Lionel Rogg

Bach: The Art of Fugue; Organ Concertos

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At the end of this two-disc set of Lionel Rogg playing Bach's Der Kunst der Fuge coupled with his four organ arrangements of concertos by Vivaldi and Ernst, some listeners may understandably reach for the aspirin. Der Kunst der Fuge is, of course, Bach at his most intellectually brain-splitting while the organ concertos are Bach at his most technically knuckle-busting. But that's not the half of it. Swiss organist Lionel Rogg is one of the most flamboyantly virtuosic Bach players out there, and his performances here are jaw-droppingly brilliant. While this approach suits the ostentatious concertos better than the severe Der Kunst der Fuge, it is always quite impressive. But while that's a lot of it, that's still not all of it: Rogg has the audacity to complete Bach's incomplete Contrapunctus XVIII. For purists, this will be enough to induce cerebral spasm. For less austere listeners, this will be enough to satisfy a long-standing curiosity. But even that's not all of it. Recorded on the Marcussen organ of St. Nicholas Church, Abenrá, Denmark (the concertos), and the Metzler organ of the Cathedral of St. Peter, Geneva, EMI gives Rogg sound that rivals the thunder of sheer volume and lightning for sheer impact.

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