The music: In this recital you get some gems of JS Bach’s organ output, including the exquisite choral preludes Erbarm ditch. O Mensch bewein dein and Wachet auf (the latter from the Lloyds Bank ad) and a few larger works including the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. It’s music that’s eminently listenable-to and yet recognisably crafted with extraordinary and humble genius.
The performance: This is a fine meeting of instrument and performer. The organ in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk was built in 1998 using materials Bach would have recognised. It’s not the most powerful instrument, so immediately surprising is that the imposing Passacaglia works so well – played with a delicate beauty that actually finds great cumulative power. His repertoire is perfectly matched to the instrument’s clear sonorities and played with light dexterity but weighty intellect. That, and Hamilton has a habit of reaching for the perfect stop to illuminate particular lines.
The verdict: I’ve had hours of pleasure from this CD already and there are many more to come.
Why You’ll Love This
In this famous chorale prelude Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme Hamilton chooses just the right stops to create the sense of three different-yet integrated musical lines. The piece has rarely sounded more deliciously clear-cut and translucent.
You can’t play ‘harder’ or ‘lighter’ on an organ, but you can play expressively in other ways – take the wonderful space Hamilton suggests in the opening bar of O Mensch bewein and the anguish of his poised trills.
With a Flourish
After the pedal – workout introduction to Bach’s Toccata in C major, the sprightly major – key cadences resound with a truly joyous feel and Hamilton’s fingers appear to dance quicksilver-like through the ensuing passages.
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