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Robert Quinney and Margaret Phillips make important additions to their respective series of complete Bach recordings. In Phillips’s case this is actually a supplementary volume to the original set of 16 discs featuring alternative versions of works plus pieces not written for the organ in the case of two Ricercars from the Musical Offering. Given their importance as teaching pieces, the inclusion of the Eight Short Preludes & Fugues is a highlight, especially when one rarely hears them given such considered treatment. Quinney’s volume has, as its centrepiece, the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch accompanied by BWV 541, 542, 547 and three Advent preludes on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. A delightful addition is the four-movement Pastorella delivered with rustic charm.

Both recordings feature organs built in the last 40 years. The Trinity Metzler comes across as the much more extrovert vehicle here, but captured rather too close for my liking. The Draps/ Flentrop organ chosen by Phillips speaks with more grandeur, though no less clarity, in its larger acoustics. Both performers are a delight to listen to, finding interest in every nuance of Bach’s writing. The attention to detail contained within a well-proportioned sense of structure gives the music fluidity and vitality that is captivating to the ear.

RUPERT GOUGH Read the full review on Agora Classica

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