Review - J. S. Bach Organ
Works, Vol. I: German Virtuosity & Italian Elegance
"There are many reasons why one must
own this recording. One reason is to hear the organ: Fritts-Richards
Organ Builders, Op. 3, at St. Alphonsus Parish Church in Seattle,
Washington. This organ is one of the most significant installations
in recent years. Based on North-German principles of the late
17th and 18th centuries, it is an organ ideally suited to the
music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Its sound is further enhanced
by the resonant acoustics of the church.
"Another reason is to hear the artist, George
Ritchie. Dr. Ritchie possesses a flawless technique that neither
draws attention to itself, nor detracts from the music in any
way: his playing always sounds effortless. His performance is
sensitive to musical and stylistic considerations.
"The music included on the program provides
a third reason for owning this recording. One might argue that
the world does not need yet another recording of Bach organ works.
That may be, but this is Bach as Bach intended his music to be
"The interesting and informative notes of
the liner booklet are another reason to own this CD. Written by
George Stauffer, the notes provide the reader with historical
and technical information about each piece. Also included is a
disposition of the organ, and a list of registrations used by
Dr. Ritchie throughout the recording.
"The world's best organ music, a world-class
organ, and a premier performer all combine to make this collection
a must for any serious collector of organ recordings. I commend
this CD highly."
|The American Organist,
|"The subtitle of this release describes it accurately
in one phrase: "German Virtuosity & Italian Elegance."
The music, both virtuosic and elegant, represents a good cross section
of Bach's styles and periods, and makes a satisfying recital heightened
by the magnificant sonorities of the 1984 Fritts-Richards organ, the
builders' Op.3. This instrument, based on North German principles
of the late 17th and early 18th centuries and tuned in Kirnberger
III temperament, is a perfect vehicle for the works at hand - it serves
to accentuate what is already implicit in the music. As George Stauffer
notes in his interesting essay in the program booklet, "Almost
300 years after they were set down on paper, Bach's organ works continue
to surprise, astonish, and delight. The richness of harmony, the sophistication
of counterpoint, and the boldness of technique place them among the
most rewarding - and challenging - pieces ever written for the instrument."
Dr. Ritchie's well-reasoned interpretation yields an excellent performance,
which is, again, both virtuosic and elegant, and which promotes musical
values above all else. The booklet includes the specification and
the complete registrations - the latter being a real boon to anyone
who really wants to study the sounds of this organ. Producer William
Van Pelt's work has resulted in natural, lifelike recorded sound.
This is a beautiful recording that provides satisfying listening time
Vol. 75, No. 295.
|"This is an authoritative recording by a scholar
who can translate theory into practice. Recorded on an unenclosed,
2 manual instrument built in 1984 by Fritts-Richards as Opus 3, George
Ritchie plays a well-chosen programme which fully demonstrates the
versatility of this magnificent 31-stop organ from the impressive
Principal choruses - heard to good effect in the three large-scale
contrapuntal works - to the delightful softer registers such as the
wonderfully bucolic 8 Dulcian in the First Movement of the Pastorella
and the numerous flute and mutation combinations in Sei gegrusset.
In fact, my only reservation regarding registration is the over-use
of the 32' Reed in the whole of the Fantasia in G minor. Full
registrational details of each piece are included together with a
specification of the organ and excellent notes by George B Stauffer.
This is a most enjoyable recording. Ritchie plays with style and his
tempos are not excessive."