Liszt: The Essential Organ Works

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Regent
WORKS: Evocation à la chapelle sixtine; Fantasia and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam; Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H; Ave Maria von Arcadelt etc
PERFORMER: Peter King (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: Regent REGCD278

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‘Essential’ may be stretching it a bit with certain works here, but Peter King’s valuable survey of organ music by Liszt certainly contains some essential pieces. Liszt’s two major organ masterpieces, the Fantasia and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam and the Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, are of course featured, but his other original works for the instrument, of lesser interest, are not included. Instead we get many of Liszt’s own transcriptions for the organ, plus transcriptions by figures ranging from Reger and Saint-Saëns to organist Nicholas Kynaston and King himself.

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King’s freshly conceived Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H is gripping. Occasionally he can be too polite and the opening of Ad nos lacks some atmosphere. Though a more snarling sound from the organ might help, one of the attractions of this recording is the clarity with which the music emerges from the newish (1997) Klais instrument in Bath Abbey. Arranged over three discs, each a self-contained, balanced programme featuring one of the big works and several smaller pieces, this is a fitting tribute to a composer who revolutionised organ composition. John Allison