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Bachs Königin

Holland Baroque

Original Recording Format: DSD 256
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Holland Baroque presents Bachs Königin, an album full of masterful organ works by J.S. Bach, transcribed for the orchestra by Judith and Tineke Steenbrink. These creative interpretations add unique colours and a fresh spirit to baroque monuments. Here is yet another chance to enjoy Bach’s genius.

Holland Baroque is an original and innovative baroque orchestra that approaches baroque repertoire through a fresh and contemporary approach, with a focus on improvisation and collaborations with outstanding artists from different traditions. Bachs Königin is their fifth Pentatone album, after having released Minne (2022) Brabant 1653Polonoise (both 2021) and Silk Baroque (2019) with the label.

My sister Tineke and I have always worked together, through playing music but also in preparing programs, choosing pieces and preparing the musical material for the players. We send our arrangements back and forth until we both think it’s good. It’s a game for us and at the same time a very serious matter to respect the old rules of composition at all times. As an organist and harpsichordist, Tineke is more at home with organ repertoire, but I also have many childhood memories of these pieces. As children, we heard many organ concerts. The organist of the monastery where we spent a lot of time played these works. For example, on religious holidays the first part of BWV 592 always was played after Mass. It was a tradition. Everyone always hummed along.”

– Judith Steenbrink

It was an exciting experience to see how it would sound if the players of Holland Baroque were to breathe life into the notes. Our goal was for the transcriptions to be as playable and sound as natural as possible.

– Tineke Steenbrink

It was interesting to see that the ten fingers and two feet of Bach as an organist can still leave space for the addition of more voices. I didn’t expect that. What also was a discovery for me was the use of the double bass as a symbol of the often imposing, low notes of the organ pedal. When Bach uses these low notes as an ‘organ point’ it sounds impressive, even overwhelming. In baroque repertoire, it is common for the contrabassist to simplify his part. It gives more clarity to the structure of the composition. By differentiating the double bass and cello parts in our arrangements, we were able to mimic the effect of the low pedal notes of the organ.

– Judith Steenbrink

“We had to make choices about which pieces to use from the large organ repertoire of Bach. We have chosen pieces and left others behind. For example, the famous Toccata & Fugue (BWV 565) is still on the shelf. I did start working on it, but I got stuck after some time. At a certain point, I couldn’t get past the bombastic side of the piece anymore. Maybe I will manage next time. There is so much material still. The most important thing is that we show the many sides of Bach. Also that new orchestral material has been created. An addition to help us dive into even more of Bach.

– Judith & Tineke Steenbrink



Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Organ Sonata No. 5 in C Major, BWV 529 "Trio" (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): I.
Organ Sonata No. 5 in C Major, BWV 529 "Trio" (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): II.
Organ Sonata No. 5 in C Major, BWV 529 "Trio" (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): III
Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 648 (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble)
Organ Sonata No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 526 "Trio" (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensem
Organ Sonata No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 526 "Trio" (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensem
Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592 (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): I. Alleg
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): II. Adagio
Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592 (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): III. Pre
Das Orgel-Büchlein (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): No. 19, Herr Gott, nun s
Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV 582 (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble)
Fantasia & Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542 "The Great" (Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble):
Das Orgel-Büchlein (Excerpts Arr. J. & T. Steenbrink for Chamber Ensemble): No. 17, In dir ist Freud

Total time: 00:55:04

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Original Recording Format

Release DateJanuary 31, 2023

Press reviews

NativeDSD Blog | HRAudio

(…) It is argued that Bach’s best compositions are those written for the “Queen of all Instruments”, the organ. We may or may not agree, but the fact remains that the selection as presented here by Holland Baroque is by all means a feast for the ear, the brain, and the soul. Not least because all arrangements are ‘homemade’ by Judith & Tineke Steenbrink, playing the first violin and the organ respectively.

Their notion of each musician’s possibilities is a clear advantage for achieving a first-rate execution of personalized musical adaptation of the original. In other words: For Bach the organ may have been the Königin for his most inventive output, for us, the audience, the sisters Steenbrink are by all means the Queens of all instruments. (…)

Positive Feedback

Bach’s Königin is comprised of selected organ music compositions by J.S. Bach transcribed (with some good success) for chamber ensemble. It is all nicely played and well recorded. If you like Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas, this will likely appeal to you as it does to me.

Bach’s most beautiful works are perhaps those that he wrote for the organ, as it was his favorite instrument. Over time, many people have found opportunity to make arrangements of these works for other instruments–the transposition often works very nicely. Here, Holland Baroque passes these masterpieces on to the orchestra.

Holland Baroque members Judith and Tineke Steenbrink created the transcription. Their choices result in innovative works that sound as right and natural as I might imagine, retaining Bach’s clear signature in the music…

The performances, as are typical of the Holland Baroque, are alert and flexible with excellent ensemble and choice of instrumentation. They play on period instruments applying historically informed performance practice. Instruments are varied, the performers skilled, and they breathe life into every phrase… [The sound offers the] wonderfully unique timbre and sonorities that period instruments deliver. And when performed with such joy and enthusiasm, the result is simply delightful. Not to be missed!

The Polyhymnia International B.V. recording team delivers a sonic landscape of excellent detail, breadths and air. This recording matches what I’ve come to expect of this group–excellent craftsmanship, attention to the natural acoustic environment of the venue, and capture of a recording that allows the musicians a similitude of life.


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