> Les Plus Beaux Noëls aux Orgues de Moselle [JW]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Les Plus Beaux Noëls aux Orgues de Moselle - Improvisation
John BULL (1562-1608)

Ein Kindeken is ons geborn
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)

Wie Schon leuchtet der Morgenstern
J S BACH (1685-1750)

Christmas Chorales BWV 602-611
Louis Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772)

Carol Suisse
Noel en tierce en taille
Claude BALBASTRE (1727-1799)

Noel Bourguignon
Joseph est bon marie
Organs played by Michel Chapuis (Improvisation, Balbastre), Etienne Baillot (Bull), Martin Gester (Buxtehude), Norbert Petry (Bach), Laurent Beyhurst (first Daquin), Jean Paul Serra (second Daquin)
Recorded various locations in the Moselle May, September and October 1990
K617008 [47.58]
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I must have been unlucky. There were no notes with this CD and so I can’t relate much about the nature of the range of organs from the Moselle used in this recording – though they come from Metz, Saint-Quirin, Sarralbe, Virming, Fenetrange and Saint-Avold. Nor can I say anything of the fine organists. The disc’s raison d’être is to present organ music from the Moselle in Christmas repertoire – mainly Baroque – and it does so, it must be said, with considerable élan.

I was immediately taken with the charming opening Improvisation - by organist Michael Chapuis himself? - with its elfin and charming flute registration and also its touchingly modest bass. We can encounter more of the same in the John Bull piece where there is never a hint of aggressive registration or over-inflated rhetoric, though arguably it does rather stint on the inherent wit of the piece. Virming’s organ, played by Martin Gester, employs shimmering and glassy registrations, fluty and insubstantial, and marvellously attractive in the Buxtehude. In the Bach cycle, BWV 602-611, played on the Sarralbe organ Norbert Petry employs a very wide registration range, from the elfin to the nasal or a delightful synthesis of the two in BWV606 or, as in BWV 608, In dulci jubilo clothing the settings in unabashed grandeur. These are modest settings, hovering around the two-minute mark and a fitting centrepiece of this well-balanced recital.

Daquin is a composer more encountered than heard and we should hear more of him. The Swiss Carol gathers itself in an increasingly dramatic ascent, in amplitude and dynamics whereas the Noel en tierce en taille is a reflective piece and shows the more withdrawn and inward looking side of his musical imagination. Balbastre’s Noel Bourguignon is imaginative and freely moving with a sinuously mobile bass line and the recital ends, in Saint-Quirn, with the same composer’s Joseph est bien marie with its splendidly and incrementally cumulative nobility of utterance, which ends in reminiscent simplicity all the more effective for its unexpectedness. Despite the lack of notes and the very short playing time – 48 minutes this is an enjoyable and rewarding disc.

Jonathan Woolf  


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