Harmonies/Orgel Modern = KRENEK: Four-Winds Suite, Op. 223; LIGETI: 2 Etudes; CRISTOBAL HALFFTER: Ricercar; SCHNITTKE: 2 Little Pieces; ZSOLT DURKO: Andromeda; RAINER BISCHOF: Cadenza, Op. 19/2 – Martin Haselbock, organ – NCA multichannel SACD 60160-215, 61:01 [Distr. by Naxos] ***:
This to me is real creepy, “horror-show” stuff – as Alex from A Clockwork Orange might put it. Believe me, I am as fair as I can be to the avant-garde, and see more worth in much of it than most. But unless the idea of hearing two handfuls of concurrent half-notes played at full blast on a modern organ appeals to you, I would probably pass on this disc.
And that is unfair I am sure, as Haselbock is one of the best things going organ-wise, and virtually all the works on this disc are connected to him in some manner. Krenek, always a tough nut to crack, is particularly wooden in this case, the organ not always an affinity to his particular mode of being. Ligeti sports some interesting sonorities, as you would expect, and seems to revel in pure sonics—which has its place, but it seems as though that is all we get. Schnittke raised my hopes but dashed them quickly in a work of little substance, while the brutal yet fatally attractive Ricercar by Cristobal Halffter proves the most interesting work on the disc.
For me it is not enough, and an hour of this sort of thing is just too tormenting to the ear. But for those who revel in this sort of program—and I know that there are still some out there—you will find yourself glorying in some of the most spectacular surround sound ever given to an organ. The instrument itself is a honey, a new construction by Karl Schuke (Berlin) in 2001, residing in the Philharmonia Narodowa in Warsaw, Poland. Of the twenty pages in the excellent booklet, a full ten are devoted to the career of Martin Haselbock.
— Steven Ritter