JS BACH Leipzig and Schübler Chorales

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Johann Sebastian Bach

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Lawo

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 130

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: LWC1056

LWC1056. JS BACH Leipzig and Schübler Chorales

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(18) Chorales, 'Leipzig Chorales' Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Kåre Nordstoga, Organ
(6) Schübler Chorales Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Kåre Nordstoga, Organ
(5) Canonic Variations on 'Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her' Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer
Kåre Nordstoga, Organ
While there is no evidence to suggest that Kåre Nordstoga is embarking on a complete Bach series, his second two-CD release presents another rich portfolio of the composer’s remarkable organ chorales – arguably the least widely appreciated of his instrumental oeuvres. What is required to bring such music into the concert-giving domain was partly broached in Nordstoga’s initial foray of Weimar concerto transcriptions and lesser-known chorale preludes (2/14).

This volume celebrates a potent cross section of Bach’s Leipzig organ music, the programme framed by sui generis works written close to the end of his life, the six Schübler Chorales from 1748, which Nordstoga delivers with a feeling for timbral definition and unhurried placement. So often over-ambitious and varied registrations can accentuate – dare one say – the more unwieldy features of these celebrated re creations. Nordstoga allows them both space and subtle colorific variation to speak as a ‘set’, employing the alluring warmth of the Schnitger organ in Groningen.

If ever there was a set of Bach’s keyboard music that deserved greater dissemination among his followers, then it’s the gloriously conceived set of so-called ‘Leipzig’ chorale preludes. As in his earlier release, one can admire Nordstoga’s dignifed control and studied consideration in those ‘holy grails’, such as Schmücke dich and Nun danket alle Gott, but often I longed for something of greater critical substance and character distinction: how one can ‘open’ these works out from the loft into new interpretative arenas, without reverting to rhetorical ticks. O Lamm Gottes is a case in point, where an eight-minute instrumental journey of breathtaking questing, drama, collapse and hope of salvation is bewilderingly stagnant and unexplored. It is one of those occasions where one fears for a work.

If Nordstoga’s andante speed applies to almost all the chorale preludes, his reading of the Canonic Variations is surprisingly sprightly. Bach’s often dry parlour-game of contrapuntal showmanship (presented to establish his ‘scientific’ credentials to Mizler’s elite university society) is among the best performances of, generally, an admirable but disappointingly unadventurous new compendium.

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