The creation of major works for the organ did not end with Bach, nor did the building of new instruments. But for 75 years after Bach’s death, little of importance happened in either field. Then came an explosion of creativity that lasted from Mendelssohn to Messiaen—fueled in part by the construction of powerful, colorfully sonorous instruments by the likes of Friedrich Ladegast, the Walckers, and Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Not surprisingly, Franz Liszt was in the vanguard of those who sought to exploit the tonal resources of these new “engines,” while paying homage to the style and spirit of the organ’s greatest exponent.
This impressive new release features two major works inspired by Bach—the Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H and Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen—and includes Liszt’s arrangement for organ of his tone poem Orpheus and two pieces of “mourning” music, Les morts, oraison and Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine. Everything is played with consummate taste and sensitivity, and Haselböck proves a real virtuoso in the B-A-C-H fugue, taking everything Liszt can throw at an organist and throwing it back with a vengeance. The Wagnerian sonority of Cöthen’s Ladegast organ is captured in a recording that conveys the full ambience of a sizable church while imaging the instrument with pinpoint clarity.