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This would seem to be the first recording of the ‘48’ entirely on organ – the majority of available recordings are piano or harpsichord, a few using clavichord, and one by Robert Levin using clavi- chord, harpsichord and organ. As Daniele Boccaccio says, the word Klavier is not type specific, and can mean any keyboard instrument. He also makes the point that by using the organ the long sustaining notes in many of these works are heard right through, something which can be heard in the majestic first Prelude of Book 2, where – as in a number of works – the pedal is used. The sustaining nature of the organ sound also underlines dissonance in a way that is not possible on a harpsichord or piano, and is a vital aspect of this music.

The lovely Zanin organ tuned in Werckmeister III gives a strong sense of key colour – much more so with organ than the same tuning would achieve on harpsichord. This is evident in a number of the more extreme keys, and the chromatic subject of the F minor Fugue from Book 1 is a good example of how the tuning can increase the dramatic impact of the music. Boccaccio uses the many colours of this organ judiciously, from the delicious flutes and Quintadena in the first Prelude of Book 1, to the sparkling vivacity of the G major Prelude, and reed registrations as in the C sharp minor Fugue, also from Book 1. Of those using various plenum registrations, the Prelude in D major from Book 2 – one of the longest in the set – is particularly impressive.

Altogether this is a splendid recording by a fine artist, with good notes on the music by Boccaccio, and details of the organ, though no registrations are listed. Definitely worth having, whatever other recordings of the ‘48’ might already be on the shelf!

DOUGLAS HOLLICK Read the full review on Agora Classica

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