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This is an obviously home-made release featuring recordings of Roger Fisher, the distinguished emeritus organist of Chester Cathedral, playing the 1870 Cavaillé-Coll in Warrington. The recordings are a mixture of a ‘studio’ session captured in 1984 and a live concert, for an obviously enthusiastic audience, in 2011. The repertoire is standard French romantic and 20th-century fare: Guilmant, Franck (Choral III, Pastorale), Saint-Saëns E flat Fantaisie, Duruflé ‘sur le nom’ et al. Understandably, the recorded sound is better in 2011, but the playing is more consistent and the organ clearly in slightly better shape in 1984. None of this matters a jot, however. The CD has been released by the friends of this extraordinarily important organ to raise awareness of its near-farcical and seemingly endless plight. While rumours continue to circulate on internet forums as to its ultimate destination (Warrington Borough Council having stated their intention to let it go elsewhere already some eight years ago), the bald fact of this, a very substantial concert organ by the 19th century’s greatest organ builder, languishing in such poor condition for so long, shorn of its original mechanism but tonally intact, is hardly indicative of a national organ culture in good health. Buy this CD and support the wonderful people (including Roger Fisher himself) fighting against the odds for its future.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing