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.
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.
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.
This work is a must to those who love powerful church organs associated with a lifetime work from both Masters: Bach with your geniality and mathematical compositions and Simon Preston whose interpretation is simply a delight.
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.
This box comes at a bargain price and it contains the cvasi-complete organ works of Bach (excepting Neumeister collection). I consider it is one of the best modern recordings existing nowadays. The Trio Sonatas, the concerts and the Eighteen Chorales are wonderful and very original - to say the truth, Preston has a new, modern vision on Bach. The organs chosen for these recordings are among the best ones, with a so pleasant sound! DG engineers made a good job, as the Organ is one of the most difficult instrument to be recorded. They deserve all our esteem! Among my other complete organ recordings, Mr. Simon Preston's set is one of the best existing in my collection and I listen often to it or to Marie-Calire Alain' third recording from Erato (another gem!).
For those who need a lot of Legato in BACH pieces, I would strongly advise to go for another organist. Now for those like me who can't stand Legato play in BACH pieces, this is just like heaven. The play is absolutely flawless, each note is crisp and clear, "despite" the brisk pace. I say despite, but it is by no means a criticism as I think the tempo is just as right as the play. 548 is probably the only one I would have liked slower, but that is really down to personal preference. A must have for Bach lovers.
The sensitive perfection of Preston's playing and the quality of the instruments used and of the recordings make this an essential edition of Bach's organ works and a significant milestone in their recorded performance.
Having been disappointed by Hans Fagius' recording of Bach's complete organ works, I turned to Preston. Thankfully, he does not disappoint; the majestic music of Bach sparkles in his hands (and feet!).