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John Miller, July 2013

Hansjörk Albrecht, a splendid organist who has produced some superb SA-CDs for OEHMS…[used] two organs. St Nikolai church in Kiel has a large 48-rank Kleuker organ from 1965 and a 17-rank Aristide Cavaillé-Coll/Charles Mutin organ…the very ample resonant space of the church melds all the sounds into a sensational surround-sound experience.

Hearing these two organs in ‘The Planets’ is a quite a stunning musical and auditory experience. The huge dynamic range and range of instrumental colour is staggering. This transcription requires technical skills beyond the norm…

I could write a good deal about the astonishing way in which Albrecht husbands and blends all the resources of his two organs, often sounding like that of a full, real symphony orchestra, at others to truly justify the notion of the organ itself as truly the King of Instruments. Each movement, described imaginatively by Albrecht, is given the character traits Holst gleaned from Leo’s book, and the whole work has the sweep and progression intended by his particular ordering of the seven movements.

The stereo recording is superbly balanced, but the multichannel track will take you not just into a new world, but into all Holst’s, Sykes and Albrecht’s seven wonderful worlds. Used in the proper sense, I’m saying this disc is awesome.

Even if you are not an organ buff, please do have a listen to this gloriously recorded tour-de-force interpretation of the malleable ‘Planets’. © 2013 Read complete review

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, May 2012

Enter this new recording from the recording wizards at Oehms Classical. Recorded in the resonant spaces of the restored medieval Church of St. Nicholas in Kiel, Germany, it manages to be hugely powerful in the largest climaxes, while remaining transparent, detailed, and present in both the loudest and softest sections…the sound even in SACD stereo is so impressive and the organs are so well integrated that the effect is of a single instrument with breathtaking French symphonic articulation.

This new release pales in comparison to the earlier Sykes release only in matters of style. Hanjörg Albrecht, the organist in the aforementioned Wagner, as well as in a Poulenc release I lavishly praised in these pages (33:6), is in every way Sykes’s technical peer. What Sykes offers more consistently than Albrecht is not only the essential steak-and-kidney-pie Britishness of the thing, and its moments of wry humor, but also a telling subtlety of voicing. Albrecht is inclined to be a bit too stiff, as in the big tune of “Jupiter,” a bit too obvious in the misty domains of “Venus,” and to linger too long in the reflective passages of “Saturn” and “Neptune.” Still, absent the comparison, I suspect I would have overlooked it for the sheer brilliance of the playing.

Enjoy the sonic feast, and don’t leave it for just the organ buffs. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Mark Kravchenko
Classical Music Sentinel, March 2012

This performance goes head to head with the orchestral version and in many ways meets and exceeds it.

A combination of wonderful talents and choices, Hansjörg Albrecht is in the same category as Stokowski. An organist, a conductor, a choral conductor, a harpsichordist and a choir director. A real musician’s musician. Hansjörg commands his organ as one who is conducting an orchestra. There is thoughtful conveyance of the spirit of the music rather than the pressing of the correct key at the correct time. The pacing and dynamics are most enjoyable to listen to. The attention to details in the tone colors and the registration of the manuals are a sonic delight.

This version of the Planets is most engaging. A treat for the ears that is very rare. The recording is top notch, the miking is simply stunning in it’s ability to convey both the delicacy and the power present during this performance. To say that this is a workout for your stereo is by far an understatement.

Both my thumbs up, and if you include Jean-Yves’ opinion, a four thumb recording.

This is something you have to hear to understand how great it really is. © 2012 Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, February 2012

This transcription by Peter Sykes and performance by organist Hansjörg Albrecht is a huge improvement, and may in fact be preferable to many listeners vs. the now-hackneyed Holst orchestral original…

The variety and diversity of Holst’s musical creations for seven of the planets seem to stand out more clearly in the organ arrangements than they did for full orchestra. It might even appeal to listeners who are normally averse to pipe organ. Albrecht’s interesting notes on each of the movements frequently make reference to works by other composers which have some similarity to the particular planet’s movement by Holst.

Organ music is a whole different experience in the excellent hi-res surround provided by Oehms. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Robert Benson, February 2012

there is no question that the huge sound of an organ in a resonant church is mightily impressive. SACD surround sound places you right in the middle of the huge church. An intriguing issue! © 2012 Read complete review

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