J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue & Pachelbel

Record Label: MSR Classics
Release Date: March 2014

Pachelbel: Canon, Chorale Preludes & Chaconne [MS1442]

Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel

J.S. Bach – Art of the Fugue
FISK ORGAN, OPUS 83 [1983]
Downtown United Presbyterian Church
Rochester, New York

J. Pachelbel
FISK ORGAN, OPUS 95 [1990]
Slee Hall at the State University of Buffalo
Buffalo, New York State

2-CD Set


“Harbach gives a towering performance of Bach’s pieces, while her Pachelbel has a rich and colourful palette that gives these works their unique and distinct timbre.”
Gerald Fenech, Music&Vision [February 2016]

“[Harbach’s] thorough professionalism makes the performances worth hearing.”
Haskins, American Record Guide [January/February 2015]

“The arguments over Bach’s Art of Fugue will never end; what was it for, what instrument should it be played on, should it be completed, on and on it goes… So which instrument? It seems to me obvious that the most practical and comprehensive instrument to be found for such an undertaking is right here on this recording. Only an organ can loftily cover all the demands of this piece, and it greatly expands the idea of color and registration within the confines of one person’s imagination. I have heard many worthy contenders on other instruments and for other combinations, but the organ remains the most convincing… What about the ending? This has perplexed artists for years, especially as the original manuscript version does have an ending, fully in place ten years before the published version. But evidence shows that Bach was not content with the work, revising it, and finally dying before the last quadruple fugue was completed… The sudden cutoff, so profoundly a reminder of genius stopped, adds a pathetic dimension of great emotion and drama, and I am happy that Harbach does that here. This is an excellent reading of this work done with thoughtfulness and a lot of passion… The Pachelbel works…serve as a nice come-down from the fugal complexities and utter perfection of the Bach. The famous Canon is nicely presented… The two Chaconnes are fine works, very involved and dramatic, the D-minor of an exquisite fiery sensibility that Pachelbel nonetheless keeps under control. He is best known for his chorale preludes, and these thirteen selections show why; an ever-inventive nature that is able to wed seasonal requirements to music that is fully descriptive and yet brilliantly independent make for enthralling listening on a number of levels. The tonal characteristics of the Fisk organ offer lots of opportunities for experimentation and a truly crisp presentation of these works. The engineers have captured both venues very well, and Harbach is to be congratulated on a fine offering.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [July 2014]

“[this is] a new digital remastering of Gasparo Records material, and it is quite well done both technically and musically. Harbach has a fine sense of the shaping of Bach’s The Art of Fugue, choosing registrations carefully and allowing the music to move from the delicate to the sinewy and back. She plays with sureness, understanding and a strong sense of Bach’s style, using well-chosen tempos and allowing the various fugal lines to emerge, blend and subside with what feels like inevitability… the other, less-familiar material in this two-CD set is equally well played and equally intriguing, albeit in different ways. There is a veritable plethora of Pachelbel here, and it is very, very welcome indeed, since for most listeners Pachelbel has been reduced to a single super-well-known canon [The Pachelbel] from the familiar to the very unfamiliar indeed, is wonderful in its own right, played with high skill and considerable understanding, and a notable addition to the collection of any listener interested in the highest reaches of the high Baroque.”
Mark Estren, InfoDad [July 2014]

“…wonderful, commanding performances by Harbach on truly grand-sounding organs and imposing-sounding recordings. Strongly recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [November/December 2014] [* * * *]