> Pascale Rouet -organ ADW7415 [PW]: Classical Reviews- April 2002 MusicWeb-International

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1. Bernado Storace Balleto 240"
2. Giovanni Picchi Ballo alla Polaccha 210"
3. Ballo hongaro 226"
4. Ballo todescha 120"
5. Passe e mezzo 405"
6. Bernado Storace Folia 437"
7. Anon. Estampie 628"
8. Bernado Storace Chaconne 712"
9. Anon. Intabulata Nova (9 danses) 808"
10. Bernado Storace Passacaille 1223"
11. Pierre Attaignant 6 Danses 721"
12. Bernado Storace Spagnoletta 430"
13. Béla Bartók Danse ruthène & 5 danses
populaire Roumaines 614"
Pascale Rouet
Recordings made on the Christophe Moucherel organ (1725 - rebuilt by Barthelémy Formentelli 1991) in the church of the Abbey of Our Lady of Mouzon on 2 & 3 July 1990
PAVANE ADW 7415 [7038"]


Experience Classicsonline

French organs are known for their distinctive ability to produce the widest range of colours. Where organ builders of the 17th century German and Netherlandish schools concentrated on the melding of each of the separate divisions of an organ into a blended and powerful unit, with a few solo stops added, and English 19th century organ builders preferred the thicker orchestral imitations so characteristic of Willis or Harrison, French instruments have always placed emphasis on the individual timbres of stops. This was a feature of 17th and 18th century French organs that was resurrected in the 19th century by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll when creating the great instruments such as that in Notre Dame de Paris. This characteristic makes French organs some of the most enjoyable to hear, and the most suitable for recording in a varied programme on CD. The organist on this disc, Pascale Rouet, has been raised in this French tradition, culminating in her winning the first prize at the Toulouse International Contemporary Organ Competition in 1986. Since 1991 she has been the organiste titulaire of the Abbey of Mouzon and clearly knows the instrument well. Arguing that the organ started out as a secular instrument she makes a reasonable argument for the performance of dance music upon it, although it is debatable in the extreme whether a work like the Robertsbridge Codex from which comes the anonymous estampie of track 7 would have been played on an instrument any larger than a couple of ranks - certainly not on a large 18th century organ. Either way she plays the music with enough flair and conviction to allow the secularisation of the Abbey church to be momentarily put out of mind.

The main body of the programme is taken up with music by Bernado Storace. Unjustly neglected, this is wonderfully invigorating music that places Storace firmly at the beginnings of the Italian baroque. The great chaconne on track 8 (sample 1) could easily run the risk of monotony, so short and memorable is its chaconne theme. Rouets performance is brisk (maybe a touch too brisk) and forceful in that the variation of registration is limited to pleno throughout. However, her facility and clarity of articulation make for a tremendous sense of forward drive, which is exciting. At the other extreme, the delicate balleto with which the programme opens, and the four dances of Giovanni Picchi, show individual stops illustrating the subtle side of this fine organ. (sample 2) Rather strangely, the programme ends with a transcription of Bartóks Rumanian folk dances. This is apparently just because Rouet likes them. Thats a fair enough reason, but the sudden gear change from the baroque to the 20th century is unprepared and not entirely successful, although the playing is impressive. (sample 3)

The most amusement of the programme comes, once again, from the dismal translation of the booklet notes. In this instance gems such as "Bartók dances, drewed from Rumanian folklore, seemed to me not so far from the spirit of irridescents musics, also popular, coming rigth (sic.) from the past" Do it? Do it really? Of course it is impolite to moan about peoples bad English, but the notes are meant to be there to illustrate the music, not to provide obfuscation. In this case the unfortunate translator is one Michel Dehaye, who also turns out to be the organ tuner. Pavane on the cheap here methinks... Of the Chaconne, M. Dehaye manages "Very closed from Passacaille, the Chacony is nearly the same model. Mattheson precise that his tempo is rather slowly than those of Passacailles. We must mention here the magnificents Chaconies by H. Purcell." Why? None of them are played, and nothing further is said about them. In fact, the notes in French are by Pascale Rouet herself, and bear no resemblance to this banal undergraduate effort. And one can hardly blame poor Mattheson if his tempo is a little bit rather slowly - hes been dead for 238 years.

Peter Wells



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