DEFINITIVE RECORDINGS
Bach - Orgelbüchlein

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Isnard organ of St Maximin
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - Orgelbüchlein - Pierre Bardon (Organ) - 2-Disc Set - 3491421414366 - Released: August 2011 - Syrius 141436

One of the most interesting set of CDs to cross my path this year. A splendid example of superb recording, thoughtful structure in the program, and artful playing. To set the playing field I will devulge what is in my collection. I have Jean Guillou, Peter Hurford, Simon Preston, Helmut Walcha, and Maasaki Suzuki as well as Ulrick Bohme. This set of Bach's Orgelbüchlein will be one I turn to for years to come, as a reference of what can be accomplished in the art of organ music.

Bach's Orgelbüchlein was written in a manner that demonstrates possibilities in musical development from simple themes. All the pieces are embellishments over top of the original chorale. Pierre Bardon has set up each chorale as an introduction. A means to whet the appetite musically speaking. What ensues after the chorale is Bach's learned embellishments. In almost every case what we hear written by Bach takes you aback in the thoughtful process in which he takes a simple theme and expounds upon it to create a very thoroughly worked out piece of art. Multi-faceted works of exquisite art in the style of Fabergé.

The playing is flawless. The tone colour is most varied and impressive. This organ, the historical Isnard organ of the Basilca of St. Maximin in Provence, can do things few others are even hoping to achieve. Powerful is just beginning to explain some of the tracks. But it is power in a balance that is difficult to describe unless you hear it. Musical lines are clear within the pieces no matter if they are delicately voiced or loud and proud. To say the performer is a master in the art of voicing his instrument does not do him proper justice. Mr. Bardon has been at it's console for fifty years. He has tamed the powerfull beast! It is at times beautifully soft and subtle. Other times it will shake your innards and raise your spirits as no other instrument is capable of.

For anyone that has heard the Orgelbüchlein, this is a reference quality set. For those to whom this is their first foray into listening to Bach, what has been accomplished herein has been accomplished by few indeed.

A whole-hearted Thumbs Up!

Below is a video featuring this historic organ with Pierre Bardon at the console.

Mark Wm. Kravchenko - November 2011