George Ritchie
Review - Vol. III
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Organ Works Complete
Vol. 1
Vol. II
Vol. IV
Vol. V
Vol. VI
Review of J. S. Bach Organ Works, Vol. III: For Music Lovers and Connoisseurs
The Organ, Vol 77, No 304

"This disc is the antithesis of the numerous recordings of Bach where dazzling tempi and quirky registrations - Bourdon 8 and Tierce 4/5 for example - which tinkle merrily are thought to convey the great essence of the baroque. To me these are far off the mark and makes this disc a welcome change. The organ by Brombaugh of 1986 with its four manuals and 108 ranks is built in the historical style, and as well as looking sumptuous it sounds absolutely superb, with the icing on the cake being the unobtrusive rattle of the action and the flexible - not wobbily - wind.

"George Ritchie plays with great maturity and his interpretation of the complete Clavierubung Part III is sensitive and enlightening. From the majestic Preludes and Fugues which open and close the work respectively through the large and small Chorale Preludes to the diminutive duetti every piece receives the same scholarly attention from Ritchie. The ornamentation and phrasing is perfect, and even in the most complex pieces he manages to make the Chorale melodies sing out from the interweaving accompaniment. The six Schübler Chorales are given a similar treatment, and the sixth Trio Sonata is dispatched with ease. The programme is brought to a fitting close by the Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BMV 546, displaying the full might of the instrument.

"This is certainly the finest Bach performance I have heard in a long while and it will be taking pride of place on my shelves. This is Volume III of a yet to be finished complete set and once the remaining volumes are released I know that all other discs of Bach in my collection will be obsolete. If you need further convincing, the programme notes are excellent, full registration details are given, and it is two discs of the price of one. What more need I say?"

Simon FitzGerald
The American Organist, January, 2006
J.S. BACH ORGAN WORKS, Vol. III. George Ritchie, organist. Raven OAR-400 (2 CDs), from the Organ Historical society). [Clavierübung III, BWV 552, 669-689, 802-805; Schübler Chorales, BWV 645-650; Trio Sonata 6, BWV 530; Prelude and Fugue in c, BWV 546.]
Subtitled “For Music Lovers and Connoisseurs,” after Bach’s title page to Clavierübung III, this collection is performed on the Anton Heiller Memorial Organ at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tenn. (IV/108 Brombaugh, 1986). The playing has the same fine traits that Dr. Ritchie’s other Bach recordings exhibit: rhythmic intensity, architectural line, elegant phrasing and articulation, and appropriate registrations ranging from bold and forceful to restrained and quiet. Every piece in this set is a masterwork, but some stand out, such as the Prelude and Fugue, both sets of Kyries, the big Vater unser, and the big Jesus Christus, unser Heiland. In addition to the complete Clavierübung III, other notable works from Bach’s later years are included, notable among them being the last Trio Sonata. The organ is a sonic tour de force, with complete principal choruses (based on 16/ or 8/ for the manuals and 32/ for the pedal), beautiful flutes, and colorful reeds. The program booklet has excellent notes on all the pieces by George Stauffer, the organ specification, and the registrations employed.
Arthur Lawrence, AAGO
The Artist