JEAN-FRANÇOIS TAPRAY (1737?-1819?): Six Concertos for Organ – Dominique Ferran, historic organ at Abbey St.-Croix, Bordeaux/ Ensemble Baroque de Nice/Gilbert Bezzina – K617 K617079, 66:23 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
This is exactly the sort of recording that took place with seemingly great regularity when the French classical music industry was awakening in the ’70s when it coalesced around the rise of Harmonia mundi and other adventurous, passionate and informed French labels which were to make a tremendous contribution to the growth of the North American market for early music, pure audiophile sound and classical music generally.
This reissue of a landmark 1997 recording, celebrating the restoration of a famous French organ, has many of the prime ingredients those labels would have been proud of: Raucous Baroque organ playing of music by an obscure composer whose six concertos chug along very pleasantly in a mock-rustic style with occasional outbursts of hilarity–all that is missing are bird whistles. As they are played here, totally from the heart and with unforced tonal innocence, the results are quite charming.
The star of it all is the monster 16-foot-stops organ, built in 1748; it is the largest extant instrument by the famous French organ builder Dom Bedos de Celles. After a major restoration by Pascal Quoirin, including the case as well as the instrument with its 14 reed stops and 23 ranks of mixtures, the organ was completed in May 1997, and was the occasion for this exuberant recording which celebrates the time in which the organ was built with music of that time. All combined take full advantage of the reedy color and charismatic energy, including subtle work in the lower registers. Check out track 3—”Presto Tambourin”—and you’ll see right away whether you’re hooked.
Inspired and Inspiring…