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Here is another CD celebrating Australia’s remarkable collection of 19th-century English organs. The Hill instrument at St Laurence in Sydney dates from around the time of Arthur G. Hill’s accession following Thomas Hill’s death, and was originally built for a private residence. It is a typical three-manual instrument of 26 stops, including an added pedal trombone. Essentially unaltered, the Swell misses its celeste (replaced by a 2ft piccolo), and I fancy that the Swell mixture might have been ‘jazzed-up’ somewhat. Nonetheless, despite some slight battle scars, the organ is clearly a fine example of Hill’s work of the period, the reeds typically outstanding. Kurt Ison’s varied programme, including miniatures by Lemmens, Hollins and Elgar as well as Stanford’s Fantasia & Toccata op.57, shows it off well and I particularly enjoyed the offerings by Australians Stacey Yang and Brett McKern (a splendid voluntary on Tallis’s Canon). For me, the organ is recorded too close and there is some audible editing, most especially at the transition between the Fugue and Variation in Franck’s op.18/3; surely the stepwise diminuendo implied by Franck’s registration change, and here artificially erased, is part of the intended effect.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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