BACH: Toccata and Fugue in D minor; Prelude and Fugue in D; Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor; Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C; Fantasia and Fugue in G minor – Florence Mustric, organ – MSR

by | Jun 27, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

"The Thrill of the Chase" = BACH: Toccata and Fugue in D minor; Prelude and Fugue in D; Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor; Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C; Fantasia and Fugue in G minor – Florence Mustric, organ – MSR 1271, 65:23 ***1/2: [Distr.
by Albany]

This is volume 2 of Mustric’s series on the Rudolph von Beckerath organ at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cleveland. This versatile instrument is approaching the refurbishing stage, and these recordings are designed to show off the pre-restoration qualities of the machine. The sound is indeed quite vibrant and powerful; but I fear that the recording is too close as there is little sense of space around the instrument, and this is something that is essential when trying to record an organ. Part of the very nature of the sound resides in the reverberant silence that flows from the end of any produced note. Here I do not hear much of that; instead it is as though the listener is trapped in a large practice room. Clarity is superb—rarely will you hear Bach’s lines so clearly delineated. But the sapping of the sound also saps the emotive content of the music.

Ms. Mustric for the most part has mastery over this music, but I wish her rather vanilla emphasis on the downbeat was a little more subtle. This ends up giving us the impression that her understanding of rhythmic elasticity is to step through the sidewalk one concrete panel at a time. Bach demands a more flexible approach to rhythm, one that adds a certain amount of lilt in order to more fully project the complexities of his counterpoint.

Nevertheless, I can hear the commitment in this music, and the emphasis on lucidity and cleanliness of line is most impressive. I still wish there was more resonance around the instrument, but what we do hear is very well recorded and the felicities of this organ are captured with no loss of quality. Indeed it is hard to imagine any virtues of this organ being lost in the recording, so attentive are the microphones. The program itself is extremely attractive, some of Bach’s most famous and beloved pieces. If this cannot be recommended as a primary source for this music it certainly serves well as a second opinion.

— Steven Ritter   

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