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Hans-Eberhard Roß follows up on his recording of the complete organ works of Franck with the first volume in a series traversing the organ symphonies of Vierne, recorded once again on the Goll organ at Memmingen. As with the Franck recording, it is interesting to read the performer’s own thoughts on the interpretation of this music. Here, however, Roß’s arguments in favour of his highly idiosyncratic performances are less than convincing. Railing against recordings made on ‘opulent Cavaillé-Coll instruments in cathedrals with too much reverberation’, through his touch (‘frequently abandoning a tiresome continuous legato in favour of a looser type of attack’) and tempi he sets about revealing every detail of Vierne’s often complex counterpoint. Roß’s approach, denying the essential unified aesthetic of music and organ-type in favour of a modernist ideal, results in near-caricatures of these great pieces in which the underlying big gesture is constantly sacrificed for micro-managed, and often exaggerated, detail. The ‘tempo rubato’ is entirely absent, although the constantly changing tempo (with many additional accelerandi and ritenuti) of the famous Final from Symphonie no.1 is mannered and irritating.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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