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This is a gorgeously presented double CD set, adorned with fabulous photography and artwork, in which Loreto Aramendi presents a diverse repertoire on two exceptionally preserved organs of the Spanish baroque. Well- known recordings of the Echevarría organ in Salamanca exist (not least Guy Bovet’s with his iconic composition for the organ) but the organs of the Bosch dynasty are more often talked about than recorded, so the present disc of the famous instrument at Santanyí (formerly in Santo Domingo in Palma) is most welcome. This, after all, is the organ with the world’s first tuning slots (one of many developments attributed to Jordi Bosch), double pallets and, possibly, the largest mixture in the world (XXII-XXV, demonstrated). While Aramendi’s performances are fluid and committed, the programming of both discs, while creative (a fandango with castanets is great fun), poses some questions. Both recordings consist predominantly of music written at least a century earlier than the organs’ period of construction, and the late 16th- and 17th-century repertoire is sometimes given a thorough makeover to compensate. Correa’s Morales Batalla tiento, for example, is heard with countless registration and manual changes and copious use of the chamades (Correa wrote his Facultád for a single-manual organ with divided compass, and the chamade was yet to appear to Spain). Sweelinck’s Ballo del granduca is heard with chamades and added drums. There is an obvious parallel with playing Grigny (also featured briefly here) in Poitiers, for example; the music remains wonderful but one is leftwondering whether the real essence of the organ has been captured. There are suggestive hints of contemporary Spanish repertoire (Larrañaga in Salamanca, José Blasco de Nebra in Santanyí) and, while it may be lesser music than Correa and Sweelinck, the translation of the earlier repertoire doesn’t feel entirely satisfactory. The Salamanca organ, meanwhile, is heard in a Buxtehude Praeludium and, most perplexingly, the chamades make an appearance in excerpts from Hugo Distler’s Spielstücken – the very antithesis of the milieu which gave rise to this most intimate music. The translation of the interesting texts is variable and the recordings too close to capture the effect of the instruments in the lofty spaces. Lots to admire here, but not quite outstanding.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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