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The St Michaeliskirche in Hamburg houses an interesting collection of organs. This CD charts the history of the west end organ, opening with a pair of historic recordings: Alfred Sittard playing Handel and improvising on the giant (and clearly wonderful) 1912 Oscar Walcker instrument, dismantled during the second world war. The 5-manual 1962 Steinmeyer which replaced the Walcker features next on the disc, in modern performances of music by Bach and Reger. The programme concludes, curiously, with two consecutive Bach plenum fugues and two performances of Liszt’s Weinen, Klagen variations by Christoph Schoener, each recorded before and after the recent renovation by Freiburger Orgelbau. This recent work has included the addition of a new Fernwerk (by Klais), as well as a new mechanical action and some revoicing. The result is an organ undoubtedly warmer and better balanced but (regrettably?) lacking some of the characteristic ‘fizz’ of its previous incarnation. This is an interesting document and the playing is uniformly excellent. Unfortunately, the extensive and well-illustrated booklet is in German only.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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