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Positive Feedback ISSUE 41
january/february 2009


Organ Odyssey from Reference Recordings
by Robery H. Levi



OK, so this is the best organ recording of the decade. Big deal? You bet a big deal!

Recorded July 16-17,2007, Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas, this Lay Family Concert Organ first premiered in 1992 and has bowled over audiences non-stop. Able to compete with 100 piece orchestras at forte, the Lay Organ has just now been successfully recorded to my satisfaction and for all perfectionists among us. Mary Preston, Principal with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, does a gorgeous job at the complex keyboard of 66 voices, 84 ranks, and 4535 pipes! If your reference system is up to the challenge, prepare yourself for this giant beast to appear in your listening room in full and unstoppable glory.

Engineered by world renowned Keith Johnson, and edited and mastered by fantastic Paul Stubblebine, the HDCD encoded disk is a winner. I tweaked my system in preparation for this super silver disk. I made sure every Townshend Sink had plenty of air, the E.A.R. Acute upsampling CD player and EAR 912 Preamp had my favorite tube cocktails, the mighty E.A.R. 890 monoblocks were set wide open, all of the delicious Kubala-Sosna Emotion cables were locked down tight, and the Avalon Eidolons with 11 inch woofers and the REL Stadium 3 Sub were correctly tweaked.

My, my, my, the room became the concert hall and the sense of depth was stunning. I heard absolutely realistic, undistorted, natural organ sound down to the lowest notes. It was raw emotion and a true beauty. Close your eyes and you are there. No stray ambience or lost echo here, all is right as rain. Johnson has had plenty of practice over the years and he got it right with this disc. Marcia Martin was Executive Producer and her superb taste levels show. Well done Marcia! 

My favorites? The Mendelssohn Organ Sonata No.1 in F and, of course, the Widor Symphony No. 5 Toccata. These are just wonderful and played skillfully and artfully full out. The only things missing are the expensive tickets and sticky floor.

I have never heard the full-range of a colossal organ like this one so beautifully integrated top to bottom note and so naturally presented. This is the best of the best. Clarity is stellar. Tambours are perfect. Phase distortion is nonexistent. This would be fabulous in itself if the performances were not so spot on great.

The Organ Odyssey from Reference Recordings is a reference recording of the highest caliber. Utilizing the gigantic Lay Family Organ in Dallas and presenting Mary Preston, organist, you will live these eleven selections and as well as hear them in your listening room. The Organ Odyssey is the best organ recording known to me and a must own reference for audiophiles. Truly the organ recording of the decade [unless RR does a sequel] and a true beauty. The Mendelssohn Organ Sonata is worth the entire price! If you play this disk and you hear near sonic perfection your system is also near perfect. A reference disk for keeps! My Highest recommendation!