Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power and colour, 17 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Bach - Clavier Ubung (Audio CD)
Matteo Messori's recording of Clavierübung III offers us 3 new things: 1) a chance to hear this music on 3 organs from Bach's own time and geographical area; 2) a conscious rejection of countless outdated dogmas about the performance of these works (tempo, articulation, registration, etc.) that have plagued earlier recordings and rendered them museum pieces rather than living works of art, and 3) a real sense of the fun and fire in the music, in contrast to earlier, over-reverential recordings.

Messori certainly doesn't hold back: the Prelude and Fugue that frame the collection, along with the pedaliter "Kyrie, Gott, heiliger Geist", "Wir gläuben all' in einen Gott" and "Aus tiefer Not" are all played on (near-)full organ. The smaller-scale chorales inspire Messori to registrations often verging on the lurid: a constantly-shifting kaleidoscope of exotic sonic cocktails. Several of the manualiter chorales include 16's, and the manual fugue on "Herr Jesu Christ" uses an unearthly undulant stop. Another delicious touch is the glockenspiel doubling the chorale melody (in canon) in the pedaliter "Dies sind die zehn...".

Messori explains in the liner notes how his research into contemporary performance practices has produced some surprising results, and not only in registrations. His articulation is strikingly more legato overall than most previous recordings, much more in tune with the smooth contours and supreme refinement of Bach's late style (this collection derives from the 1740s).

Tempi are surprisingly relaxed, allowing the sheer weight of sound of these instruments to speak fully, and all the contrapuntal detail to be heard through the resulting sonic chiaroscuro. Even pieces played on charmingly delicate registrations (the four Duetti, the fughetta on "Allein Gott", etc.) somehow sound gravitational as well as whimsical.

The unequal temperaments of the 3 instruments bring Bach's harmonic sophistication into stunning relief, dissonances and false-relations ranging from the sickly-sweet to the agonisingly acrid, but never boring (as with instruments tuned in equal temperament).

As a whole, it's impassioned, unconventional and great fun to listen to, ranging from the overwhelmingly moving large-scale works to tiny, artless fughettas lasting 40 seconds or less. More than recommended.
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