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In this second CD featuring the newly restored Schnitger organ in Neuenfeld, Hilger Kespohl turns his attention to the uniquely beautiful music of Heinrich Scheidemann. Once again, the playing is stylistically sure-footed and the organ imaginatively presented. Nevertheless, for all the refinement in Kespohl’s playing, I rather miss a sense of the mercurial freedom which seems best to serve the pieces most closely aligned with what the 18th-century Hamburg music theoretician Johann Mattheson described as ‘Scheidemannische Liebligkeit’ (cited by Hans Davidsson in Matthias Weckmann: the interpretation of his organ music volume 1, Gehrmans Musikförlag, 1991). Thus, while the monumental opening verse of Mensch, willst du leben seliglich (plenum plus pedal reeds) revels in a circular sense of pulse, the motet intabulations in particular become fragmented through their fussy registration changes and, in Alleluia, laudem dicite, through an unusual interpretation of the tempo relationship at the change of metre, which renders the triple time sections something of a muddle. Also, in the duple time passages, surely two impulses in the bar (likewise in Dic nobis Maria) could have been more consistently projected. Julia Brown’s idiosyncratic recordings for Naxos still have a unique attraction for these ears. I mentioned the exceptionally prompt new Neuenfeld reeds in my review of Kespohl’s Weckmann CD, and it will be interesting to see how Wegscheider’s restoration of this iconic and beautiful organ will ultimately be received in the light of the issues raised in my article elsewhere in this issue (see p.32).

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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