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Liszt: Ad Nos, Ad Salutarum Undam; Reger, Franck, Saint-Saens / Ramirez

Ramirez / Liszt / Reger / Franck / Saint-saens
Release Date: 03/22/2011 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94174   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz LisztMax RegerCésar FranckCamille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Raúl Prieto Ramírez
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"The Spanish organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez is certainly new-media savvy, with a bright and breezy website and several YouTube video clips. That said, he is new to me, and this programme – the Liszt is fiendishly difficult to bring off – strikes me as pretty ambitious. As for the great organ of Milan Cathedral, that too is unfamiliar. Intriguingly, it was commissioned in 1937 by the city’s then council chairman, one Benito Mussolini, drawing on the talents of several Italian organ builders. Not surprisingly, there were conflicts and fall-outs, but since its Read more inauguration this 15,350-pipe monster has been dismantled, rebuilt and, in 1999, thoroughly cleaned.

Liszt wrote this Fantasy and Fugue at Weimar in the winter of 1850, taking as its cue the stirring chorale sung by the Anabaptists in Act I of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s five-act blockbuster, Le Prophète. Given the scale of Liszt’s piece – it’s in three movements lasting around half an hour – and that of this instrument, one might be forgiven for feeling intimidated at the prospect of hearing them together. The rest of the works on this disc are more modest, and don’t require quite the steel and stamina that the Liszt demands of organist and audience alike.

Christopher Herrick, in his version of the Liszt on Hyperion’s Organ Fireworks X (CDA67458) starts with a restrained statement of the Ad nos theme’ before diving into the vasty deep that is the Moderato. Alongside his very modern instrument – the Létourneau organ of the Winspear Centre in Edmonton, Canada, was inaugurated in 2002 – the Italian one sounds far more imposing. Ramírez, like Gilbert & Sullivan’s suicidal songbird, plunges straight into the billowy wave which, for the first two minutes at least, threatens to swamp everything in its path. Indeed, one can only sympathise with the engineers who have to capture this great wash of sound.

If you and your kit are up to the challenge this is actually an impressive performance, the gaudy colours of the Milan organ entirely appropriate for music of such size and ambition. Goodness, those swirling figures in the first movement are just terrifying, the bright fanfares ringing out most thrillingly. And despite excessive reverberation inner detail isn’t compromised nearly as much as I feared. As for the rolling bass, only one word will suffice: awesome. But then this is an unashamed showpiece, so the more flamboyantly it’s played the better.

Clearly Ramírez is a confident performer, for whom this music holds no terrors. He’s just as adept – and thoughtful – in the quiet waters of the central Adagio which, for all its stillness, steers well clear of the doldrums. By contrast Herrick seems brighter and lighter, the pale northerner pitted against sun-darkened southerner. It’s a fascinating contrast and one that, in terms of sheer drama at least, favours the Spanish player. The Introduction and fugue that brings it all to a tumultuous close is no less compelling, the storm-dashed opening bars as exhilarating as I’ve ever heard them. But it’s the long build-up to that shattering finale that really takes one’s breath away. The music’s towering dynamics are superbly caught.

This is an ‘Ad nos’ to remember with awe rather than affection, but for all that it’s a real achievement for Ramírez. In the unlikely event that he ever needs a calling card, this is it." -- Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Fantasy and Fugue for Organ, S 259 "Ad nos, ad salutarem" by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Raúl Prieto Ramírez (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Weimar, Germany 
Chorale Fantasias (2) for Organ, Op. 40: no 2, Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn by Max Reger
Performer:  Raúl Prieto Ramírez (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 09/1899; Germany 
Pieces (3) for Organ: no 3 - Pièce héroïque in B minor, M 37 by César Franck
Performer:  Raúl Prieto Ramírez (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; France 
Danse macabre in G minor, Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Raúl Prieto Ramírez (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 
Notes: Arranger: Lemare. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Instrument > Music March 24, 2013 By Dr. Mitchell Gurk (Spencer, MA) See All My Reviews "More a demonstration of a unique and superlative instrument than for the sake of the music, which anyway i found less than compelling. Organ geeks will like the shivers. Yet this recording defeated a very good audio system - mostly at the low volume end. Instead of delicacy or feeling we get disappearance, bare whisper. i bought it to further acquaint self with organ music - ehh. It will be a shelf object only here." Report Abuse
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