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Whereas these performances were recorded in 2014 and 2015 in Washington D.C., the sounds of the Dutch organs were recorded in 2007 and 2010, with each note of each rank of pipes recorded into the Hauptwerk programme, then fed into a suitable organ console for recording purposes. The technology is amazing, ‘allowing the most intricate counterpoint to be distinctly heard in ways that often surpass that which is experienced through the traditional recording method’, so the liner notes maintain. Todd Fickley’s modern gadget-ridden console is photographed, so it is obvious that he is playing on something very different and much less challenging than the original Schnitger in Zwolle. We all want to hear a master playing Bach on the real historical organ in the authentic building, and whereas Fickley’s interpretations are well-schooled, if rather pedantic in places, the sounds are ‘voiced specifically to the recording listener’s perspective’. There is something synthetic and predictable about the result. Presumably the keyboard touch on the Hauptwerk-fed console bears little relation to the real organs. The next stage might be to dispense with the player completely and create your own ‘ultimate’ performance straight from the computer...

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