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A welcome delivery through the letterbox was volume 7 of David Ponsford’s series ‘French Organ Music from the Golden Age’. This time the subjects are Marchand – livre premier, 1740, pieces from deuxième livre (Versailles MS), and the Grand Dialogue from troisième livre (1696) – alongside Guilain (Pièces d’Orgue pour le Magnificat (1706) and Suite du premier ton). This CD is a treasure trove, for its liner notes and insights, as well as the dynamic playing. Only one fifth of the organ’s pipework is by Scherrer, the rest is Aubertin’s (in sympathetic style); the convincing result is one of his most successful instruments, with its temperament inspired by Schlick (1511) and Rameau (1726). Was Guilain actually Marchand incognito? – a theory advanced by Baffert; were the 1706 Pièces published to defray the expense of his (Marchand’s) divorce? The musical style of both named composers is difficult to differentiate; here is an opportunity, with Ponsford’s excellent notes to hand, to take stock of this question. Highlights are multitudinous, but must include Marchand’s sensational Grand Dialogue, which concludes the disc: eight minutes of classical organ work-out, with all four manuals in use in the composer’s commanding, multi- section style.

WILLIAM MCVICKER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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