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It’s tempting to imagine you can hear the separate influences of Pieter van Dijk’s one-time teachers Marie-Claire Alain and Gustav Leonhardt in the poetically robust and relishably direct performances on these two double-disc volumes of Bach. Volume 2 focuses on the Orgelbüchlein, with Van Dijk adopting an even-handed approach marked by sure, steady phrasing, nuanced attention to detail and a secure sense of architectural design, both within individual movements and overall structure and design. Start with the fluid, beautifully modulated F major Pastorale (BWV 590) for evidence of Bach playing of delicate distinction and a measure of the many pleasures here. No less attractive is Van Dijk’s intelligent way with the double-fugue complexity of the ‘Legrenzi’Fugue in C minor (BWV 574) or his gleeful flamboyance in the exuberant Praeludium & Fugue in G (BWV 541).

Interspersed with assorted Preludes and Fugues, the Leipzig Chorales take centre stage in volume 3. Van Dijk flows through each and all with a glowing sense of idiomatic rightness in colouring and attitude, adroitly framed by authentic-sounding Lutheran manners. Two fine, eloquent, German-accented period instruments – a III/39 Garrels in St Nicolaaskerk, Purmerend, and the III/56 Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger in Alkmaar’s Grote Kerk – prove perfect choices, Van Dijk adapting to each with pleasingly nimble and sensitive musicality.

Booklet notes err on the side of brevity but registrations are provided and the recorded sound is excellent.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica


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