Telarc is doing much
the same as its competitors by re-issuing
its older recordings at a lower price.
This is a real bargain, as it is not
a straight re-issue but a combination
of two original CDs on to one. Allied
to the superb recording, typical of
this company, we have excellent value
engineers went in search of a local
organ which sounded as much like a Cavaillé-Coll
instrument as possible. This is the
type of instrument Saint-Saëns
had in mind while writing the work.
They found it in a local Philadelphia
church and after much collaboration
between the company, church authorities
and local government, the organ was
found, overhauled and re-voiced, additional
electrical circuits installed and the
roads around the church closed whilst
the recording was being made. Given
all of this effort, it is not surprising
that Telarc would want to engage Ormandy
with his orchestra (in the last year
of his Music Directorship with the orchestra),
together with the company’s main organ
soloist; a very successful partnership
it was too.
The Symphony brings
to mind Ormandy’s very successful CBS
recording (now on Sony) but, with Telarc,
in much, much better sound quality.
The playing of soloist and orchestra
is beyond criticism and is a very satisfying
reading altogether. Orchestra and soloist
play as one and the warm acoustic of
the church with the orchestra set back
a little, allow the blending and tonal
splendour to make a telling effect.
When the organ adds to the proceedings,
it is not as interloper but it is sufficiently
present to give a thrilling end to one
of music’s most impressive finales.
To fill the rest of
the disc, Michael Murray moved from
Philadelphia to Boston, where, in charge
of the Symphony Hall organ, he recorded
a recital of French organ encores. He
has traversed almost the whole of the
span of French music, from the 1600s
to almost the present day (no Alain
or Messiaen was recorded, and how on
earth can J. S. Bach be classified as
French unless it is the arranger - Marcel
Dupré who takes all the credit).
Once again, the recording
quality is superb, and although there
is not much deep musical experience
here, this is more due to the choice
of repertoire than any shortcoming in
the playing or recording.
Boston’s Symphony Hall
has one of the finest acoustics of all
halls, and the engineers have caught
This disc is superb,
and I have enjoyed listening to it again
and again since receiving it for review.