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Volume 5 in Oehms Classics’ series resurrecting recordings originally made on rolls from 1904 to 1932 for Welte Philharmonie’s ‘Britannic’ reproducing organ (built for the Titanic’s sister ship and now housed in the Museum of Music automatons, Seewen) turns its focus to Wagner in his bicentenary year. Sixteen of the 64 available transcriptions from the Britannic’s archive are included on two generously filled discs. Excellent transfers and detailed documentation adds to the fascination of hearing the likes of Clarence Eddy (his luminous ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan und Isolde altogether mesmerising), Edwin H. Lemare (a rousing Meistersinger overture) and Kurt grosse (an intense Götterdämmerung Funeral March) among others and – one for curio seekers – pianist Emil Paur’s sombre take on Lohengrin’s admonition.

Hansjörg Albrecht’s all-Wagner recital Organ Fireworks gets off to a slow-burning start with the overture to Tannhäuser and Parsifal Prelude, catching light with a combustible account of the Flying Dutchman overture and a fiery Tristan Prelude before concluding in the blistering conflagration of the Meistersinger overture. The twin organs of St Nikolai, Kiel – a ii/17 Cavaillé- Coll-Mutin dating from 1921 and a 1965 iii/48 Kleuker – give solid, serious and dark-hued voice to Albrecht’s concentrated playing.

Markedly different in tone is Jonathan Vaughn’s debut solo recording: a collection of Wagner transcriptions by Edwin H. Lemare, the opening Meistersinger overture blazing and bright, Lohengrin’s act iii Prelude and Bridal March ringing out with celebratory gusto, and ‘The ride of the Valkyries’ unabashedly spectacular and virtuosic – all qualities grabbed with obvious relish by Vaughan, who makes much of the sublime Edwardian opulence of the IV/71 Harrison & Harrison in Bristol’s St Mary Redcliffe. Quieter, more sober fare comes in the shape of the keening lilt of Tannhäuser’s Pilgrim’s Chorus, a haunting Tristan Prelude and Liebestod and a louring yet luminous account of Lohengrin’s act i Prelude, with a delightfully mysterious and infectious Magic Fire Music from Die Walküre rounding things off with resounding aplomb.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica


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