One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             




Sounds Parisian
Naji HAKIM (b.1955)
Le Tombeau d’Olivier Messiaen (Par ma vie, par ma mort [6’33]; Je rends grace à mon Dieu [6’25]; Christ avec le Saint-Esprit [6’02])
Vexilla Regis Prodeunt
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Apparition de l’Eglise éternelle [9’53]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Messe Basse pour les enfants défunts: (Prélude [5’33]; Introit [4’43]; Offertoire [5’49]; Elevation [2’14]; Communion [5’59]; Défilé [9’33])
David Bednall, organ
rec. Blackburn Cathedral, 31 May- 2 June 2004


The title ‘French’ Organ Music is not strictly correct as Naji Hakim was born in Lebanon, although France has been his adopted country for many years. The programme opens with his three movement Le Tombeau d’Olivier Messiaen and closes with Vexilla Regis Prodeunt. In between are Messiaen’s Apparition de l’Eglise éternelle and Vierne’s six movement Messe Basse pour les enfants défunts. Hakim is well known as an organist-composer-improviser and succeeded Messiaen at La Trinité in 1993. Le Tombeau d’Olivier Messiaen was premiered by Hakim at La Trinité in 1993 and is a 20 minute work which incorporates melodic and harmonic ideas of Messiaen. The first movement has a strong feel of Dieu parmi nous, has some unusual registrations and is a real tour-de-force. It is well played with panache and energy. The second movement also has exotic coloration and quotes from Les Offrandes Oubliées. It is generally quieter and musically more calm, before making-way for the shattering opening of the final movement, quoting from the Trois Petites Liturgies and Harawi. Like the first movement and the Final from the Hommage à Igor Stravinski, the dance flies along at a frightening pace with huge vigour and a relentless quality. For me some of the music is like written -down improvisation - perhaps that’s what it is. In any case, it is very well presented by David Bednall. The eleven minute Vexilla Regis is through-composed with several distinct sections which refer musically to the seven stanzas of the text of this hymn to the Holy Cross for the vespers of Passion Sunday. A wide variety of registrations provide some relief from the power of tutti, and musically the piece has some strong moments.

Messiaen’s Apparition de l’Eglise éternelle sounds very well on the Blackburn instrument, an organ having gained a few new stops à la Notre-Dame thanks to the consultancy of David Briggs. Vierne’s Messe Basse pour les enfants défunts was his last work, and much of the anguish of his life is reflected in music which is frequently sombre and poignant. David Bednall finds appropriately ‘French’ registrations on the Blackburn organ perhaps by lots of coupling-up. Only the voix humaine is rather out of tune. Vierne’s musical language had become very chromatic by this stage in his life. The Prélude has a mood like the Prélude of the First Symphony: emotionally highly charged, not rising above mezzo forte, and ending on the subdued voix humaine registration and a dark C sharp minor chord. The Introit which follows is calm like the Berceuse from the Pièces en style libre, with a gentle development of the opening motivic ideas. Sensitively played, it is musically interesting and has a single affekt throughout. The Offertoire is in ternary form and is another dark and sombre piece, with reeds mixed in with the fonds. It is musically less developed and precedes the Elevation, a short movement where the tension of the previous music is released into a much needed stillness. The Communion is beautiful, a rich flute-dominated fonds and a major key! A typical Vierne Adagio, it has good forward movement. The closing Défilé has a wide range of ideas and moods, with another calm Berceuse as the central section. The loud closing section using material from the beginning finally gives way to a pianissimo conclusion on C sharp minor. A fine recording.

Graham Mark Scott


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.