Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
This new disc, recorded by the prolific Iain Quinn on the Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge, contains all of the original solo organ works of Beethoven and Hummel, together with other works by Beethoven and Mozart originally written for mechanical organs. Thus we hear an unusual collection tracing the influence of the development of the classical style on music for the organ played by a talented organist who is currently Assistant Professor of Organ at The Florida State University where he is also Co-ordinator of Sacred Music. All of the three composers featured lived at a time when professional musicians, whether performers of composers, could not afford to ignore sacred music which, for 18th century Europe, meant Christian music and, more often than not, for the Roman Catholic church. However organ music is less easy to define as Christian or of any particular denomination and so stands or falls as music. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) are both giants who should require no introduction. The recital opens and closes with Mozart with his "Adagio and Allegro in F" at the top and "Fantasia in F Minor" at the tail along with his "Andante in F" part way through and, when you hear them, you will know it could only be Mozart. However, for this listener, Beethoven's contribution was a pleasant surprise. I have always admired Beethoven without ever warming to him but here he shows his sense of humour. If you can listen to his two "Preludes through all the major keys" without smiling please do not think of buying this CD. The third composer, Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) is lesser known although his choral music has been praised elsewhere on this website. His "Prelude and Fugue in C minor" stands comparison with the other compositions on this disc but as the timing is a mere six minutes the quantity makes it difficult to assess the quality. As with all instrumental music you will not hear great Christian truths proclaimed by hearts and voices but if you enjoy organ music played well on a significant instrument then you will find plenty to appreciate on this release.
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