The Organ

French Baroque Organ Music

Stefan Johannes Bleicher at Ottobeuren Abbey
ARTE NOVA 74321 86895 2

In choosing French music of the 17th and 18th centuries, Stefan Johannes Bleicher presents a programme which fits the famous Riepp organ in Ottobeuren like a glove. The opening Couperin Offertoire is laden with ornaments and flourishes and the sumptuous Grand Jeu is quite breathtakingly wonderful. The following three Nols by Michel Corrette are performed impecably with carefully chosen colours and a relaxed, graceful quality. I was particularly startled by the 'breathy' flutes (is this really an organ or a genuine baroque flute?) in Bon Joseph coute moy.

The registration for the Fugue 5 from Grigny's Pange Lingua gives great clarity to the polyphony and a richness impossible to attain on equal temperaments and inflexible winding. The opening En taille 5 (performed with very little ingalit) has a pleasant impulsive quality about it and demonstrates the glorious 16 foot Plein Jeu. The third Rcit du chant verset illustrates an 8 foot fonds d'orgue accompaniment and the gentle undulating tierce en taille. The recording is fairly close with some (perfectly agreeable) action noise in this movement. Only at the ends of movements is the Abbey's substantial reverberation time in evidence.

Three Balbastre dances act as a palette cleanser being musically less intense. The most extended item on the disc is Marchand's Suite du premier Ton. The awesome Plein Jeu is followed by music which is always well directed and coloured. Bleicher seems very much at home on this instrument and makes light work of the technical and artistic demands of this music. A biography, brief programme notes, specification and history of the abbey organs are provided in English and German. A Five Star recording.