Bach at Martinikerk, Groningen
Wim van Beek, organ
Fugue State Records/Helior FSRCD003. 2 CDs. 51’12+57’41
Bach: Clavierubung III
This is a recording made in 2006 of the famous organ in the Martinikerk, Groningen, one of the famous North German Baroque organs. Its roots lay in the mid-15th century 1450 with a rebuilding around 1482 by Johan ten Damme. The Gothic organ was rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1542 and further enlarged in 1628, 1690, 1691/2 (by Arp Schnitger), by Frans Caspar Schnitger and Hinsz in 1729/30 and 1740. After many poor re-buildings in the early 20th century, it was finally restored back to a 1740 state in 1984 by Jürgen Ahrend, retaining most of its early pipework, some dating back to 1542. It is seen by many as an ideal ‘Bach organ’, although more recent thinking has recognised that the very different Saxon and Thuringian organs are closer to the sound world of the mature Bach. But he was certainly influenced by these more northern instruments, particularly in his youth.
Wim van Beek has been organist at the Martinikerk since 1956 and therefore deserves much credit for being able to play at all, never mind as well as this. Not surprisingly, there are moments when the style of performance might appear rather dated to 21st century ears (in such matters as touch and articulation), but these are nonetheless solid and well-intention performances of one of Bach organ masterpieces. And Wim van Beek certainly knows the organ better than anybody else.
The CD booklet includes details of the organ’s history and very detailed notes on the pieces as well as the specification and registration details of all the pieces.