Arrangements for two organs and percussion – Music by Josef Rheinberger and Modest Mussorgsky – Organists Jörg Endebrock and Suzanne Rohn – Konrad Graf- percussion -HD-Klassic SACD with stereo and binaural versions / hd-klassic 3D-001701 TT: 60:31 – Released August 2017

A spectaclular demonstration of audio technology with excellent performances

It’s not often I hear something really new and unique, both musically and technically. But that’s the case with this new disc from HD-Klassic, a German distributor.

This SACD features 3 ways to listen to this music- on the stereo layer of the CD, in 5.1 surround on the SACD layer, and as a binaural recording designed for headphone listening.

The music is well suited for this technology demonstration: It includes Josef Rheinberger’s Organ Concerto #2, and an organ transcription of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This work is also scored for percussion. Two organs are played for both pieces. That’s not something you hear every day.

Organist Susanne Rohn and Jörg Endenbrock  play the historic Walker Organ at the Lutheran Church at Wiesbaden and the Klas Organ respectively. Percussionist Konrad Graf provided the percussion music during the Mussorgsky.

It’s quite a listen in any of the formats provided. In 5.1, the disc is simply thrilling. The deep prodigious bass of the organs, combined with light percussion in the Mussorgsky give the listener an involved and breathtaking performance. If you’ve heard the Ravel transcription, it won’t prepare you for the power of hearing Pictures at an Exhibition played this way.

Of course it’s not just audio spectacle. The organists are precise, and the emotions flow easily. I must say, I expected more percussion during the Mussorgsky, but it’s rather subdued. Still, it’s an interesting addition to this classic work.

So many good sounding demo discs don’t have much musical content. They are designed as an audio gimmick. Here we get excellent performances, and sound you won’t forget.

The stereo recording is fine, but not as involving as the surround hi definition tracks. I had some difficulty finding all the versions. I used my Oppo player and finally found if I engaged the audio button on the remote I could get the stereo tracks. The binaural tracks are also on the stereo layer, and they repeat the original 18 tracks in binaural sound.

The SACD layer has tracks 1-18 in higher quality surround sound.

I listened to the binaural tracks on my HiFi Man headphones. As ABC Sports used to say, it was ‘up close and personal’. The tracks were recorded without any filtering or other audio messing about. The sound is spectacular, although headphones listening is not my favorite way to listen to music. I felt I was at the location, and the organs and percussion were far more directional than in the other two mixes.

I recommend this disc for the unique musical experience it offers, both sonically and artistically.

—Mel Martin