HELMUT WALCHA - Chorale Preludes Vol. 4

Buy CD from Amazon

HELMUT WALCHA - Chorale Preludes Vol. 3

Buy CD from Amazon

HELMUT WALCHA - Chorale Preludes Vol. 2

Buy CD from Amazon

HELMUT WALCHA - Chorale Preludes Vol. 1

Buy CD from Amazon
HELMUT WALCHA - Chorale Preludes Vol. 4 - Delbert Disselhorst (Organ) - John Brombaugh Organ Opus 35 - 747313291373 - Released: August 2013 - Naxos 8.572913

As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end", but it's truly unfortunate when it applies to something this good. This recording of the Chorale Preludes Vol. 4 by organist/composer Helmut Walcha is the final volume in the series, covering all 88 of these Preludes. I myself would easily have run out of ideas and inspiration by about number 20, but each and everyone of these displays a wealth of harmonic diversity and an endless gamut of colors and inventive counterpoint. Helmut Walcha (1907-1991), a blind organist who was one of the first to record all of Bach's organ works and perform them live many times over, must have absorbed Bach's harmonic genius by osmosis, as it lives in his own music. I myself can't help but marvel at the way he constantly makes the listeners think that the opening bars can't possibly lead to anything logical or concrete, but than proves them wrong by crafting a wonderful piece of music with a perfect resolution.

Volumes 1 and 2, reviewed here and here, were recorded by organist Wolfgang Rübsam while the final two volumes were with Delbert Disselhorst. From one to the next there is no major difference in interpretation, which makes for a cohesive set from start to finish. The organ used in all four recordings is the John Brombaugh Organ, Opus 35 from the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois, and a better match for this music's character could not have been found. Its clear and pitch-perfect stops allow the simple clarity of the music to come through.

This is requisite study material for all organists out there, and a must-hear for any fans of pipe organ music.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2013