Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Organ Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 13, No. 1: V. Marche
Organ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 13, No. 2: IV. Salve
Organ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 13, No. 4: III. Andante
Organ Symphony No. 3 in E minor, Op. 13, No. 3: V. Finale:
Allegro molto [07:29]
Trois nouvelles pièces, Op. 87: No. 2. Mystique [05:17]
Bach's Memento (excerpts): IV. March du Vielleur de Nuit
(arr. of J.S. Bach's Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV
645) [03:54]; V. Sicilienne (arr. of J.S. Bach's Flute Sonata
in E flat major, BWV 1031: (II. Siciliano) [03:20])
Organ Symphony No. 6 in G minor, Op. 42, No. 2: I. Allegro
Symphonie gothique, Op. 70: II. Andante sostenuto [05:35]
Organ Symphony No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42, No. 1 (I. Allegro
vivace [11:25]; II. Adagio [05:39]; III. Toccata: Allegro
rec. St Cecilia Catholic Cathedral, Omaha, Nebraska, 20-22
September 2006. DDD
NAXOS 8.570310 [81:01]
is a good potpourri-style introduction to the organ works
of Charles-Marie Widor. Too often he is of course only remembered
for the infamous Toccata from the end of the fifth symphony,
all too frequently so poorly played. Good then for the general
music enthusiast to have a budget price introduction to some
other corners of the Widor oeuvre many of which deserve to
be better known than the Toccata. The implication however,
that Naxos’s vast Organ Encyclopaedia isn’t going to include
a complete Widor cycle strikes me as particularly unfortunate.
This is especially true given that Naxos’s library does include
a complete Rheinberger cycle.
most interesting element of this disc though is the choice
of instrument. I wrote in glowing terms here about Martin
Pasi’s extraordinary dual-temperament instrument in Omaha
in the context of Julia
Brown’s Buxtehude recording.
That was recorded – mostly,
I think - in meantone using the 28 stops of the organ available
in that temperament. Perhaps more of a challenge to these
historically-informed super-eclectic American organs is how
they handle repertoire such as that on the present recording.
It makes for fascinating listening!
I’m honest, some of the sounds here are not sounds one associates
with the world of Widor. However only occasionally - the
mixture at the beginning of track 2 for instance - does an
aesthetic clash wander into one’s consciousness enough for
it to be uncomfortable. Other idiosyncrasies - the flexible
winding – surely there could be a more effective stabiliser
for this sort of repertoire - and even the pure thirds in
the well-tempered tuning - listen to those big C major chords
in the Marche Pontificale! - maybe take a little getting
used to, but I managed. The overriding impression of this
disc is of an organ of simply enormous panache and personality.
The warmth of the 8’ stops, the effectiveness of the swell
box, the sheer grunt of the pedal reeds – all are extraordinary.
Pasi’s organ doesn’t really evoke Rouen, but it is a work
of sheer brilliance. To quote the late, great Stephen Bicknell: “the
work of Brombaugh, Fritts, Pasi, Taylor and Boody and even
Fritts-Richards operates at a level of artistic quality that
simply does not apply in Europe any more, despite the beacons
offered by, say, Ahrend and Aubertin.” He wasn’t wrong.
organ seems to inspire Robert Delcamp to better performances
than I’ve enjoyed on his previous Naxos discs - on much lesser
instruments. Occasionally still a little ‘square’, his flair
for French repertoire is undeniable, and I can therefore
recommend this is as a highly enjoyable, and, thanks to the
organ, rather remarkable release.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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