The idea of coupling
the organ works of Saint-Saëns
with the Motets is a good one I think;
Saint-Saëns' organ music is not
of a consistently high enough quality
to make one necessarily want to listen
through entire CDs of it. In the first
of Hortus's offerings Saint-Saëns'
relationship with Liszt is explored
by organist Vincent Genvrin and the
Latvian choir Sacrum.
The choice of Riga
Cathedral's mammoth Walcker organ may
seem a curious one for this repertoire.
However, Saint-Saëns' music is
less Cavaillé-Coll specific than
the music of most of his Parisian contemporaries,
(Franck is of course far more specific
in his registrations, for instance).
Musically speaking, much of his music,
and especially the pieces inspired by
Liszt, is rather Germanic - the Fugues
for instance. Genvrin points out in
his interesting programme note that
Saint-Saëns played often in Germany,
and was an admirer of Merklin, the most
Germanically-inspired of the French
builders of the time. It must be said
that the Riga organ pulls off the challenge
very well; despite its background it
is large enough to contain enough reeds
and other essential colours needed for
the music. And, when an impossible registration
is called for in the transcription of
Liszt's La Prédication,
Genvrin moves to La Madeleine.....
of Soissons Cathedral, and a former
student of the late Jean Boyer, plays
with a marvellously unforced musicality
throughout. Only in the rather laborious
op 157 Fantaisie did I find something
lacking - one has to use more imagination
to bring this piece off the page I think
- perhaps the outer sections could be
more fluid? On the other hand the Liszt
transcription is wonderfully atmospheric.
The singing by the
Latvian choir is good, but not exceptional.
The effect of the distantly recorded
Liszt Ave Maria is enchanting however,
and the way in which the atmosphere
and key are continued in the following
Prelude et Fugue is very clever.
Hortus have made here
a spacious and attractive recording
at both venues. It is a shame that,
given the undeniably interesting organs
here recorded, no description or photos