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Aeolus present an elegant survey of the complete works of the prolific Joseph Guy Ropartz, a native of Brittany, organ pupil of Franck and, interestingly, a composition pupil of Massenet. The Introduction and Allegro Moderato which opens the first disc is also his best-known organ work, and Speyer Cathedral organist Markus Eichenlaub immediately grabs the listener’s attention with his commanding and lucid playing. Despite some charming miniatures, however (the Thème varié on CD 2, for instance), the music generally drips with chromatic melancholy. This is nowhere more so than in the Trois méditations of 1917, in which a Vierne-like sense of tragedy in the midst of the Great War hangs heavy in the air. The jollity of much of the Sortie in B flat is so exceptional that one can appreciate why Ropartz’s works became rather neglected. The combination of Eichenlaub’s sensitive and empathetic playing with the last major Cavaillé-Coll organ to be completed before Charles Mutin took over the management (an inspired choice of instrument) means this survey is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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