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A complete disc of Beethoven played on the organ is an interesting concept, and Maria Magdalena Kaczor plays with style and flair and a suitably whimsical feel for registration. The II/30 organ, chosen for its similarity to König’s 1748 instrument at the Minoritenkloster in Bonn on which Beethoven deputised as a boy, was built by Ferdinand Stieffell in 1786 for the castle chapel of Karlsruhe. No longer in its original physical state, with the Unterwerk rehoused in a Rückpositiv case since the 1970s, it sounds more like a very good reconstruction than an outstandingly preserved old organ. It is a fine instrument nonetheless, and the variety of rococo 8ftcolour, including the wonderful Flöte Travers and (undulating) Piffara, makes it an intriguing match for the music. Only in the first of the two preludes in all major keys, with its dramatic crescendo, is there any suggestion of nascent romanticism. And therein lies my slight reservation about this release: the entire disc consists, more or less, of miniatures, whether originally intended for mechanical clock, piano, or string trio. Resourceful, creative and enjoyable certainly, but these organ perspectives hardly break new ground in marrying Beethoven, the arch-innovator of sometimes vast canvasses, with the often monumental organs which survive from his era.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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