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Recording of the Month: September 2016

Fernando Germani at Selby Abbey  SAOA01
Fernando Germani plays the organ of Selby Abbey

The world-famous Italian virtuoso Fernando Germani recorded three LPs for HMV on the fine Hill organ of Selby Abbey in the 1960s, and these recordings became greatly admired. The marvellous sounds of the 4-manual 1909 Hill organ were brilliantly captured by EMI engineers, but the LPs have been difficult to find in recent years. The Selby Abbey Organ Appeal was launched in 2012 to raise the £520,000 needed to restore the organ after it became virtually unplayable, and a further £54,000 was raised to provide a detached nave recital console. Now, 3½ years later, the Appeal has reached its target and the project its completion. This CD is a digitally remastered reissue of a number of the tracks from the LPs. It is sold in aid of the Organ Appeal. Germani was the Pope’s organist at St Peter’s in Rome and was considered to be one of the outstanding organists of all time.

The CD contains four short works by Frescobaldi, the Chorals no 1 in E minor and no 3 in A minor by César Franck, the Prelude & Fugue on BACH by Liszt, the Fantasia on the Chorale ‘Hallelujah! Gott zu loben’ by Reger and the Toccata from Symphony no 5 in F minor by Widor.  Germani’s playing is thrilling and dazzling, achieving a perfect balance between superficial excitement, textual clarity and musical substance.  A Grand Celebration Concert was held in Selby Abbey on Friday 9th September 2016.