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Hans Helmut Tillmanns (Organ)

Hans Helmut Tillmanns on Danacord - Part 4


Dietrich Buxtehude and his pupils

Dietrich Buxtehude:
Ciacona in C minor
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin
Praeludium in A minor
J.S. Bach:
Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat major BWV 525 [3:33, 8:14, 4:04]
Chorale Prelude Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 600 [1:01]
Chorale Prelude Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ (I), BWV 604 [1:14]
Chorale Prelude Das alte Jahr vergangen ist (I), BWV 614 [4:25]
Chorale Prelude Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (I), BWV 639 [2:23]
Chorale Prelude Wo soll ich fliehen hin (I), BWV 646 [1:48]
Nicolaus Bruhns:
Praeludium in E minor, No. 2

Hans Helmut Tillmanns (Organ) [Christensen Organs]

Danacord 477

Jun 1997

CD / TT: 58:15

Recorded at Nibe, Denmark (1995) [Buxtehude]; Hobro, Denmark (1994) [Bach/Bruhns].
Buy this album at:

Donald Satz wrote (December 30, 2001):
Sumary Rating: B

I have already reviewed three discs from Hans Helmut Tillmanns, and the results have been mixed. Tillmanns has a strong penchant for legato readings which does not line up well with organ works needing strong articulation and sharpness. Therefore, the type of music of Tillmanns programs attains prime importance.

For the current disc under review, Tillmanns selects Bach chorale preludes which are just right for his legato approach; these performances are easily the best on the disc. The other works, although well done, do not play into his strengths and are improved on through many other recorded versions. Overall, the disc is quite enjoyable but definitely not an essential purchase.

Some specifics are as follows:

Bach Trio Sonata in E flat major, BWV 525 - Tillmanns performs very well in each movement but never scales the heights. He captures the bounce and exuberance of the first movement but yields to folks like Kevin Bowyer who are quicker and more exuberant. The excitement Bowyer generates in the third movement is also greater than with Tillmanns. In the second movement, Tillmanns is quite slow in the eight-minute range; although effective, he's no match for the equally slow paced Werner Jacobs who is more poignant and uses delicious registrations.

I must sound like I'm knocking Tillmann's BWV 525; it's just that the 'last ounce' is never achieved. On the other hand, each movement is rewarding and plenty of alternative versions can't make that claim.

Bruhns Prelude & Fugue in E minor (the larger) - I just happen to have a sensational interpretation from William Porter on Loft Recordings. Porter performs on an historic organ from Denmark which mixes sweetness, elegance, color, and power into an exceptional package. Porter has command of the instrument and imbues each section of the work with its unique flavor. This is where Tillmanns comes up short; his registrations are less diverse, and the special character of each section doesn't come through. Tillmanns also uses a very smooth legato, and it makes for a less interesting

However, Tillmanns more than equals Porter in the majestic beginning of the Prelude. Porter is massive, while Tillmanns is sinister with a clarity that's very unusual for him. This beginning is magic in Tillmann's hands. Unfortunately, the remainder of the performance is earth-bound.

Bach Chorales - Tillmanns is excellent in these pieces. He has selected chorales which are very well suited to his smoothly legato nature. He's best in BWV 600 with his exceptionally swirling upper voices and in BWV 604 where he rivals Simon Preston's nobility and beauty. In the Schubler Chorale BWV 646, Tillmanns well captures the fleeing of the sinners to God. Overall, this is Tillmanns at his best and so much better than on another Danacord cd where his selection of Bach chorales went against his grain.

Buxtehude Pieces - Although Tillmanns performs these three works very well and with a high degree of lyricism, his strongly legato counterpoint is contrary to the requirements of articulation that are so important in Buxtehude's organ music. This deficiency is most pronounced in the Ciacona which thrives on a pronounced articulation of voices; Tillmanns uses far too much legato and blurrs the distinctions among the voices. To put it mildly, Tillmanns and Buxtehude are not a great match.

Don's Conclusions: Any Baroque organ enthusiast who craves power and angularity will likely be disappointed in this Tillmanns disc. His programmed organ selections are excellent concerning the Bach chorale preludes, but the remainder of the program provides little in the way of distinction. Also, the Tillmanns registrations are nothing to write home about and the total music time is on the short end. My overall recommndation is a qualified one.


Hans Helmut Tillmanns: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Hans Helmut Tillmanns on Danacord - Part 1 | Hans Helmut Tillmanns on Danacord - Part 2 | Hans Helmut Tillmanns on Danacord - Part 3 | Hans Helmut Tillmanns on Danacord - Part 4

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Last update: żOctober 2, 2007 ż23:44:57