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Claudio MERULO (1533 – 1604)

Régis CAMPO (b. 1968)

Capriccio (2003)
Sonnerie (2002)
Louis COUPERIN (1626 – 1661)

Fantaisie des duretez
Edith CANAT DE CHIZY (b. 1950)

Véga (1999)
Brice PAUSET (b. 1965)

Six Pièces pour orgue (excerpts)
Nicolas de GRIGNY (1672 – 1703)

Hymne Pange Lingua
Gérard PESSON (b. 1958)

Etudes pour orgue (1998)
Bruno MANTOVANI (b. 1974)

Aussi... (2003)
Jean-Christophe Revel at the Jean de Joyeuse organ of the Cathédrale Sainte Marie d’Auch
Recorded: Cathédrale Sainte Marie, Auch, October-November 2003
AEON AECD 0420 [73:41]


The Cathédrale Sainte Marie d’Auch possesses the only surviving baroque great organ built by Jean de Joyeuse between 1688 and 1694. The instrument underwent a number of restorations, first in about1820 (by Jeandel), in 1870, in 1954-1958 (by Victor Gonzalez under the guidance of Norbert Dufourcq) and finally in 1992-1998. The instrument was then restored as faithfully as possible to Jean de Joyeuse’s specifications. Jean-Christophe Revel, presently the permanent organist at Auch Cathedral, has devised this programme, that confronts works from the Classical period (Claudio Merulo, Louis Couperin and Nicolas de Grigny) particularly well suited to this instrument and recent pieces by present-day French composers. Most contemporary pieces heard here were written for Revel and this very instrument.

Campo’s Capriccio and Sonnerie, completed in 2003 and 2002 respectively, are short sequels to some of his more ambitious organ works, such as Livre de sonates (1997-1999) and his First Symphony for organ and orchestra first performed by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano. These lovely miniatures brilliantly achieve what their titles suggest with a most refreshing lightness of touch. Works such as these should be in every organist’s repertoire.

I have already enthusiastically reviewed two other discs of Edith Canat de Chizy’s music [June 2002] [April 2003], so that I now welcome the opportunity to hear more of it. Véga was composed with the Jean de Joyeuse organ in mind, although the composer also gives alternative registrations for a more classical organ, so that the version heard here is just one of several possible versions of the piece. I hasten to say that it works marvellously well, but I would like to hear it once on a more traditional instrument. This piece, completed in 1999, was inspired by a poem by Jaccotet dedicated to Henry Purcell. The title Véga alludes to the star of that name, and the music appropriately suggests some mysterious, other-worldly spheres.

We are given only four (viz. the first four actually) of Pauset’s Six Pièces pour orgue (we are not told when these were composed). The composer mentions that he was particularly interested by "mixtures" while writing these pieces that are all fairly short, but very contrasted, exploiting the whole expressive range of the instrument and often full of arresting or at times intriguing sonorities. However, there is nothing experimental at all about this subtly expressive music that often brings Messiaen to mind. A pity, though, that the whole set was not recorded.

Gérard Pesson’s Etudes pour orgue baroque were written for the inauguration of the organ in Auch after its last restoration. Incidentally, the third étude Tombeau de Luigi Nono (the longest one) is not included here, so that we are left with La discrète, in which "the organ becomes a gently sighing giant, as if sleeping peacefully" (Pesson’s words), and the brief, rather enigmatic Fanfare, both exploiting some unexpected possibilities of this instrument, such as half-drawn stops, resulting in some beguiling sounds. On the whole, the music here may at first sound more experimental than it actually is.

The last contemporary work is Aussi... by Bruno Mantovani. (The title is a pun on the name of the city of Auch, which in German means "aussi" ["also"].) Mantovani’s music, too, is refreshingly free of any musical dogmatism. In an earlier review of some of his works, I mentioned Turnage as a point of comparison, for both composers are neither afraid nor ashamed of letting some popular elements, such as jazz, slip into their music. Aussi... is an attractive, fanciful and joyfully inhibited piece of music and a splendid conclusion to this interesting and fascinating release, superbly played by Revel and well recorded. The production is up to Aeon’s best standards again. Well worth investigating, definitely not for organ buffs only.

Hubert Culot


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