Liszt: Prelude & Fugue on B-A-C-H; Évocation à la Chapelle Sixtine; Three Consolations; Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen; Legende: St François d’Assise; La prédication aux oiseaux

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Prelude & Fugue on B-A-C-H; Évocation à la Chapelle Sixtine; Three Consolations; Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen; Legende: St François d’Assise; La prédication aux oiseaux
PERFORMER: Andreas Rothkopf (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554544
The three major works on this CD used to be available on a Decca disc recorded by Thomas Trotter on the organ of Merseburg Cathedral, coupled with Liszt’s most monumental organ work, the Fantasia and Fugue on ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’, which had its first performance at the inauguration of the Merseburg organ. It ought to be reissued, because it collects the essential part of Liszt’s organ output in brilliant performances on an instrument the composer knew and which has been little changed. Budget-priced Naxos can afford to be more comprehensive and spread Liszt’s organ music over two discs, and indeed, it’s good to have St Francis preaching to the birds, which works so well on the instrument, as well as the three Consolations, originally for piano. Liszt wasn’t an organist himself, and although he heard the new orchestrally conceived instruments of Cavaillé-Coll, he was content with a plainer palette and a more traditional organ for his own music. The instrument on this Naxos disc is the large, restored late 19th-century Sauer organ in St Peter’s, Bremen. It serves Liszt’s music perfectly well, though I find it lacks allure; it is certainly heavier than the Merseburg organ, and its very size dictates comparatively spacious tempi, though nothing here seems too slow. After all, Liszt was rarely concerned to be concise. For the moment, if you want the B-A-C-H Prelude and Fugue, the Évocation and Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, Naxos will do nicely. Adrian Jack

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