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Neuenfeld is a special place, indelibly linked with Arp Schnitger, who is buried in the church’s nave and immortalised in the street names. Until recently, his 1688 organ was obscured by layers of 19th- and 20th-century intervention. The 2015 restoration/reconstruction, unusually for organs in that area by Kristian Wegscheider, has returned it firmly to the Hamburg organ-pilgrimage route, and the long-standing threat by Airbus to flatten the village in order to build a new runway at their adjacent factory seems now to have abated. The present organist, Hilger Kespohl, here presents a survey of some of Weckmann’s sublime shorter compositions and his sense of the capricious rhetoric of the free works is especially convincing. True, the lack of a manual 16ft reed prevents the characteristic Weckmann ‘Sonaten’ registration (for example, in the first verse of ‘Ach, wir armen Sünder’) and perhaps Kespohl’s desire to show offthe organ leads to some uncharacteristic registrations (a Toccata played on 8ftflutes, for example), although making any assertions about registration in the north German repertoire is, admittedly, fraught with difficulty. His final offering, the Magnificat II toni, leaves offwhere the final recording of the unrestored organ began, a splendid 2004 IFO disc by Kespohl’s illustrious predecessor, Karl-Bernhardin Kropf. Comparison is fascinating and illustrates well how much beauty has been gained, not least in the magnificent new reeds.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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