JS Bach: Leipziger Chorale
played by Bernard Foccroulle on the Silbermann Orgel des Doms in Frieburg
RICERCAR RIC 212 (2 CDs)
This is a timely and most welcome reissue of a recording made back in 1991 upon an instrument whose magnificence is a wonder to behold. From a design by cathedral organist Elias Lindern, Gottfried Silbermann built this, his oldest surviving instrument, between 1711 and 1714. It consists of 44 stops over three manuals and pedal delivering a pitch of 448Hz. Cleaning took place in 1738 before Christian Polycarp Butzus re-gilded it. Restoration of the instrument by Jehmlich Orgelbau of Dresden between 1981 and 1983 had the wind-pressures restored nearer their original (Manual now 90mm, Pedal 100mm) and the unequal temperament compromised between Meantone and modern equal temperament.
Throughout Bernard Foccroulle's recital one senses the sound that Bach may have been acquainted. The first disc opens with the Fantasia super Komm Heiliger Geist, BWV 651, which is awe-inspiring, the pedal solid and magnificent throughout supporting highly invigorating thematic melismas that in combination elevate the senses. Foccroulle's performance is one of uncompromising conviction, every line clearly delineated in a sinuous journey of divine depths.
The instrument's sound has an incisive quality that allows the lines to etch deeply into the basis of each work presented. The Prelude and Fugue's BWV 545 (C minor) and BWV 547 (C major) are perfect examples, on the second disc, of the organ's sublime power. On the same disc comes the Canonic Variations on Von Himmel hoch, BWV 769a,where Foccroulles exploratory zeal facilitates each movement with engaging registrations whose permutations cut differing humours.
Foccroulle is his own master and brings Bach's work to life in ways that remain fresh even upon many hearings - a rare quality for a recording. If you don't have the sound of Bach on a Silbermann played by an organist with invaluable insight in your collection, now you have no excuses! DA
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