest.

The beauty of Farr’s playing can be readily discerned in BWV 678, a piece of seeming simplicity but with ever increasing counterpoint around the main theme, and this is followed by the bouncily played BWV 679, vividly contrasting in registration. BWV 686 is one of the most contrapuntally complex pieces in the collection. Stephen Farr gives a magnificent performance with great clarity in the part writing but he also builds this famous work to a glorious and emotionally exhausting climax.

The final group of four duets almost give a feeling of light-heartedness after so much complex counterpoint. But things are not so simple and there is always an undercurrent of mystery as well as unexpected twists of harmony and chromaticism. Farr as always gives first class performances.

Unlike Clavier-Übung IV and the Goldberg Variations, these pieces were probably not intended to be heard continuously in sequence. However you would not know this from Stephen Farr’s performance. Due to his in-depth understanding of this great music he presents us with a performance that is totally satisfying as a complete structure. He achieves this with well chosen tempi, and use of well-contrasted registrations and colouring. This is the most enjoyable performance of Bach’s Clavier-Übung I can ever remember hearing. It is magnificently recorded and Stephen Farr makes full use of the colours available from the Metzler Organ of Trinity College, Cambridge. All in all this is a must-buy recording and one I shall return to again and again.

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