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This, remarkably, is the first complete recording of the organ works of Guy Weitz and I’m happy to report that it represents an outstandingly fine endeavour by all concerned. Guy Weitz belongs to that group of 19th- and early 20th-century Belgians who spent the important part of their careers in England. A former Guilmant pupil and collaborator with Widor, he followed in Lemmens’s footsteps as organist of Farm Street Church in London, where his few pupils (limited by his utterly impossible personality) included Nicholas Danby. Twenty-five years after Paul Derrett’s fabulous disc for Priory alerted a broader public to this astounding repertoire, Antwerp Cathedral titulaire Paul van der Velde divides the early, Franckian works from the later repertoire, often feeling like mildly unhinged Vierne. The former is recorded on the giant 1890 Schyven at the Cathedral, and one hopes that its immense (but polite) grandeur survives its present restoration, and slight remodelling. The later repertoire is recorded on a currently unfashionable example of post-romantic Flemish organ building: the 1935 Pels organ in Antwerp’s Laurentiuskerk. Unquestionably industrial, but bathing in massive acoustics, this choice is brave indeed, matching the music’s stylistic bent but nonetheless sounding quite rough around the edges. And what volcanic and virtuosic music this is! The highlight is surely the pair of symphonies, the first saturated with plainsong, its lesser-known 35-minute partner featuring a huge sonata-form first movement, an emotionally wrought passacaglia and a zany and virtuosic scherzo. Included as a bonus are some well-known works by Weitz’s better-known Liège contemporary Joseph Jongen. Van der Velde is a compelling advocate for the music and Aeolus’s presentation, packed with gorgeous photography, is beyond reproach.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing