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This recording of Franck’s complete major organ works claims that US organist David Enlow’s approach is differentiated from earlier ones in its ‘sensitivity to the original expression’ while ‘develop[ing] a fresh musical interpretation … Few shine this material through the lens of the modern expressive pipe organ.’ Surely a dangerous statement from an organist with no experience of French organ culture on his CV? Perhaps some experience of the Cavaillé-Coll aesthetic would have avoided the general piston diminuendo over the held bass F sharp immediately prior to the variation of op.18, or the interjections of the plaster- stripping Trompette Harmonique of the Bombarde division of G. Donald Harrison’s Opus 891a (undeniably wonderful and often quite idiomatic – but no Cavaillé-Coll). Nevertheless, Enlow is an organist of considerable stature and in the larger works where the basic tempo varies little (Prière, Choral 2, Fantaisie en La), his impassioned sense of the inherent drama and the total structure is second to none. It is in the more fragmented pieces where his desire for ‘extra’ expression sends him off-piste, his exaggerated rubato twisting the melody out of shape. This leads to various anomalies: for example, there is no difference between the Andante of the Grand pièce symphonique and the Adagio of the third Choral. Enlow is forced to take a new, quicker tempo after the latter section and when the Flûte Harmonique takes over the melodic material in the second section of the Fantaisie in C (where the basic tempo is likewise too slow). I have nine other recordings of the complete Franck on my shelf and while there is no reason not to make this the tenth, it is too personal an approach for me to want to listen often.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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