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Two more volumes in Priory’s fascinating and far-reaching survey of European organs bring the series ever closer to its century mark with first recordings from Portugal and the UK. Michal novenko’s recital boasts a real curiosity in the shape of a i/45 baroque instrument built by Manuel Bento Gomes Ferreira in 1939-43 for the Monastery of Arouca. restored by Gerhard Grenzing in 2009, among its peculiarities are its scale (despite the singular manual), its combining of divided and entire stops, and its impressive open Diapason 16ft-front pipes. Considered one of the country’s most important historic organs, it’s heard here in an adroitly chosen programme of Portuguese music (dominated by Carlos Seixas) from the early 16th to late 18th centuries. in the monastery’s wide acoustics it sounds characterfully crisp and bright, with expressive textures in lower voices. Well worth investigating for novelty value alone.

On more familiar territory is Gerard Brooks, who offers a first appearance on disc of the Harrison & Harrison IV/66 rebuild of the mighty great hall organ in London’s Methodist Central hall. again, a well-chosen (all-British) programme superbly showcases the rich, sonorous timbres of an impressively equipped instrument. William Lloyd Webber’s enchanting Six Interludes on Christmas Carols, Stanford’s tightly woven Fantasia and Toccata, and Ireland’s beautiful and brittle Elegiac Romance (in its original 1902 version) make much of Brooks’s nuanced playing and the organ’s poetry and precision.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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