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This box set is a re-release of recordings from the earlier 1990s. Sadly, not a huge effort has gone into the packaging here, with simple replication of notes from each of the three old recordings, and no further information on the all-important instruments involved. However, let that not detract from some first-rate performances by Australia’s pre-eminent organist on the country’s finest organs. For the first two CDs the 127-stop organ installed by William Hill & Son in 1890 ably accommodates all the romantic repertoire with the vibrant reeds, making for exciting renditions of French and English music in equal measure. The instrument is not recorded too close, giving a sense of being in the room and enveloped by the sounds of this vast instrument, although at the expense of clarity in the tutti sections. Particular highlights are the Fantasia and Toccata of Stanford and Dupré’s Cortège et litanie (complete with 64ftreed at the end!) as well as a powerful Gothic Toccata by Australian composer Graeme Koehne. The third CD turns to the smaller, but no less significant, Lewis instrument in St Paul’s, Melbourne. Again, I would prefer a little more clarity in the recording but there are really fine renditions of significant works, including Francis Jackson’s Toccata, Chorale & Fugue, Jongen’s Quatre pièces and Reger’s Fantasy on ‘Wachet auf’. Improvisations on all three discs make clever and exciting use of some complex themes.

RUPERT GOUGH Read the full review on Agora Classica


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