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BASIL RAMSEY listens to 17th century organ music

Priory    PRCD607

Record Box


This CD dwells within the severest forms of 17th century German organ music, the period leading to the revelations of one who outshone all with his compositional virtuosity - Johann Sebastian Bach. The playing of Konstantin Reymaier displays a slightly mannered approach I find at odds with a vital elasticity within a beat that draws life out of the music. His resourceful use of the splendid Schnitger organ at St Jacobi, Hamburg is not in question: it is an utterly glorious example of the builder's art, despite the constant attention of various builders as time went on, and war damage.

I'm an ardent fan of Peter Hurford, whose complete Bach series for Decca years ago initiated a revelatory approach to rhythmic organ playing that set a yardstick few reach. I am restless, therefore, when this musical yeast is in short supply. Whereas lesser masters of the 17th century are overshadowed by Bach, there are peaks as well as troughs, and it remains vital for all to be projected as new. There's no better example of a pre-Bach peak than Mathias Weckmann's Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein flowering into the most affecting use of chromatic passage work towards the end. Bach's Toccata in E (in the C major version) is the final track, suitably reed dominated for the second fugue and coda. Here organ and Bach are exactly matched in shattering sound for noble music.

There's much else to seek out with our ears from the glorious colours of this unique instrument, dating back to the late 17th century. As always crucial to a large organ, the resonance of the building halos the sounds as they richochet and blend.


Copyright © 2 August 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK




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