J.S. Bach Organ Sonatas

Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition (US)

This new recording of Bach’s oft-played Trio Sonatas, modelled on Corelli’s virtual invention of the genre and containing some of the most difficult counterpoint Bach was ever to write, was recorded at the Garrison Church in Copenhagen, the Carsten Lund organ which is a reconstruction of the 1724 instrument by Lambert Daniel Kastens. The instrument is magnificently captured in surround sound, and Mr. Wrench, a graduate of the Queensland and Vienna Conservatories, plays them with delightful splashes of color and tonal vibrancy that marks a mastery of registrations—which are, by the way, included for each work in the superlative notes.

These pieces first appeared around 1730 when Bach was at the height of his powers, generally conceded as practice pieces for WF Bach, though only one of them (No. 6) appears to have actually been conceived for the organ itself, the others culled from various works of Bach through the earlier years. Their three-movement form doesn’t exactly portray the typical Corelli schema of slow-fast-slow-fast, but it is obvious that much debt is owed to that master. These pieces are almost of the gallant style even though their depth of content betrays a firm association with that technique. They were known by musicians for many years even though they did not get published—finally—until the year 1827, thanks to the good auspices of one Samuel Wesley.

This goes right to the top of the list for these works, and I can only hope that Melba sees fit to raise the funds and provide us with a first-class SACD recording of all the Bach organ works, of course with Christopher Wrench at the helm.