“Organ Polychrome” = [TrackList follows] – Jan Kraybill, pipe organ – Reference Recordings

by | Oct 17, 2014 | Classical CD Reviews

“Organ Polychrome” = [TrackList follows] – Jan Kraybill, pipe organ – Reference Recordings RR-133 HDCD, 71:21 [Distr. by Allegro] *****:

This is the rich French heritage of those composers (and mostly also organists) who created distinctive works for the expanding voices of the French pipe organ during a 55-year window around the turn of the 20th century. One of them—Widor—was even born into a family of organ builders, and during his 64-year career at Paris’ St.-Sulpice church, he composed more and more complex organ symphonies (ten in all) while the organ builders developed more pipe constructions and control mechanisms to keep up with the sounds which were demanded.

Jan Kraybill is Principal Organist for The Dome and Spire Organ Foundation and Organ Conservator at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, where this recording was made last year by Keith O. Johnson. She also wrote the page of notes on each of the composers represented in this 14 track CD. They provide an aural and historical view of the importance of the French organ school of the period. In addition to the expected composers such as Widor and Vierne, less well-knowns such as Bonnet, Guilmant and Gigout are represented.  Most of the selections are quite short, except for two three-movement suites and the familiar ten-minute Franck work, Piece heroique.

A complete list of the registrations of the Julia Irene Kauffman Organ appears in the note booklet, and Kraybill’s notes on each composer often end with a discription of the construction and registrations of one of the works so that you can follow along while listening. Her playing is expressive in the quieter portions and pulls out all the stops when hitting some of the big orchestral-imitation passages in these colorful pieces. Using the ProLogic IIx height setting on my mutichannel decoder produced an excellent soundfield with the disc, and my Oppo deck includes HDCD decoding, which is subtle but does make a slight improvement in the fidelity over the standard CD or without decoding.


1. WIDOR: Allegro from Symphony No. 6 in G minor, Op. 42
2. SCHMITT: Prière from Prélude in G minor, Op. 11 (premiere)
3. ALAIN: Deux danses à Agni Yavishta
4. BONNET: Variations de Concert, Op. 1
5. DURUFLÉ: Scherzo, Op. 2
6. DUPRÉ: Prélude et Fugue in G minor Op. 7
7. FRANK: Pièce héroïque
8. GUILMANT: Caprice in B flat Major Op. 20
9. VIERNE: Prelude, Caprice & Intermezzo from Pièces de fantaisie, Suite No. 1
10. GIGOUT: Grand-Choeur Dialogué

—John Sunier

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