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It’s a privilege to be able to review another CD by the brilliant young Frenchman Thomas Ospital, so soon after his Liszt triumph for Hortus. Here, we hear him at his other ‘desk’, the new Grenzing organ of the concert hall of Radio France. Inevitably comparisons will be drawn between this organ and its contemporary, the Rieger at the Philharmonie. The Grenzing seems perhaps a little more vocal, even languid, against the shiny modernism of the Rieger sound. Once again, Ospital’s playing is profoundly musical, his Bach playing considered and lyrical. Perhaps only the last movement of the second Trio Sonata might have benefited from a slightly more relaxed tempo and a re-thought registration, the left-hand reed struggling to speak (was this played from the electric console, I wonder?). The Grenzing also flirts with some of the ideas of the ‘hyper-organ’, most especially in the ‘vent variable’ device, used to great colouristic effect in Ospital’s short improvised Visions. Thierry’s Escaich’s Six Études-Chorals were written for one of the most high-profile hyper-organs to date: Ansgar Wallenhorst’s instrument at Ratingen. There are fewer surprises here, though: Escaich’s ethereal suggestions of Lutheran chorals, violent cross-rhythms and Stravinsky-like repeated chords are by now quite familiar – which isn’t to say this first recording is any less than captivating.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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