Recordings by Pope’s organist remastered for abbey’s fund

WORLD-FAMOUS recordings made using a Yorkshire abbey’s organ have been digitally remastered to raise funds to restore the historic instrument amid fears it will be unplayable within the next five years.

The remastered CD features a new compilation of works originally recorded at Selby Abbey between 1961 and 1964 by Fernando Germani, who was the Pope’s organist at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The abbey’s internationally-renowned organ which dates from the Edwardian era needs extensive renovations and there are fears that it will become unplayable unless the work is carried out.

The highlight of the CD is a performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s final movement, Toccata, from his Symphony for Organ No. 5. The CD also includes works by Frescobaldi, César Franck, Franz Liszt and Max Reger.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The chairman of the appeal’s trustees, John Engelhart, said: “The release of the Germani performances at Selby Abbey is a major event for lovers of organ music and we are thankful that leading figures in the world of music have generously given their time in the production of the CD.

“We are sure it will be a much-loved addition to many collections.”

The appeal was launched in May last year with an initial target of £1m. However, that figure has been revised to £550,000 and more than £330,000 has been raised in donations and pledges. A bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for up to £100,000 is also being considered.

The instrument was built in 1909 and the British Academy of Music’s patron, Carlo Curley, called it “an international treasure of commendable renown and one of Europe’s top sonic treasures”.

But some notes cannot be played in certain atmospheric conditions and repairs undertaken in the last 30 years have also impaired its sound.

The CD costs £12 at www.selbyabbeyorganappeal.org.uk