Tournemire, who lived until 1939, studied with Franck and Widor, but his music was the antithesis of the virtuoso/symphonic technique-focused music of Wider and Dupre. The overall title of The Mystical Organ provides an idea of Tournemire’s alternate approach. A high degree of spiritual and theological absorption is evident in his music, which while rooted in the romantic and impressionistic traditions opened itself to new sounds and paved the way for Olivier Messiaen. Both composers saw their music as principally a sign of religious devotion.
The harmonic basis of modality and the thematic basis of Gregorian Chant are evident in the music of Tournemire. While at home in the romantic era of the 19th century he helped pave the way for the modernity of the 20th century. His particular registrations are often very poetic. Much of the music is in the Gregorian spirit.
While this is not a virtuoso display in the fashion of Dupre or Widor, the organ is magnificent and well-captured in Cybele’s multichannel surround reproduction. Audiophiles will wig out at the final section of the Easter Office: Piece terminale: paraphrase et double choral. It will definitely stress your subwoofer(s) and impress your friends!
– John Sunier