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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIPster Wars - News from the Bach Front - Communiqué 54, 8 Feb 2013
This review is from: Bach: Organ Works (Audio CD)
You are unlikely to find Lionel Rogg on the boulevard at St Tropez walking with Karl Lagerfeld and his precious pooches. Word has it that Pierre Bergé himself has banned Lionel from the premises of Prunier. Macau's casino-owners breathe easier at the mere mention of his name: a high-rolling Hell Raiser he ain't. No, you are more likely to find Lionel lurking in some dusty organ-loft, pale-faced and gun-shy, clutching a tattered music book and humming two-part inventions to himself. Indeed, if I had been Lionel's lawyer, I would have sued EMI for the series of photos they used to adorn his mid-1980s reissues (on the assumption I could firstly track down my bookish client); flattering they were not. Heedless of his recordings, any registered SBL (Smug Bach Lover) will recognise Rogg as one of their own: the turtle-neck skivvies, the bullet-proof glasses and the `Renaissance' mullet broadcast his status unerringly.

But sit Lionel in front of an organ and a metamorphosis occurs. Jane becomes Tarzan.

This Bach recital is a stupendous survey of some of the greatest music ever penned. Rogg's playing is characterised by flare and propulsive energy. In his hands, polyphony is the mother-tongue of the cosmos. Ever so present, the organ sounds like a leviathan that has been summoned from the Abyss. When Bach is played in such a fashion - just listen to the demonic opening of the Fantasy and Fugue in G Minor - Milton inevitably comes to mind:

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened, but to shut
Excelled her power; the gates wide open stood

Above all, Rogg evinces enormous grip on these scores: as he ploughs into the mighty Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, the wood is fully in view, not the trees: its peroration is overwhelming. If Stokowski had heard this rendition of the Passacaglia and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, the pen might have dropped from his hand then and there: why bother with a transcription? Celestial stillness instils the meditative moments of the Schubler chorales.

This is a masterly recital. SBLs, rejoice!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 1 Jan 2014
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bach: Organ Works (Audio CD)
I have loved this recording ever since I first heard and bought it on a hissy cassette tape in the late 70's; since then the sound has been cleaned up and you can hear Rogg playing with a grandeur and an over-arching grasp of the music's shape which I believe has never since been equalled, The master performance here is of Bach's own master work, the "Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor"; the finest piece of its kind that I know, the "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" not excepted. Rogg has a marvellous grasp of the architecture and pacing of this wondrous work and the colour he draws from the organ by his choice of stops is a delight: the music thunders and surges, then subsides into what for all the world sounds like bubbles of sound percolating through the denser surrounding air. I have tried in vain to find a performance equal to this but for me no other famous organist can approach it - not Peter Hurford nor even Rogg's later self on EMI. The Schubler chorales are also expertly and sensitively played. Unfortunately, this disc is hard to obtain and is, I believe, currently available only as part of a complete set; so meanwhile look out for second-hand copy - it's a winner, even for those who think that they do not much like organ music. For them, this is a perfect introduction and sufficient to convert any waverer.
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Bach: Organ Works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Audio CD - 2000)
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