The Organ


Terence Charlston at the organs of Douai Abbey

Here is a disc that is a delight from start to finish. Performances of well-known pieces of Bach played on the two fine organs in Douai Abbey. The Pastorella in F major, BWV590 and Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, BWV738 are both played on the Tamburini organ of 1978, both sounding very clear and bright. Perhaps a little too bright and forward with upperwork added; a little more distance from the engineer might have been sympathetic.

None-the-less, this does not impede these intrinsically musical and lovely performances. The Tickell organ is undoubtedly the star of the disc as much as the player. All the performances are clear, intelligent, musical and satisfying, nothing more could be required. An interesting piece of programming is the Pedalexercitium in G minor BWV598 which leads straight into the G minor Fantasia and Fugue, BWV542; it caught me by surprise the first time I heard it, but on repeated hearings it works very well.

The organs are well recorded (previous minor caveat reiterated) and the acoustic of the Abbey is perfect for the music, enriching the tone but allowing phrasing to come through. Charleston's notes (written in the first person) are concise and informative and registrations are included. (A slight irritation with booklet layout is that the programme is only included on the back of the CD - where it should always be - and not in the booklet, so one has to carry both booklet and case to the listening position to refer to the programme running order.) Despite this, the disc gains an unqualified recommendation.