02 Bach Clavier UbungBach – Clavier Übung III | The Pedal Settings
Renée Anne Louprette
Acis APL41745 (acisproductions.com)

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Clavier Übung III is a masterwork of the organ repertoire, consisting of diverse and complex chorale preludes bookended by a grandiose prelude and fugue, commonly known as the “St. Anne,” BWV 552. Divided into several theological categories, the chorale preludes explore a range of musical styles and textures, from dense five-and six-part counterpoint with pedal to two-part textures which resemble Bach’s earlier keyboard inventions. 

This recording omits the two-part preludes, including only the chorale settings that incorporate the pedals. While the smaller-scale preludes are delightful works, this decision condenses the Clavier Übung into a non-stop journey through some of Bach’s most difficult and demanding organ music. Performed on the Craighead-Saunders Organ at Christ Church Episcopal in Rochester, New York which is modeled after a 1776 Lithuanian instrument by Adam Gottlieb Casparini, this organ is a wonderful vehicle for Bach’s music, containing a superb mix of brightness, boldness and blend.

A renowned international performer, American organist Renée Anne Louprette provides a splendid rendition of these challenging, inspiring works. It is no small feat to make such complex music sound apparent and simple, but Louprette rises to the task with technical facility, straightforward interpretations and a choice of registrations that emphasize form and clarity. Bach’s genius is such that his music rarely benefits from over-interpretation, and Louprette’s great success lies in the dedication shown to the music itself, without introducing unnecessary complexities. The Clavier Übung III is some of the purest and most profound instrumental music Bach wrote, and this recording provides a glimpse into the mind of the master through his music.

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