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Bon McQuiston

"
While the name of Luis Urteaga (1882-1960) will undoubtedly be unknown to most, this extraordinary release featuring some of his organ works certainly qualifies him as a significant CLOFO discovery. Everything is beautifully registrated and played by Esteban Iriarte on an outstanding instrument located at the San Vicente Church in San Sebastian, Spain.
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Although he was born, educated and spent his entire life in Spain, for the most part the selections on this disc seem French influenced. More specifically, the names of Cesar Franck, Alexander Guilmant (see the newsletter of 1 June 2007), Charles-Marie Widor and Louis Vierne may come to mind when hearing this disc. No specific dates are given for any of the selections here, but they were probably all written between 1914 and 1952. The first piece, just known as Allegro maestoso, begins in the grand manner with a pontifical theme played on the full organ. A stirring fugue follows, but then dissolves into a meditative central episode, only to return along with the opening motif as the work ends triumphantly. This virtuoso opus is definitely not for beginners! The next ten selections, which constitute a cycle known as Ofrenda to Pope Pius X, are miniatures that have no pedal parts and can also be played on the harmonium. When performed on a magnificent church instrument like the one here though, they become dynamic, dramatically impressive interludes, covering a wide variety of moods. The first, fifth, ninth (a toccata) and tenth are absolutely thrilling; the second and fourth, very lyrical; and the remainder, piously meditative. The Marche religiosa that follows is not your everyday church recessional, but an inspired, twelve-minute, free-form creation somewhat akin to Franck's chorales. Two lovely pastorals, an impressionistic sounding response (dedicated to Claude Debussy) and a meditation, Tu Gloria Jerusalem, provide a respite before the rousing last selection on this disc. Simply entitled Final, it's the most harmonically advanced piece here and makes for a stunning conclusion to this outstanding recital. You'll find it on a par with those exhilarating finales from Widor's organ symphonies. Everything is beautifully registrated and played by Esteban Iriarte on an outstanding instrument located at the San Vicente Church in San Sebastian, Spain. Originally built by the great Aristide Cavaille-Coll, it was later enlarged, but still retains those unmistakable tonal characteristics typically associated with its original creator. It seems ideally suited to Urteaga's organ music. The recording is demonstration quality, and audiophile organ buffs should take note. Don't be surprised, though, if it sounds a mite bright on systems with a tendency to favor the upper midrange frequencies. If you like this release, by all means try the Charles Tournemire disc we recommended not too long ago (see the newsletter of 7 February 2007). (Y070805)
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)

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