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Johann Sebastian Bach - Great Organ Works

Johann Sebastian Bach

Great Organ Works

Peter Hurford

London 43485

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"Boring, boring, boring. Heavy, slow church music. Boring!!!" I hear you say.

Is this your view of organ music? You're not alone. Even in the world of classical music, the organ is not high on most people's hit parade.

But the music of Bach is different. No self-respecting classical collection should be without some Bach organ works. Now I'm not suggesting you go out and buy the entire 17 CD collection of the Complete Organ Works of Bach (although if you really want it, you can get it here). But two or three pieces. Or seven or eight.

There are treasures of music within this huge body of work. Wouldn't it be great if there was a CD with a select group of Bach's best? Or even better, two CDs? Or best of all two CD's at bargain price?

Welcome to Peter Hurford's recording of some of Bach's best known organ works, and some lesser known pieces. Taken from his monumental recording on Decca of Bach's Complete Organ Works, this 2 CD set distills the best of the 17 CD's.

Some of the pieces are very familiar. The Tocatta and Fugue in D minor is one of the best known pieces of music ever. But many people, although they know the opening bars, have never heard it all the way through. It is a intricate, powerful work, almost mathematics set to music. And certainly a piece of music that can only be played on an organ.

The Schubler chorale prelude, Wachet Auf or Sleepers Wake, is also a well-known work, a simple Lutheran hymn, a beautiful melody, given the Bach treatment. An antidote to the conflicts and ugliness of the real world - the quiet sanity of Bach.

It also includes the Passagcalia and Fugue in C minor, possibly the greatest piece of music ever written, for any instrment. In my humble opinion. Less well-known that the Tocatta and Fugue, but just as complex, and much more powerful. The simple repeating ground, accompanied by a melodic line, ever more intricate and urgent, culminates in a climax that will push your speakers to their limits. I've listened to this literally hundreds of times (as my family will attest) and never tire of it.

Bach's genius shows in the Prelude in A minor where with nothing but a single melodic line, almost completely lacking rhythmic structure and without harmony, he creates music of great complexity and beauty. Also on these CDs are the lovely Tocatta, Adagio and Fugue and some lesser known chorale preludes. Yes, they may seem a bit heavy at first, but listen to them a second time and a third, and they will become familiar favourites.

Peter Hurford has made it his life's work to put all Bach organ works on CD, and is now recording them all a second time, this time on original organs from Bach's time. Nobody is better qualified, and they are consistently superlative performances, and excellent recordings, despite their originally analog nature.

The King of Instruments, played by a true devotee of its greatest composer, this is, I think, an essential CD set.

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Track Listing

Johann Sebastian Bach
Great Organ Works
Peter Hurford

Compact Disc 1
  1. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565
  2. Chorale prelude - Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727
  3. Chorale prelude - Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
  4. Fantasia And Fugue In G Minor, BWV 542
  5. Chorale prelude - Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 730
  6. Passacaglia And Fugue In C Minor, BWV 582
  7. Prelude And Fugue In E Flat Major ('St. Anne')
  8. Chorale prelude - Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659
  9. Fantasia And Fugue In C Minor, BWV 537
Compact Disc 2
  1. Toccata, Adagio And Fugue In C Major, BWV 564
  2. Chorale prelude - In dulci jubilo, BWV 729
  3. Prelude and Fugue In A Minor, BWV 543
  4. Fantasia In G Major, BWV 572
  5. Prelude And Fugue In D Major, BWV 532
  6. Chorale prelude - Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein, BWV 734
  7. Chorale prelude - Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 694
  8. Fantasia In C Minor, BWV 562
  9. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor ('Dorian'), BWV 538

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