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Readers’ curiosity will, I hope, have been piqued by Krzysztof Urbaniak’s article about the truly remarkable renaissance organ at Olkusz, recently reconstructed/ restored by Flentrop. Listening to this splendid new recording of the organ brings home in no uncertain terms how much we have to learn about the profoundly important instruments described in Urbaniak’s series. The Olkusz organ has a unique, ear-popping radiance: an earthy intensity magnified by the meantone tuning, with which it is difficult to draw any obvious parallels. It is wonderfully captured here in music from the Krakow and Oliwa tablatures, by Hofhaimer and Erbach, and from Italy. The 70-year old Julian Gembalski’s playing is idiomatic (the use of the reeds in Cavazzoni aside) and sophisticated, finding just the right degree of conversational rhetoric in Frescobaldi’s Toccata prima (second book) and the acute sense of other-worldly in marrying the subsequent Toccata per l’elevazione with the touchingly vocal 8ft Principał. Special mention must also be made of the unique untuned Cymbał, its multiple pipes inserted into a single boot, the picture of which in these pages must have raised many eyebrows. It sounds… very different indeed. This is beautifully presented and 20 more minutes of music would have been more than welcome.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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