J.S. Bach

25/04/2002
Tony Way
The Age 'Green Guide' (Australia)

Departing from the realm of vocal music, Melba Recordings has captured distinguished scholar John O'Donnell at the Ahrend organ of Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, play Bach's Leipzig Chorales. This collection of 18 chorales is wide-ranging in conception and expression and is the perfect vehicle for revealing the marvellously diverse colours of the Ahrend. The chorales are framed by two popular Bach organ works, the Toccata in C (BWV 564) and the Passacaglia (BWV 582). O'Donnell brings his great depth of scholarship to bear on his performances - not for him idiosyncratic or romantic gestures, but a great respect for the score and its relevant performance practise. By delivering the music with utmost clarity, O'Donnell performs the important service of demystifying Bach's denser constructions, as in Trio on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (BWV 660) and the variations on Von himmel hoch (BWV 769a). This two-disk set is produced to Melba's usual exemplary standards and will greatly reward students and music lovers alike.