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Barthold Kuijken’s book The Notation is Not the Music,with insights from a lifetime of performing baroque music, is an apt title for this review of three different CDs all centred on J.S. Bach. Miklós Teleki plays an organ described as ‘following Saxon and baroque traditions’ but sounding more neoclassical, and tuned in equal temperament. The most successful work is O Gott, du frommer Gott, whose variations use nice, quieter registers to good effect; but Teleki’s playing shows little sense of period style and is often so fast – as in the E flat Prelude BVW 552 – that the organ can’t speak quickly enough. Sadly, a very disappointing recording.

Masaaki Suzuki is in a different league altogether, and this second Bach recording shows his fine musicianship, and interesting use of the French-biased colours of the Garnier organ. The modified meantone temperament gives very strong coloration to chromaticism, as in the chords at the end of the C major Fugue BWV 547. A brilliant G major Prelude BWV 541 opens the programme, the Fugue registered with a grand reed-based chorus in the French style. Many beautiful quiet stops in Sei gegrüsset and a superb performance of the D minor Vivaldi-Bach concerto make a splendidly balanced and varied disc, which comes with excellent notes on music and organ.

The third disc is centred around Bach but with no original works by him! The huge and exceptionally fine organ of Aarhus Cathedral is well recorded, and Kristian Krogsøe a talented player. Bach arranged by Guilmant, Karg-Elert and Reger sits alongside dramatic performances of Liszt’s Weinen, Klagen and Reger’s Fantasia & Fugue on BACH, which closes the programme. The highlight for me is the splendid arrangement by Middelschulte of the violin Chaconne BWV 1004, an organ parallel to the more famous Busoni/Bach transcription for piano. The virtuosity of Krogsøe, and excellent recording and sleeve notes, make this a most enjoyable disc.

DOUGLAS HOLLICK Read the full review on Agora Classica


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