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More than 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell, do we really still want to hear Bach on Schnitger organs? Harald Vogel’s programme of works dating from the period when Bach had contact with the Schnitger organ type partly repeats, both in concept and programme, a previous release for Loft Recordings (The Young Bach, LRCD 1009). The disc reflects Vogel’s own highly personal view of the relationship between the north German tradition and Bach, extensively documented elsewhere. Listeners will recognise the ‘steam train’ accelerandi at the opening of BWV 531 and 535, while the D minor Fugue (BWV 565ii) has a typically complicated registration plan. ‘In the north German toccata and prelude repertoire, 2-manual playing in the free sections was a performance practice stimulated by the differently sounding choruses of the manual divisions and pedal,’ writes Vogel, a statement evidenced, as far as I am aware, by just one work from Scheidt’s Tabulatura Nova. So, to be avoided? Certainly not; despite (or perhaps because of) his ‘historical creativity’, Vogel is a truly great musician and the magnificent Cappel organ is one of the best preserved instruments from Schnitger’s hand. The combination of Vogel, Schnitger and Bach remains irresistible.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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