Is there a complete set of Bach’s organ music which I prefer, ignoring price differentials for the moment? I think not. Can any other complete or reasonably complete set match the Nimbus mp3 set for value? Nothing approaches it, even as a download, though you may wish to supplement it with some of the recordings which I have mentioned above. Even if you decide to supplement these readings, or already have several recordings of Bach’s organ music in your collection, this is an absolutely essential purchase. It’s not only my Bargain of the Month, it’s almost certain to be my Bargain of the Year, too. Now try Kevin Bowyer’s equally revelatory recordings of Alkan’s organ music on Nimbus (NI5089).
Brian Wilson, Musicweb-international.com
Following the success of Nimbus' re-release of their set of Haydn symphonies, conducted by Adam Fischer on MP3 CDs, Nimbus now comes up with another bargain in this format. This 8-CD set of Kevin Bowyer's recordings of Bach's organ works covers nearly 31 hours of music, and is presented in 320 kbps MP3 files. (For those who are interested, the files are encoded with LAME 3.97, using - preset insane). In our review of the Haydn symphonies, reviewer Dominy Clements compared some of the original CDs and the MP3 files, and concluded, "To be entirely honest, I couldn’t really spot any advantages or disadvantages in either in terms of absolute quality." I will echo his comments, having compared the MP3 files of this set to a few of the original Nimbus CDs. Not only do these MP3 files sound excellent, but very few people could reliably spot which files were which in a blind test.
It’s worth noting that Bowyer’s set, at nearly 31 hours, is close to twice as long as most of the other “complete” sets of Bach’s organ works. This is because he plays a number of spurious and mis-attributed works, as well as some works that are generally not played on organ, such as the Toccatas BWV 910-916. So what about the performances? They are generally considered to be one of the finer series of Bach's organ works. I have a number of sets of Bach's organ works, and this one stands out by virtue of the fact that all the music was recorded on a single organ (Sct. Hans Kirke, Odense, Denmark). Many, if not most, other sets are recorded at a variety of locations. Here, the organ itself is beautiful, and the recording is spacious but without too much reverberation. Bowyer's choice of registrations, tempi and phrasing are attractive throughout. You seriously couldn't go wrong with this set, at a price below that of two audio CDs.
Kirk McElhearn, Musicweb-international.com