So after the last post you were probably begging me to tell you what is the best CD recording I own of St. Ouen? Right? Sure you were. I’m going to tell you anyway…
Best? Ok, how about a few of the good ones? (with an instrument this good, it’s hard to choose…) Here we go! (we’re going to go with a 5-star rating system!)
Jan Mulder a l’orgue Cavaillé-Coll, St. Ouen, Rouen
~Dutch performer Jan Mulder performs various works by French composers.
So on this disc are some “typical” repertoire pieces. However what lead me to purchase the CD in the first place was hearing the first track on Pipedreams. I’ve never heard of Fernand de la Tombelle before, but his Toccata is one of my favorites.
The rest of the disc features more toccatas and a few others. Another of my favorite pieces is the “Final” from Alexander Guilmant’s Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op 42. Great piece of music almost in a toccata like style and Jan Mulder plays it very well. Actually there isn’t anything on this disc he doesn’t play really well! One piece of music that I NEVER cease to appreciate is César Frank’s Choral No. 2 in B minor. One of the aspects I love about the work itself is the emotion. And I love nothing more than the start of a piece that builds up to a full crescendo, but then backs off again and closes quietly. This piece does just that. And the full organ sound of the Cavaillé-Coll is just stunning.
As to the recording… really good! the sound is great, showing off the splendid acoustics but not at the expense of being able to hear the notes with clarity.
I would highly recommend this CD! Besides, Jan Mulder ends the program with an improvisation, where I think he shows off the fact that not only can he play a piece well, but he can improvise with the best of them… And the tune he chooses is fun! KIDS would love it, and adults would smile a bit at it as well!
WIDORIADE: Symphonies pour orgue, Charles-Marie Widor
~Dutchman Herman Van Vliet plays the organ Symphonies of Charles-Marie Widor on various Cavaillé-Coll instruments.
Now I have to warn you I’m a bit biased. See… the problem is that Charles-Marie Widor is probably my most favorite composer of the French Romantics. So When you combine that with the fact that 6 of the ten Symphonies are performed on the organ at St. Ouen… AND it doesn’t help that the two symphonies that I like the most are played at St. Ouen… Well I think you get the picture…
For those of you who’ve taken the time to read “Background to this blog” you already know that one of the first things in my CD collection was all of Widor’s symphonies, and wondering where these came from. I bought them! Last year! and I have not regretted it. What sets these apart from the CD’s by Ben van Oosten (‘nother Dutchman) is a bit of the interpretation, but more so… the recording.
The Van Vliet recordings (Festivo) are so much clearer than the van Oosten recordings (MD&G). I bought the MD&G recordings back in college. So those are the recordings I listened to for YEARS. Believe me, when I listened to the Festivo recordings it was like fresh air, falling in love all over again. I literally did that. I fell in love with these symphonies all over again. What really made the difference was listening to “Allegro” from Symphony No. 6 in G minor, Op. 42/2. This is probably my most favorite piece by Widor. The clarity of this recording enabled me to hear things and notes I haven’t heard before. Part of that has to do with performance as well as the recording technique. I find Van Vliet’s playing much more calculated, (without being strict) but he plays much in the same technique that Widor taught! Through this performance the music is able to shine all the more and take a life of its own. It doesn’t fell rushed, or pushed or the opposite – understated…
The Cavaillé-Coll at St. Ouen is used for the following:
Disc 1 Symphonie I en do mineur Op. 13/1 & Symphonie II en ré majeur Op. 13/2
Disc 2 Symphonie IV en fa mineur Op. 13/4
Disc 1 Symphonie V en fa mineur Op. 42/1 & Symphonie VI en sol mineur Op. 42/2
Disc 2 Symphonie Gothique Op. 70
~[yet another] Dutchman Peter Eilander plays Christmas music by French composers in St. Ouen, Rouen.
Ok, Here is a sonic delight! The opening track “Fantaisie sur le Chant de Noël ‘Adeste Fideles’ connu aussi sous le nom de Hymne Portugals” by Jules Grison, is the perfect way to start this CD, and one on this particular instrument! Now many of you are staring at the title to that piece saying to your self, “whatever…” but let me clarify. Fantasy on the theme that we commonly know as “O Come All Ye Faithful.” This piece is basically a fantasy set of variations and it also takes a nice tonal “tour” of the organ. I could talk about all the other pieces as well, but I feel I really don’t need to. This recording has great microphone placement and is just a tremendous listen. If you were to listen to this, you’d need a good set of speakers, particularly when full organ is played and the 32′ Contre-Bombarde kicks in along with the Trompette-en-Chamades!
Another bonus is the “bonus” (2nd) CD in which Eilander plays Christmas music by his fellow Dutch composers. A RARE treat! Even if it is only 4 tracks of music, you have NO IDEA how rare it is to find DUTCH-written organ music. Combine that with the organ… It’s like a candy cane! (ok, that was bad)
ANYWAY… I’d tell you where to purchase, but sadly, you can hardly find this album ANYWHERE… In fact, I got this from my wife for Christmas a few years back and she received a “backordered” notice. April arrived and so did my CD. And now the site she got it from doesn’t even list this anymore… Sorry…
Ok… Now we get to the good one…
7 Stars! (yup in a 5 star rating system)
~Daniel Roth plays works by French composers as well as two of his own pieces.
Ok. First off let me say, that JAV recordings makes some of the BEST (did you hear me?), BEST organ recordings in the business… And you PAY for that fact too… They’re expensive, no, they’re ridiculous, but if your willing to splurge every now and then, the reward is worth it! This CD is absolutely the BEST recording I have of the organ at St. Ouen.
This CD features Daniel Roth who is the titular organist of St. Sulpice in Paris. (more on that organ and Daniel Roth later) Daniel Roth is a wonderful performer. Since purchasing this cd, I’ve purposefully sought out other recordings by Roth. Well here he presents an interesting program. He opens with a piece to raise the roof and the CD just gets better and better… There are two pieces here by French-WOman Nadia Boulanger that are delightful. I wish I could learn the Prélude in F minor.
What this CD does through the wonderful recording is much the same as what Van Vliet’s recordings of Widor’s Symphonies did.* Presented here are some of the works of Louis Vierne, and some pieces I was never a fan of. Until this recording. I’ve fallen in love with Vierne’s “Cathédrales” from his Pièces De Fantasie, Op.54. That work is very fitting for the setting of this album!
I’ve only recently “discovered” the music of Jehan Alain and am really enjoying it. Roth presents two selections here for our enjoyment.
I’ve also have never been a fan of the music of Olivier Messian – still am not – but I do appreciate his music. And sometimes I’m in the mood to listen to it, but I have to be in that mood. But his “Apparition De l’Église Éternelle” is quite an interesting work. I believe Roth started out this piece on the Récit (swell) with all its stops and the shutters closed. And Slowly this piece builds to a full Crescendo and then back again to the closed Récit. On this organ… a marvelous effect owing to it’s really big Récit division.
Roth’s own works here are a delight. I’m not one for some modern music but his music (rightfully) is at home on this Instrument. Not surprising given the fact that Roth presides over that other Cavaillé-Coll masterpiece in St. Sulpice. But Roth’s two works presented here very much have an improvisatory feel to them. I like that!
Now for why this is 7 stars and not 10 (out of a 5 star rating system)… Sadly, this album is also an SACD (Super Audio CD) with a layer added of Daniel Roth giving a tonal “tour” of the organ. I say “sadly” because I do not have anything capable of playing an SACD, so I have not heard that. Wish they had just thrown it on a “bonus” disc. If you don’t have any way of listening to it, you can… purchase it via iTunes, but given the price of the CD TO BEGIN WITH it’s like buying a second ablum. Like I said, I don’t know why they didn’t just throw it on a separate CD…
In spite of that, I HIGHLY recommend this album. If there was only ONE album that you could own that was recorded on the organ at St. Ouen, this one is the first choice. Head over to JAV recordings and check out this album, and many of their other phenomenal recordings.
*(If only JAV Recordings would team up with Daniel Roth again and do Widor’s Symphonies AT St. Suplice, where Widor was organist of, Now that would be something. IF only…)