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Allende-Blin: Organ Works - Gerd Zacher

Allende-Blin: Organ Works - Gerd Zacher

Cybele  SACD 060401

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Juan Allende-Blin: Echelons für Orgel, Mein blaues Klavier für Orgel, Drehorgel und Maultrommel, Transformations II für Orgel, Coral de Caracola für Orgel

Gerd Zacher (organ)

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Review by John Broggio - January 10, 2007

In contrast to Allende-Blin: Piano Music - Thomas Günther, this disc of Allende-Blin's music is much more stimulating to the ear and altogether more enjoyable. In addition, it has some of the most extraordinary sounds to come from an organ that I have heard to date.

Gerd Zacher is our compelling guide to this music, both as a player and also as the writer of excellent notes that Cybele always seem to supply with their discs. Starting with "Echelons für Orgel" (1962-68), a three movement work, this is followed by "Mein blaues Klavier" (1969/70), "Transformations II" (1952) and concludes with the most recent work "Coral de Caracola" (1985).

Written in a very sparse but effective style, the pedal notes are pulsating through Echelons and above it, interspersions of various degrees are dotted about. As the work progresses, more and more importance is given to the effect of silence after sound, which on a piano is fairly limited as the notes die away quickly and unevenly - here there is no such issue and the prolonged duration of both notes and the pauses are compelling. Not nearly as compelling as the extraordinary effect employed in the third movement (also repeated in Mein blaues Klavier) of switching the organ on and off whilst playing! This has the simultaneous effect of the notes distorting in pitch whilst the volume changes and has to be heard to be believed.

Mein blaues Klavier has a further effect that is very effective and one thinks of Mahler in the way that Allende-Blin combines a well known Bach piece - though this can be changed at the whim of the performer to other works - on a barrel organ (played by the composer in this recording) which is also switched on and off, just as the older music becomes recognisable. The blend of timbres between the full organ that Zacher plays and the barrel organ is one that has surely not been attempted before or since.

Transformations II is a miniature work which is not very interesting. Coral de Caracola was written for Allende-Blin's composition teacher (his uncle Pedro Allende-Saron, praised by Debussy no less, who would have been 100 in 1985) and is a piece of huge contrasts: from epic and drawn out chords, followed by similarly scaled pauses, to dazzling displays of bravura that have barely registered before they are over.

I cannot imagine this music will be better played or recorded for quite some time (if at all) and for those who want to explore the wondrous sounds that this grand instrument can make, I heartily recommend this disc.

Copyright © 2007 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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