horizontal line

Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952) is a highly respected former pupil of Stockhausen. His organ works are performed here by Dominic Susteck on the large Willi Peter organ in the Jesuit Church of Sankt Peter in Cologne. The instrument, designed by its former organist Peter Bares, was influenced by Ligeti’s desire for the organ’s ‘significant expansion of colour resources’. With over 100 stops oper- ated by tiny multi-coloured buttons, featuring a variety of actions, windchest types and such novelties as a wind throttle, a chorus of free reeds from 64ft to 8ft, all manner of mutations, and a variety of percussion instruments all with sustain, accelerando and ritardando devices, this is a ‘visionary’ organ ‘free from style and historic tradition’.

You will either love this recording or hate it. Although undoubtedly well played and produced, for me both music and organ speak of a noisy, dated and inward-looking modernism. Peter Bares’s assertion in the liner notes that ‘in the most vital and creative periods of organ building, the instruments were always built according to the sound concepts of the composers’ is misleading. Does this organ really have the extraordinary contemporary significance its creators attribute to it, or is Bares’s vision no more than a slightly eccentric side-show?

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


   Read full review   


To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.



Read more classical music reviews online here:



Choir & Organ, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing