Bach: Art of Fugue

Bach Organ Works Vol. X: Art of Fugue
Margaret Phillips
Richards, Fowkes and Co. organ, 2012
St George’s Hanover Square, London
Regent Records REGCD558
. 2 CDs. 120’58

The Art of Fugue, BWV1080
Canonic Variations on ‘Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her’, BWV769
The Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus XIV completion by Kevin Korsyn

The final volume of Margaret Phillips’ complete Bach organ works is a version of The Art of Fugue, arranged for organ. I say ‘arranged’ because there is no indication of which instrument Bach intended his monumental work – if, indeed, he ever intended it for performance at all. It was written and published in open-score, with a separate musical stave for each of the four voices. There are no orchestral instruments of the time that could play all the lines on the same instrument, leading to the assumption that it was intended for the harpsichord. Performance on the organ is common, although there are many questions to be considered, not least the choice of registrations.

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Cornhill Visions – A Century of Musical Innovation

Cornhill Visions
A Century of Musical Innovation
The Choir of St Michael’s Cornhill, Jonathan Rennert
Regent Records, REGCD550. 66’03

The City of London’s churches are something of an institution. Architecturally fascinating, they have idiosyncrative opening and service times, with most closed at the weekends. Many retain medieval links to city guilds and livery companies. With an area of just over one square mile, the City of London has 46 churches for a resident population of less than 10,000 but a working week population of around one million. It is to the latter that most of the churches cater, not least in thriving programmes of lunchtime musical events. Continue reading

Versus: The Garnier Organ

Head of Organ Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire

Versus
Henry Fairs
The Garnier Organ, Elgar Concert Hall
University of Birmingham
Regent Records REGCD516. 74’35

This is the first recording of the new Garnier organ in the Elgar Concert Hall of Birmingham University. It is played by the organ’s curator, Henry Fairs. He is Head of Organ Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire and was closely involved with the installation of the Garnier organ. A well-chosen programme demonstrates the organ, and its companion continuo organ, as well as some impressive playing by Fairs. He opens and closes with major Bach works, the better-known opening Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue (BWV 564) given a subtly individual reading that adds interest without approaching the mannerisms of some organists who feel the need to do something different. An example is performing the sprightly fugue on a massive chorus based on a 16′ manual reed. The lesser-known concluding Praeludium in C (BWV 566a), which might originally have been in E major) is given a similarly grand interpretation.
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