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Bach: The Leipzig Chorales

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About this title: The chorale preludes for organ collected on this CD were among Bach's final compositions. Stradivarius has prefaced each prelude, or group of preludes, with the composer's choral harmonization of the tune on which the prelude is based. Concentus Vocalis, conducted by P. Urban Stillhardt, sings the chorales with elegance and purity. Organist Claudio Astronio, playing an instrument built in 2002 by Léon Verschuren, gives each of the chorale preludes a distinctive character. His playing is supple and fluid, giving the music plenty of time to breathe and unfold. The listener is very much aware of the organ's physicality -- the rush of air moving through the pipes, the sound of the instrument's mechanics -- and for anyone easily annoyed by those peripheral sounds, this album would not be ideal. Astronio, however, embraces the sounds as part of the real experience of the music, and they do indeed give the recording an immediacy and have a nearly tactile effect. Astronio's nuanced playing, the strong...

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