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JS Bach • Liszt • Widor: Organ Works

Jae-Hyuck Cho (organ) (Evidence)

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

JS Bach  Liszt  Widor
JS Bach: Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565; T Kim: Pahdo; Liszt: Fantasy & Fugue on the theme BACH; Fantasy & Fugue on the the Choral ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’; Widor: Bach’s Memento No. 5 – Sicilienne; Organ Symphony No. 5 – Toccata
Jae-Hyuck Cho (organ)
Evidence EVCD058   72:27 mins

It may have been built as a temple to Napoleonic glory, but the Madeleine Church in Paris has had a remarkable musical history – having witnessed such events as Chopin’s funeral and the tenure of organists including Saint-Saëns and Fauré. You might expect anyone recording a recital on its great Cavaillé-Coll organ to show some awareness of this, but nothing is disclosed in the brief ‘The Organ: My Story’ that replaces any programme note in this new release. Nor is there much shape to the mélange of (mostly) recital staples played by the Korean organist Jae-Hyuck Cho, who begins – where else? – with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, treating it to an old-fashioned performance in which rhythmic instability makes the Fugue sound rushed.

Widor inevitably means the ubiquitous Toccata, given an over-enthusiastic workout; unusually, it also means one of the movements from his seldom-heard Bach’s Memento (No. 5, the Sicilienne). Liszt, no less predictably, means the Fantasy and Fugue on BACH, where the turbulence turns muddy, and although Cho does show a temperamental affinity for the composer in the Fantasy and Fugue on ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’ his accomplished and virtuosic playing still doesn’t put this version near many other accounts of the work.

The recording at least introduces a specially-commissioned piece, Pahdo, in which the composer Texu Kim makes good use of the Madeleine instrument to produce beautiful washes of sound and incorporates traditional Korean melodies to evoke the ‘ocean wave’ of its title.

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John Allison