Stefano Molardi branches out with Bach Family Organ Works

Consider this release a companion volume to Stefano Molardi’s previous Bach recording. That 2-disc set featured the complete works of Johann Michael Bach and Johann Christoph Bach (Johann Sebastian’s first cousin, once removed).

There was enough material by J.M. Bach and J.C. Bach to fill two CDs. Not so in the case of the family members featured here. While just as prolific as their more famous relation, only a fraction of their output has survived.

The quality of writing is consistent throughout the family. The generation before Johann Sebastian (JS) write in a simpler, cleaner style. Those of Johann Sebastian’s generation share his interest in complex counterpoint and more advanced harmonies.

The few organ works by Heinrich Bach (JS’s great-uncle) are fantasias based on hymn tunes. It’s easy to hear the musical foundation on which JS would build.

Johann Lorenz studied with JS, and it shows. His sole surviving work, the Prelude and Fugue in D major is a masterwork, rivaling similar works by JS.

Johann Bernhard Bach I (1676-1691) was JS’s second cousin. He worked with Telemann. His organ work has Telemann’s directness to them — although several were misattributed to JS.

His son, Johann Ernst II studied with JS (second cousin, once removed) at Leipzig. To my ears, his music anticipates the leaner pre-Classical style Johann Sebastian’s own sons would adopt.

The works by Johann Friedrich I resemble those of his first cousin once removed. They’re not as complex, but still quite tuneful and appealing. (If you’re keeping score, JFI was the son of Johann Christoph Bach, featured in Molardi’s previous release).

Stefano Molardi delivers insightful and well-informed performances. Even without referring to the liner notes, I could hear the minor differences in styles between the Bachs. And most especially between the generations.

This release shows that a good portion of Johann Sebastian Bach’s talent was indeed in the blood.

Bach Family Organ Works
Stefano Molardi, organ
Brilliant Classics

 

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