Iveta Apkalna

Bach, Glass

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For her 2015 double-CD release on Oehms Classics, organist Iveta Apkalna has selected works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Philip Glass that make an interesting, if not wholly successful, pairing. Superficially, Bach's motoric polyphony and Glass' cycling patterns share a mechanical quality that might make them seem well-matched, especially on the organ. Yet Bach's works were composed specifically for the organ, with its differentiated voicings giving clarity to his counterpoint, while the Glass transcriptions were written for ensembles with rather uniform instrumental textures, creating an altogther different effect. That said, Apkalna demonstrates a technical brilliance in the Glass pieces that is comparable in speed and precision to the original versions, but she shows a deeper affinity for Bach, and her playing in this part of the program is dynamic, energetic, and personally expressive. While one may listen to the Glass CD once to see how well his music sounds on the organ, the Bach disc shows Apkalna at her best and invites repeated listening. The recording in the Himmerod Abbey captures the full resonance of the church acoustics, which seem to be well-suited to the bright sonorities of the Klais Organ.

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