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Jed Distler, June 2001

"A distant relative and contemporary of J.S. Bach, Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748) is well known in musicological circles for the excellent manuscript copies he made of works by Bach, Buxtehude, and other important figures in the development of organ music. His own compositions are largely based on Lutheran chorales, while his Preludes and Fugues reveal varied influences. The spirited little F major fugue, for instance, could have stemmed from Pachelbel's feather-pen, while the looser-knit D minor Preludio con fuga pays tribute to the North German school.

"Like Bach, Walther arranged a handful of instrumental concertos for organ. The two Albinoni concerto transcriptions opening this disc, though, are not as musically interesting as the Gregori, Telemann, Gentilli, and Meck concertos also offered here. I suspect that Craig Cramer shares my sentiments, for he imbues these works with his perkiest fingerwork and most variegated registrations. For me, the large-scale Partita based on Jesu meine Freude is the most cohesive, sustained, and harmonically engaging work in this first volume of Naxos' survey of Walther's complete organ output. It receives a bracing, colorful, and forward-moving a performance to match. The engineering stresses clarity over ambience, all to the advantage of the St. Bonifacius Organ in Tröchtelborn and, of course, to Cramer's lucid artistry. Recommended."

Francis Knights
International Record Review, June 2000

"The juggernaut that is Naxos's 'Organ Encyclopedia' rolls ever onwards towards its goal of some 200 or so discs, reaching here the music of Bach's close friend Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748). Walther is best known for having arranged numerous Italian concertos for the organ (13 of 78 survive), but he is also historically important as a composer, copyist, theorist and writer (the remarkable Musicalisches Lexicon of 1732 is the first German music dictionary). His hundreds of organ chorales and variations are worthy to stand alongside those of the best of his contemporaries, and he and Bach likely influenced each other in their concerto arrangements.The first volume of this series, played by the American organist Craig Cramer, includes six of these concertos (based on originals by Albinoni, Gentili, Gregori, Meck and Telemann), an extended chorale partita and five shorter works. ...Craig Cramer understands this repertoire and this organ [the 1767 Franciscus Volkland organ of St Bonifacius in Trochtelborn]) exceedingly well, and his nimble ornamentation, crisp articulation and imaginative registration are a pleasure to listen to. ...Wolfgang Rubsam's engineering cleanly captures the attractively varied tones of the organ-bells and all-within St Bonifacius' modest acoustic. ...Cramer's own booklet notes are brief but to the point, and the full organ specification is listed. At this price, no one interested in organs or the music of Bach's contemporaries need hesitate for a moment."

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2:03:25 PM, 25 May 2016
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