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One of the few joys of being locked down last spring was the proliferation of often excellent live-streamed organ concerts from across Europe and beyond. The Dutch were quick offthe mark with an enterprising series of three-hour, five-player ‘Orgel Marathons’ on Wednesday evenings, traversing a cross- section of some of the country’s magnificent historic instruments. The ‘Marathons’ also provided a platform for the new generation of Dutch organists, several of whom had been recently been appointed to prominent, and seldom vacant, positions. One of the most intriguing was Lennart Morée, a name entirely unknown to me, probably because his primary activity is as a pianist rather than an organist. His live performances of his own transcriptions, on challenging old organs, were hair-raisingly brilliant – I couldn’t help but think of Thomas Trotter. It’s good, therefore, to have a CD of Morée’s transcriptions to review.

The programme is punctuated by movements from Bach cantatas, most played in a manner entirely in the spirit of the music and the instrument, but, just for fun, one based on a Stokowski orchestration as well. The programme also includes the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no.24, providing a stunning showcase for the late baroque colours of the Bolsward Hinsz instrument, a Prelude by Rachmaninov and highly virtuosic renditions of works by MacDowell, Mendelssohn and the Scherzo from Schumann’s Second Symphony. The organ, described by me in these pages (Jan/Feb 2019), has no swell box, no registration aids and a big flat pedalboard, but its combination of rococo colour and early romantic warmth works brilliantly well in all the music presented. The final track, the 1980s hit Walk like an Egyptian by The Bangles, is so creatively reworked as to sound like a second Fantasmagorie by Jehan Alain. The booklet is perfunctory; a pity because the music is absolutely spectacular.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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