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Loïc MALLIÉ (b. 1947)
Jeux - Improvisations on themes of Debussy

Autour de Debussy [16'50]
Prelude, Fugue et final [4'53], [4'36], [4'35]
Anthologie, la Grotte, Contraste [5'33] [4'22]
Clins d'Oeil [1'44], [2'55], [3'26], [5'13]
Jeux [6'25]
Final [6'27]
Loïc Maille, organ
Rec. Saint Vaast de Bailleul, September 2003. DDD


Loïc Mallié follows up his breathtaking Retour de Bayreuth with his tribute to Claude Debussy. In this instance we gain a little more insight into Mallié's mindset through the interesting, if slightly puzzling interview with the player. This forms a large part of the programme notes but I have a feeling that it loses something in translation.

Mallié offers so much here, yet the final result is confusing. For a start the number of tracks listed on the inlay do not correlate with the actual number of tracks on the disc. This makes following the, nominally six, multi-sectional improvisations a real challenge. As if that weren't enough, no fewer than 27 themes are printed in the booklet. Good idea you might think, but some are not by Debussy; doubtless there is a very logical reason for their inclusion, but Mr Mallié isn't telling us what it is. Other themes are used which aren't listed. The Prelude and Fugue is, Mallié tells us, based on the Passepied from Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, but this theme doesn't appear. There are also very obvious themes from Children’s Corner not listed. Perhaps the booklet is best ignored?

Now the good things. Mallié's other-worldly whirlwind of ideas picks up from where Retour left off. Here there is more evidence of his association with Messiaen; Mallié studied with him in the Paris Conservatory. This can be heard both harmonically, and, perhaps most obviously, in his ability to establish that most Messiaenic trade-mark, the creation of music that is both static and ecstatic simultaneously. I find, in general, the improvisations here are less succinct and seductive than on the Wagner disc, although the Prelude, Fugue and Final especially is wonderful. Perhaps the organ doesn't help. Hortus tell us nothing except that it is a 1933 creation of Victor Gonzales. The lack of photo and specification at least is criminal! It sounds rather small, perhaps thirty stops, a sort of miniature Soissons perhaps. Not incidentally that it has the noisiest combination action I've ever heard on a CD.

I'm left with mixed feelings overall; this would be so recommendable if it wasn't for the superlative quality of Retour de Bayreuth which this never quite reaches, and the uninformative and misleading booklet.

Chris Bragg

The Hortus catalogue

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