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Some years ago I visited the 1970 Ahrend organ at the Cantate Domino Church in the suburbs of Frankfurt, a brutalist box from 1966 surrounded by urban concrete jungle. The church, nevertheless, had occupied a significant place in the Frankfurt church music scene, not least due to its warm acoustics and the best organ money could buy, anywhere, at the time. Both are in evidence in this slightly unlikely recording by recently retired Notre-Dame titulaire Jean-Pierre Leguay. Perhaps more famous for his avant-garde improvisations and compositions, which enjoy a loyal following, his remastered renditions of the Mozart and Beethoven clock pieces, captured when both Cantate Domino and its organ were still newly minted, form an impressive sound document. The Dupré tradition, passed to Leguay via Rolande Falcinelli, is evident in some seamless legato, which when paired with gap registrations seems to capture a transitional moment in French organ history in much the same way as the earliest Bach recordings of Marie-Claire Alain. The virtuosity (double trills aplenty) however, and the sheer presence in Leguay’s playing illustrate well his prominent place in the French organ pantheon. The second disc, a more recently recorded complete Brahms cycle from Rouen, is performed entirely in the spirit of the instrument, reeds and undulants included. Considered through a French symphonic filter, Brahms’s music hardly suffers; how could it when heard on an organ so poetic and in performances so committed and lyrical?

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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