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Ethelbert Nevin
La Folia, July 2015

As powerful a dose of Soviet melancholy as you can imagine, expressed in two five-movement works, in tight and lean performances. © 2015 La Folia

Stephen Pettitt
The Sunday Times, London, April 2000

Naxos’s Organ Encyclopedia series marches gloriously on with this first volume devoted to Johann Pachelbel’s works for the instrument. Pachelbel was no one-tune composer; nor was his work merely a dry run for Bach. Here, Wolfgang Rubsam plays a well-varied selection of fantasias, toccatas, ricercares, chorale preludes and ciaconas. The choral preludes-five examples-are remarkably highly developed pieces; the toccatas imposing, florid declamations over resounding pedal notes. But for me the highlights are the two ciaconas, both in D minor, real gems that bring out the best of this composer’s fertile imagination. Rubsam plays beautifully, varying his registrations carefully, giving the music the space it demands. Buffs will like to know that the organ is that at Weissenan, built by Johann Nepomuk Holzhey between 1785 and 1787. It sounds magnificent. © The Sunday Times, London

Jed Distler

Wolfgang Rübsam, one of the finest, busiest, and most prolifically recorded organists on Planet Earth, launches the first volume of a cycle devoted to the complete organ works of Pachelbel. The first impression you’ll get from placing this disc in your trusty CD changer will be the pungency of the bright, reedy stops characterizing the organ by Johann Nepomuk Holzhey at Wiessnau (built in the 1780s). Naxos’ transparent, up-close engineering further underscores the instrument’s timbral distinctions. Listen, for example, to the registral clarity in the three Christmas Chorale Preludes, the brooding G minor Fantasia (what heartbreakingly gorgeous low-register harmonies!), or the flowing, reflective Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist. The two Toccatas in C major boast snarling pedal-points from which vivid, trumpet-like lines proudly take wing. Rübsam’s slight ritards and breath marks throughout the D minor Chaconne, together with his strikingly varied couplings, add welcome drama and color to the score. Some listeners might prefer the steadier rhythm and restrained registration of Joseph Payne’s more conservative reading on Centaur, but I lean toward Rübsam.

Artistically speaking, Rübsam and Payne complement rather than compete with each other. Even if you’ve acquired all or many or some of the Payne volumes, give Rübsam’s Pachelbel a fair shot. What can you lose at Naxos’ rock bottom price? Stay tuned for Volume 2. © Read complete review

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