Liszt: Organ Works
Nicolas Kynaston, Organ
(IMP Masters 30366 0032, DDD)
This release has everything going for it: one of the worlds's great organists, six of Liszt's grandest and most serious works and blockbuster sonics. The major time is Liszt's half-hour Fantasy and Fugue on 'Ad nos, ad Salutarem undam, plus surprisingly effective transcriptions Funerailles and Orpheus. As a serious scholar-organist, Nicolas Kynaston includes several of Liszt's avant-garde works: Excelsior (which anticipated Wagner's Parsifal), the nearly atonal Am Grabe Richard Wagners, plus the equally grim Trauerode.
If there's a finer, more musical organist before the public today, I've not heard him or her. The playing tempo selection registrations on the Klais organ of Ingolstadt, Munster are ideal. They set a new standard for these works, which is saying something when one considers previous standards for the concerto-like fantasy and fugue. (Curiously, the work is in three big movements, not two: a Fantasy, a large Adagio and then the Fugue.) Kynaston captures all the Brucknerian grandeur in these sober, utterly serious works to perfection. But be warned, that if you like your Liszt on the dizzy levels of the Hungarian Rhapsodies and Opera fantasies, forget it. These compositions represent the daring, heroic Liszt at his finest.
As an additional bonus, the state-of-the-art sonics offer a major challenge to your equipment. Audiophiles ahoy! (You may remember some of producer Jonathan Wearn's pace-setting organ recordings years ago for Phillips.) This is, from any point of view, one of the great organ recordings to date. Highest imaginable recommendation.
This review of the Same album is from "Instrumental Reviews" Magazine.
As one of the wonders of the organ the Ingolstadt Klais has frequently been the focus of record producers' attention. Similarly Liszt's organ music is no stranger to the catalogues, while Nicolas Kynaston has an impressive discography to his credit. Certainly we have here all the ingredients of a splendid release. It's not merely splendid, though: this disc is a true colossus among organ recordings.
The instrument's vast dynamic range positively luxuriates in a sumptuous acoustic, vividly captured in this demonstration-quality recording. Here's one to impress neighbors and friends, whether or not they (or you, for that matter) enjoy organ music. For my part I have to confess I don't usually enjoy the Liszt of seemingly interminable transcriptions and small programmatic organ pieces, but it's in these very pieces - not least Kynaston's own perceptive transcription of Funerailles' that this disc's real strengths lie; although there is a thrilling account of the great Ad nos. Kynaston handles the organ with matchless sensitivity but it's not the kaleidoscope of timbres, the ever changing aural landscape or the ravishing sounds he continually conjures up which makes these performances so intensely pleasurable: that comes from his astute interpretative insight which reveals every bar of music with utter conviction.
Rarely, if ever, have I enjoyed an organ recording so much. Luckily, the CD is a resilient medium: if this were an LP I would have played it to destruction by now.
By Ivor Humphreys with a technical reappraisal of recently reviewed recordings
When I first read this from MR in the July issue ". . . a true colossus among organ recordings" I immediately went in search of a copy. This is a Liszt recital played by Nicolas Kynaston on the Klais organ of Ingolstadt Minster, Germany ("one of the wonders of the organ world") and has been recorded quite magnificently by IMP Masters. This is one of the finest organ recording I have heard. The microphones capturing to perfection every detail one could wish to hear and projecting such a real sense of that intense acoustic that one is almost literally transported to the Munster itself. Such clarity and spatial definition are due in no small way , one gathers after reading the small print in the booklet, the the use of just two B&K microphones, a 24-bit domain. No limiting or equalization was employed and it shows. Here is articulation, attack, and definition of an exceptional order set on top of an amazingly silent background. There have been a number of fine recordings put through the mill this month, but I would out this one forward as the most outstanding - a "demonstration-quality recordings" in the best sense of the word.