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The Hungarian Joseph Kelemen provides strong performances of organ works by Hans Leo Hassler, the first organist-composer from north of the Alps to study in Italy. His music displays obvious features of the Gabrielis’ polychoral style and their keyboard toccatas, which the Nuremberg organist would have heard in Venice. These influences are immediately evident in the impressive quarter-hour Introitus IV toni which opens the programme, as well as in the smaller Introitus in D minor; in both, homophonic imitation at the octave, polyphonic sections and more virtuosic keyboard figuration are juxtaposed. Hassler straddled the religious divide as a Protestant working in the Catholic court at Augsburg, and Luther’s chorale Wir glauben all an einen Gott provides the cantus firmus for the Credo of an organ Mass, otherwise based on melodies with their roots, at least, in the Graduale Romanum. The disc is recorded on two magnificent organs from the first half of the 17th century: the famous, if under-recorded, Freundt organ at Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, is contrasted with the single-manual meantone Günzer instrument of 1609 at Gabelbach. Keleman’s playing is straightforward and monumental when required; a little more suppleness of touch and rhythm in the contrapuntal writing in particular might have been welcome.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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