Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Bach on the bright side
on 17 February 2014
I bought Chapuis' complete survey of Bach on vinyl when it first appeared (only getting rid of it for reasons of space) and I enjoyed it so much that I took the opportunity of seeing Chapuis perform live at the Royal Festival Hall. Some of the critics seemed to find fault with his tempi so, since I am no Bach expert, I decided to investigate other sets when repurchasing the organ works on CD. Over the decades I've owned Rogg (on Harmonia Mundi), who I found rather dull, Hurford (on Decca) who seems rather eccentric at times and Preston (on DGG) who I have found very satisfactory and whose set I currently own. However, there were aspects of Chapuis' set that I missed and I recently purchased it again as a download at the ridiculously cheap price offered above. I do not mind not having notes, because I can always refer to those in the Preston set.
Comparing Chapuis' account with Preston's, I find that the former does favour rather faster tempi and also brighter registrations which give his fast passage work a silvery quality as the notes flash by (this is aided by the recording which is especially good at capturing the high frequencies), although I have to add that the ear can tire a little of his fondness for the 1 foot stop (particularly in the Trio Sonatas). However, Chapuis is an imaginative organist and I find comparison with Preston very interesting. A good example of this is the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor BVW 537 of which both he and Preston seem to have similar ideas, electing to play the Fantasia quietly. Naturally Preston uses reduced registration for this, but Chapuis goes a whole step further in selecting the quietest stops with the result that the opening has an ethereal quality.
I am very happy to renew acquaintance with Chapuis' Bach and I find his interpretations a satisfying alternative to the more mainstream ones of Preston and others. The remastered recordings are clear and immediate, coping with the live acoustics of the venues very well so that little is lost, even in fast passages (just occasionally detail is obscured). This set is a fine challenge to other versions and, for those who like their Bach on the bright side, this would be a good choice, particularly considering the low price.