J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

The Italian Connection

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Christopher Herrick
Individual Works:Concerto in C, BWV 594
Concerto in A minor, BWV 593
Concerto in D minor, BWV 596
Concerto in G, BWV 592
Concerto mvt. in C, BWV 595
'Corelli' Fugue, BWV 579
'Legrenzi' Fugue, BWV 574
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Hyperion
Catalog Number:CDA66813
Year Released/Recorded:1994
Total Playing Time:65'49"
Comments:Todd M. Billeci said:

Herrick sensitively plays a modern 34-stop Metzler. Tone can be forgettable & registrations unremarkable, unfortunately repeating ad nauseum. I'm uncertain if this is due to the recording engineering or the instrument itself. This is especially unflattering to the concerti.

Herrick makes a 5-course meal of every phrase & tempi can be slow, with much legato articulation. Concerti tempi drag where other versions (e.g., Kevin Bowyer's) spring forward. Herrick's Legrenzi & Corelli fugues are more rewarding. He differs from Alain & Isoir, who are slower & more introspective. In contrast to Herrick, Peter Hurford's reading is well-sprung (~30 secs. shorter) w/ interesting registration. Thus, Herrick's readings hardly tower over the competition & IMHO there's little that's compelling here. The Penguin Guide gave this CD **(*) stars & described it as "a disappointment." I agree.

Eugene Herron said:

I have heard some of these works done by Marie Clair Alain. In contrast to her interpretation these works are more austere and subdued. The interpretation by Mr. Herrick is darker and more pensive, more like a winter's day in a Church than an evening in a concert hall.

I personally liked how Mr. Herrick's treatment gave these works a more intimate and friendly sound. In some ways such intimacy is better than the monumental and aloof character that interpreters sometimes inflict on Mr. Bach's handiworks.

Jordan Sayers said:

Christopher Herrick's "The Italian Connectin" is another sublime recording by my favorite contemporary organist. What sets this apart from other recordings of these transcriptions is the sound quality: Hyperion has teamed Herrick's musicianship with Paul Niederberger's sound engineering (a great partnership). Both "The Organists Review" and "Classic CD" have given this disc high marks and I agree. Herrick's tempo is slightly slower than other recordings, allowing one to savor the twists and turns.
I was surprised to read the prior reviewer reporting he felt this disc was "dissapointing" (quoting the Penguin Guide). One need only look to what the octagenarians at Penguin find praiseworthy: it speaks volumes for their credibility as critics.
I wouldn't hesitate to give my highest recommendation for this, or any other, Herrick disc. I can only hope that he continues with his partnership with Hyperion and Neiderberger, as I look forward to every release.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Todd M. Billeci
  • Eugene Herron
  • Jordan Sayers
Date First Submitted:08/15/1998