“Of Another Time” – Works of JENKINS, PAPONAUD, SAINT-SAENS, GRAINGER, LISZT, BONNET, WEITZ, KETELBEY, DEBUSSY, & GUILMANT – Yun Kyong Kim, 1920 Austin Organ at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dayton, OH – MSR Classics MS 1362, 70:14 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
CESAR FRANCK Pieces pour Orgue = Fantasie en la majeur; Cantabile; Piece Heroique; Prelude, Fugue, Variation; Premiere Choral en mi majeur – Lionel Avot, Orge Notre-Dame de la Dalbade, Toulouse – Editions Hortus 083, 59:09 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
Though the percentage of pipe organ recordings has greatly diminished , along with the diminishment of classical recordings in general, there are still a few labels courageous enough produce such recordings for fans of the genre – in spite of NPR having organ music listed near the top of the banned music formats on their airwaves. Here are two listenable organ recordings.
The particular pipe organ seems to be the focus of the MSR disc. Organ builders of that era worked on the creation of orchestrally-conceived Romantic pipe organs, and the CD is intended to allow listeners to explore and relive their unique sonorities of a bygone era. There are a few works by French composers, the heartbed of the Romantic Pipe Organ movement. The Paponaud Toccata uses the hymn tune “Christe sanctorum” as it’s theme. The presented figurations are reminiscent of Muley’s Thou Art Peter – one of my favorite organ works.
The Bonnet work – Elfes – was written with bell sounds in mind. The composer founded the organ department at the Eastman School of Music. The Ketelby work is his famous In a Monastery Garden, and its Oriental vibes transfer perfectly into Debussy’s Premiere Arabesque, using unbroken triads as the underlying musical pattern. The pernultimate track is Guilmant’s Moreau de Concert, which is an example of a movement from one of the large-scale French organ symphonies. The clarinet states the main lyrical theme. The finale opens with an exciting fugue which is explored and then culminates in a bold finale.
The Franck organ album is in memory to organist Jean Boyer, who died of leukemia recently. He was organist at this church in Toulouse and another, as well as organ professor at Lyon Conservatory. He recorded only rarely, preferring live performances.
The album notes go into the subject of improvisation – the specialty of French organists – and yet decried by critics. Franck felt improvisation the creator’s main tool. In this program two of his monuments are place alongside two pieces of ostensibly simpler construction.
Franck’s Piece Heroique is my favorite organ work by the composer, receiving here a masterful performance. The Prelude, Fugue and Variations is part of his Six Pieces of 1868. It was originally written for piano and harmonium, not organ. Neoclassicism is the main focus here, even with a pattern borrowed from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
Good sonics for standard CD, though SACD or hi-res would do an even better job of preserving the cathedral’s spatial acoustics.
— John Sunier
“Perhaps the most fluently consummate performer on the keyboard of all time…”