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There are so many complete Franck recordings, but this is the first to include all of Franck’s works which were intended for performance on the harmonium as well as, for example, all three versions of the Fantaisie in C. Running to six CDs, this has clearly been a labour of love for Hans-Eberhard Roß, whose playing is immaculate. With such an undertaking, some points of interpretation are always going to be open to question and I find the laborious opening of the Grand pièce symphonique and the somewhat hysterical conclusion of the Final contextually a bit strange. Unlike Roß, one might also question the performance on the organ of works specifically intended for harmonium– the two instruments were quite separate entities and the first edition of L’organiste was even marked ‘pour l’orgue-harmonium’ on the title page and only ‘pour l’orgue ou harmonium’ (perhaps for commercial expediency on the part of the publisher?) on the front cover. The Goll organ in Memmingen evokes Cavaillé-Coll’s soundworld brilliantly, but was it really the most imaginative choice for the set? While it is important to ask these questions, this remains a notable achievement, whatever your conclusions.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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