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Eugène GIGOUT (1844-1925)
Marche Réligieuse en Mi bémol Majeur [3’32]
Dix Pièces pour orgue ou piano-pédalier:

Prélude-Choral et Allegro [8’35]
Minuetto [4’33]
Marche Funèbre [7’30]
Toccata [3’26]
Andante Religioso [5’39]
Rhapsodie dur des Noëls [7’34]
Offertoire ou Communion en trio [3’46]
Scherzo [4’48]
Antienne dans le mode phrygien ecclésiastique [1’26]
Sortie sur l’antienne "Adoremus en Aeternum" [3’30]
From 100 pièces

Pièce No 94 en si mineur [1’07]
Pièce No 24 en ré mineur [2’17]
From ‘L’Album Grégorien’

Pièce No 83
From 100 pièces

Pièce No 76 en la mineur [0’57]
Pièce No 64 en sol mineur [1’50]
Didier Matry, organ
Rec: St Augustin, Paris, October 2004. DDD
CALLIOPE CAL 9938 [62’42]

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Eugène Gigout is a composer you are unlikely to have come across unless you have been condemned to be an organist. For those of us unlucky enough to have been afflicted, Gigout is the composer of precisely three pieces, a Toccata, a Scherzo and a Grand Choeur Dialogué, the latter much beloved of British organists with loud Tuba stops.

Today Gigout’s compositional output in general is receiving more attention, not least from the British organist Gerard Brooks whose recordings of Gigout’s music, (on French organs!), have received much acclaim. More significantly than his compositions though, Gigout occupies a fascinating place as a pedagogue, most notably as a link between two composers you non-organists have heard of, both of whom nonetheless were organists at the fashionable church of La Madeleine. Gigout was a student of Saint-Saëns, and a teacher of Fauré.

Apart from his activities as a composer and teacher, Gigout occupied an organ bench not far from Madeleine, at the imposing church of St Augustin, for no fewer than 62 years. Fitting then that the present-day incumbent Didier Matry, should seek to honour his illustrious predecessor with the present recording.

The organ in St Augustin is a large (3/53) Cavaillé-Coll rebuild of an earlier organ by Charles Barker; he of the Barker lever. Ironically Barker built the organ using an early form of electric action and the organ didn’t receive Barker levers until Cavaillé-Coll rebuilt it. While it is very difficult to tell from the present uncomfortably close recording, the Mixtures do seem rather more prominent than is usual with Cavaillé-Coll. Whether this is due to changes made by Beuchet in the 1960, (at least partially reversed), or the over-riding character of Barker’s original instrument is impossible to determine from the recording alone.

I have to admit to being disappointed in general with the remainder of Gigout’s Dix Pièces (from which the Toccata and Scherzo come); most are too long, too repetitive, and rather square. Perhaps the pieces most commonly played are indeed the most interesting; the sometimes-played Rhapsodie sur des Noëls is tawdry to say the least, one of those improvisations that should have stayed as such. On the other had I can’t help feeling that Matry, a one time student of Odile Pierre and his immediate predecessor Suzanne Chaisemartin, could have made more of the little-known material. His playing is good, but no more; I longed for more flexibility in the phrasing, and more long line - Gigout writes slurs of four or more bars everywhere in his music. A Ben van Oosten figure might have convinced me of the music’s merits.

The booklet is excellent with interesting photos, organ history, and an interesting essay on Gigout by Didier Matry. Unfortunately the production is let down by some amateurish editing, for example at track 2 (4’29) and track 7 (1’13).

Chris Bragg

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