Barbara Harbach's performances on this release are brimming with musicality and excitement, underlined by thorough scholarly preparation, distinguished by flawless technique - a combination that is hard to beat! Her rhythmic vitality and rock-solid control of tempo are extraordinary. While I do not care for her choice of organ registrations in every piece, particularly the trio movements, they are obviously the result of careful thought.
The organ in the Downtown Presbyterian Church of Rochester NY is by one of our leading American builders, CB Fisk of Gloucester, and dates from 1983. It is rather disappointing in most respects and is the kind of instrument one can tire of rapidly. The mixtures display a peculiar aversion to blend and the flutes and principal stops sound remarkably uninteresting. This may be partly attributable to the recording, which is not entirely satisfying.
The liner notes are very well prepared and written though not without one unfortunate discrepancy concerning the chorale "An Wasserflüssen Babylon." The setting listed and discussed is the one from Bach's 18 Leipzig Chorales, with the chorale melody in the tenor, (S 653). The one actually played here by Miss Harbach (and memorably, too) is S 653b with the melody in the soprano, in five voices, with double pedal - a more interesting and beautiful piece than the version listed! Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to recommend this cassette highly for Miss Harbach's stellar and valuable performances. On the basis of this recording, at least, she deserves to be recognized as one of the eminent Bach players among organists of the present day, in both the United States and in Europe.