‘If you enjoyed the first CD, this second will exceed your expectations. Now to have available as accomplished a projected series of recordings as this is truly a treat. Here is a performance and recording enterprise that deserves landmark status of its own. Unhesitatingly recommended.’ Mark Sealey. Classical Net ‘Part of the attractiveness of these discs stems from Lester’s study of and employment of contemporary fingering techniques and of period ornamentation. Much of the music looks like the work of a dull dog as it stands on the printed page but not when you hear it played. The letter killeth but the spirit which Lester imparts giveth life.’
Brian Wilson. musicweb-international.com
Half of the pieces in Lester's programme are drawn from the Second Book of Toccate, Canzone (Rome, 1627/1637), the rest from other publications during Frescobaldi's lifetime, except track 4, which comes straight from manuscript. All works are played on the 1588 organ in San Salvatore, Italy, apart from the final two, which - somewhat incongruously - revert to harpsichord, though again an authentic instrument from 1619. More information about the instruments played by Lester during this series is available on the official series website.
This CD offers a first chance in Lester's series to hear Frescobaldi the "miraculous organist." The instrument used for this recording was built by Costanzo Antegnati in the late 16th century at the church of St Nicola near Almenno in northern Italy, and very likely played by Frescobaldi himself. Though the organ itself is a little rough around the edges, Frescobaldi's music for it is riveting, often astoundingly modern in its harmonics. Though these works are still clearly devotional in the main, audiences must have been startled by some of the chords and sequences; yet his amazing popularity as an organist indicates that this new style and sound was quickly accepted by contemporaries and benefactors alike.
The accompanying booklet contains fascinating notes of a different kind by Lester, with sections on historical context, the pieces themselves, the instrument and period technique. Again, recording details - other than that Raymond Fenton did the business - have disappointingly been left out. The booklet describes this disc in fact as a 'compilation', with the recordings being licensed from Privilège Accord. Sound quality is fairly good, although there is still just a little background hiss in evidence at the beginnings and ends of tracks, and the organ recordings have a slight 'underwater' quality to them.