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J.S. Bach: Organ Transcriptions; Orchestral Suites 2 & 3; Ch Wolfgang Rubsam

J.S. Bach: Organ Transcriptions; Orchestral Suites 2 & 3; Ch Wolfgang Rubsam

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Over the course of more than half a century, Wolfgang Rübsam has consistently brought new insights to bear on the keyboard music of Bach, firstly in sets of the canonic organ music for Philips, then the same for Naxos. In the last few years, his musicianship and understanding of Bach enriched by those decades of experience, he has turned to the harpsichord/piano repertoire for Brilliant Classics. A series of critically acclaimed albums has shed new light on The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, the Partitas and Toccatas with Rübsam’s performance of them on a lautenwerk – a ‘lute-harpsichord’ with a distinctive chime and colour which Bach himself would have been familiar with. Rübsam now returns to the organ, with new transcriptions and recordings of two Orchestral Suites and Chaconne from the D minor Partita for solo violin. While the Chaconne has attracted transcribers and arrangers ever since the 19th century, drawn magnetically to its evolving variations on a ground bass which accumulate an emotional power unusual even for Bach, the Orchestral Suites are much less often encountered outside their original garb. Yet we can be sure that Bach himself would have embraced Rübsam’s idea with enthusiasm. The Suites themselves are compilations of dances, probably not all originally designed for their eventual destination as high-class entertainment music for the concert series at Café Zimmermann in Leipzig, and Bach repurposed some of their movements as sinfonias and even choruses for his church cantatas. As in his fairly free transcription of the Chaconne, Rübsam has made full use of the instrument at his disposal, a magnificent Casavant instrument (1998) at the Church of St. Louis, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The booklet includes a full disposition for the organ as well as an essay introducing both the works and Rübsam’s uniquely imaginative approach to them. ‘If the sound of the lute-harpsichord highlights Bach’s debt to French lute music, especially in the First Prelude, the instrument clarifies that homage while Rübsam’s interpretation transcends it.’ (Fanfare, November 2018, The Well-Tempered Clavier, 96750)
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    • Number of Discs: 1
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    • Label: Brilliant Classics
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