Like those Thomas Browne describes in his Urne-Buriall, who “took a lasting adieu of their interred Friends, little expecting the curiosity of future ages should comment upon their ashes”, most of the composers on this fascinating debut recording by Melbourne organist Robert James Stove would have had ear and eye on practicality rather than posterity. Yet here is their music resurrected, opening a window on the organ utterances echoing in the northern parts of the Hapsburg Empire during the 16th and early 17th centuries.

As Stove points out, “one would need to characterise (the music’s) idiom as broadly conservative. The Monteverdian harmonic and textural revolutions largely passed it by”. But in the works of Georg Muffat, Johann Kaspar Kerll, Johann Jakob Froberger, Lambert Chaumont, Jan Zach and others there is a “substantial variety of mood and approach”.

As there is in Stove’s thoughtful, supple and imaginative playing on the 1862 two-manual organ of St Patrick’s, Mentone. Zach’s melancholy Prelude and Fugue in C Minor – one of the recording’s highlights – receives a solemn, majestical reading counterbalanced by anonymous dances and the delightful Echo of Gérard Scronx, itself echoed by Chaumont’s Écho du Premier ton. Between these extremes lie improvisatory toccatas by Muffat and Froberger and Joseph-Hector Fiocco’s Vivaldian Andante.

Composer: Zach, Muffatt, Froberger
Composition: Baroque organ music
Performer: RJ Stove org
Catalogue Number: Ars Organi AOR001

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