Classical Music Sentinel

What an impressive little instrument this Th. Frobenius (Opus 1000) pipe organ is. The Danish firm of Frobenius built this 19 stop organ in 1998 for the 320 year old Kirk of the Canongate church in Edinburgh. They build organs with characteristic modern casework, but the instruments themselves are built in the classical tradition, with mechanical actions. From the very first notes of the opening Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 , you can tell that this organ is extremely well balanced in its voicing, and that every stop, from the 16′ pedal stops to the 2′ Flute, are designed and built in perfect proportion to each other. And don’t be misled by its size. When power is called for, as in the end of the Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 , it’s there. It might not be the bone rattling sound you get from a 100 stop organ with 32′ pedal stops, but rather a bright, clean, direct and focused power where each and every note of a chord comes through nice and clear. Balance, proportion and output scaling are definitely this organ’s strong points. And all these qualities are very well captured and reproduced by the Divine Art recording, in which you can clearly hear the speech of each individual pipe.

The works chosen for this recording fit this organ’s personality very well, and help display its versatility and sunny character. They are as follows:

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582
Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721
Pièce d’Orgue, BWV 582
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’, BWV 678
Prelude and Fugue in E flat major, BWV 552

Organist David Hamilton , a Royal College of Organists exams prizewinner and teacher, uses this organ’s attributes and Canongate’s acoustics to his advantage, and delivers a crisp, focused and finely registered account of all these pieces, and really brings out the instrument’s charm in the BWV 645 and the Fugue of the BWV 564. His previous Divine Art CD of organ works by Buxtehude, was very well received and reviewed by many music critics around the world. There are many fine recordings on the market today of Bach’s organ works, each one valid for different reasons. This new recording, based on all the aforementioned points, should rest nicely at the top of the heap.

—Jean-Yves Duperron