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Naxos presents the first of four CDs traversing the complete chorale preludes of Helmut Walcha. Imbued with a rugged, yet lyrical, neo-classicism, the first 25 preludes heard here were published in 1954. Wolfgang Rübsam is a former pupil of Walcha, although the ubiquitous rhythmic quirkiness of his playing ensures that a highly personal slant on the music is omnipresent. Nevertheless, this CD is primarily characterised by a compelling symbiosis of player, music and organ. The organ steals the show; one of John Brombaugh’s last instruments and one of the final essays in the ‘heavy lead’ style he created is a masterpiece and is thankfully housed in resonant acoustics. Walcha’s music allows Rübsam to explore every colour, and a more beautiful and convincing modern organ is scarcely imaginable. A fine introduction to the music of one the 20th century’s most influential organists but, equally, a fitting tribute to the genius of one its greatest organ builders.

CHRISS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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