30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2012
I took a chance on buying this collection after spending a lot of time listening to the complete Bach recordings by Kevin Bowyer, which I am still very fond of; and I have to say, Simon Preston is also mightily impressive. First impressions were a little surprising - Preston maintains consistently brisker tempo than Bowyer; and he lends towards a more virtuosic, staccato quality in nearly all of his interpretations; whereas Kevin Bowyer's performances are a lot more laid back, providing the listener with a smooth, rich and deep tonal palate. I love both, but if I had to choose one, then it would be Simon Preston.
One of the things that initially attracted me to Bowyer's recordings, were his use of one single organ throughout his massive traversal of Bach's known, and spurious compositions (a total of 29 CD's in 17 volumes). He plays the Marcussen Organ of Sct. Hans Kirke Ordense, Denmark. The recordings were made over a period of 9 years (91-2000), and the sound is amazingly consistent. The downside is that all of the important compositions are scattered amongst a series of 'recitals'. So, for example, if you wanted to listen to the Trio Sonatas....you'd have to search through all of the discs to get at them, as they're buried amongst other works in each disc. It's also difficult to get away from the none genuine pieces which are mixed into the recitals. This was something I never really quite liked (others however, do like this layout); and its what prompted me to buy this set, with its much more uniform composition layout. It turned out to be one of my better strategies, because I have also been blown away by the sheer majesty and power of Preston's interpretations.
The sound quality is consistently superb on all of the fourteen discs in this set, and although he uses approximately 10 different organs, you wouldn't really notice any difference unless you were an expert (which I am not). Even with a recording span of over 12 years (1987-2000), you should not be able to differentiate between the earliest and final recordings. By that I mean no degradation of sound quality, in the same sense of, for example, Adam Fischer's early Haydn recordings sounding poor when compared to his middle and late recordings. Simon Preston's rendition of the Concerto's, which are the earliest recordings in this collection, dating from 1987, are as fine as any in the catalogue - and one can only revel in the sheer mastery which he brings to these scores; in particular, his glorious execution of the Trio Sonatas.
There is far too much music contained within this inch wide, little box of treasures to cover in one review - but all I can offer is my sincerest recommendation of this wonderfully presented treasure trove, which comprises the complete known works for Organ by Bach (with the exception of the organ version of The Art of Fugue). I can't think of a reason why anyone would be disappointed with this set, with its involved and lively interpretations, recorded in resplendent, modern sound. I have noticed that this set fluctuates wildly in price; from nearly seventy pounds to as low as thirty five pounds. I paid thirty eight pounds via Amazon, but I would have happily paid more.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2013
I bought Peter Hurford's complete organ works of Bach a while back mainly on the basis of its Penguin Guide rosette status. My father was a church organist who idolised J.S. Bach and I wanted a recording to remember him by. I have to say that whilst I have the uptmost respect for Hurford (his recording of Franck's three chorales on Decca are unsurpassed in my opinion) I was dissapointed with his choice of registration on some of Bach's major works. It seemed to me that in the quest for textural clarity he had sacrificed the feeling of grandeur and majesty (e.g. BWV 545 and BWV 547). I was attracted to Simon Preston's version having listened to sound clips (and seen the price on Amazon!). As soon as I listened to the first pieces I felt that everything sounded "right" - the sound world was a bit like Helmut Walcha with more life and clarity. Preston's recording is for me the perfect Bach organ sound and interpretation, and like other reviewers I think that the recording quality from DG is exemplary. Highly recommended.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2012
Not much to add to other reviews, but do consider that each of these discs when they first came out at the end of the last century would have cost well over £10 each. Now you get all 14 discs for under £30: that's just over £2 per disc! Go on, try to claim that's not good value. I dare you. Once you realise you can't, just buy it and enjoy it.
on 21 November 2015
Preston's playing is correct and measured, though having been raised on Walcha's dramatic performances, these are a bit sedate in comparison. However, the recordings are good, Preston's technique is excellent, the organs and venues are full of character, and the overall value is excellent. I look forward to listening to these over the years.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2013
I like Simon Preston's Bach. Much joy and sprightly rhythms everywhere. Quite different from Walcha, which would be my first choice. Preston comes in a worthy second. No regrets at having bought it! Very positive lively playing which communicates a certain joie de vivre.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
If you like Bach, like the sound of the Organ, then this is perfect. My husband was really pleased with it and it included more than the pieces he had originally wanted.