|Todd M. Billeci|
The Marcussen Organ at Sct. Hans Kirke, Odense, Denmark
Overview - Bowyer's cycle, in progress since 1991, features unmannered virtuosity, an organ of striking tone quality and an exceptionally realistic modern recording. Each disc contains a variety of works in the form of a recital, sustaining interest throughout. Bowyer's intriguing registrations distinguish the set.
Volume X - The Eighteen Leipzig Chorales occupy most of this 2-CD volume. The fair copy of "The 18" was completed in the last year of JSB's life simultaneously with the final transcription of the B minor Mass. These mature Bach works (and the CD overall) lack the pyrotechnics of early virtuoso works (e.g. BWV 565) and focus instead on contrapuntal and spiritual density. This music is made up of the Special Stuff at the center of stars.
Bowyer's sensitive cantabile hypnotizes - and I'd liken his performances here to those of pianist Sviatoslav Richter at his most inspired. The mood is meditative and deep, excepting a fill-up in the form of the ebullient concerto in C after Vivaldi...presumably programmed finis to transport the listener back to this Earth at the end. Full recommendation.