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Les Corps Glorieux - Music for Harp, Organ & Violoncello
Henri BUSSËR (1872-1973)
Le sommeil de l:enfant Jésus op. 3 [8:28]
Marcel GRANDJANY (1891-1975)
Aria in Classic Style for Harp and Organ op. 19 (1944) [5:51]
Camillo SCHUMANN (1872-1946)
Präludium in b minor op. 123 No. 2 [7:13]
Recitativ und Adagio op. 9 (1898) [4:36]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Prière op. 158 (1919) [4:53]
Ester MAGI (b. 1922)
Dialog: Prelude with Choral [7:31] Chris DeBLASIO (1959-1993) transc. Drake
God is our Righteousness (1992) [8:33]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
La Vierge: Le dernier sommeil de la Vierge (1877/78) [3:46]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Concerto in B flat op. 4 No. 6: (i) Andante Allegro [4:21]; ii) Larghetto [4:21]; iii) Allegro moderato [2:44])
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Les Corps glorieux: No 6 Joie et clarté (1939) [7:26]
Nancianne Parrella (organ)
Victoria Drake (harp)
Arthur Fiacco, (cello)
rec. St Ignatius Loyola, New York City, 26, 27, 31 January 2005. DDD
MSR CLASSICS MS 1143 [75:42]

There is an obvious danger when combining the organ with a cello, which was amply demonstrated by a Festivo disc I reviewed here last year (see review), namely that it fast becomes a collection of pretty tunes with the organ left to waffle in the background. Add a harp and a further danger is added; the organ waffles, the cello plays pretty tunes and the harp plays pretty arpeggios.
From the first pretty piece of Bussër on this collection from St Ignatius Loyola in New York you know you're going to be in for a lot of this sort of thing. Grandjany's Aria in Classic Style, one of very few original compositions for organ and harp, is similarly tunefully uneventful. Camillo Schumann, who trained in Leipzig - with C.H. Reinecke if memory serves - wrote six substantial organ sonatas. His two offerings here are printed back to front in the booklet. The Recitative quotes, or just steals, the opening of Rossini's overture to William Tell. The slightly acerbic harmonic language of Louie White makes a welcome break from the late-Romantic slush. The programme would perhaps have been improved from the point of view of both variety and originality had his whole Suite for Organ and Harp been recorded here. As it is Saint-Saëns returns us to pretty-tunesville. Ester Magi's organ composition is interesting as it broadens our knowledge of Estonian organ literature. The use of small melodic fragments is more reminiscent of Erkki-Sven Tüür than Arvo Pärt and I like it. Chris de Blasio  - a former student of John Corigliano, who unfortunately died at a very young age - contributes a pleasant interlude, transcribed for organ and harp, which unfortunately is too like everything else on the disc to stand out as much as it perhaps deserves to. Variety is at least added by the Handel concerto, and by Messiaen's Joie et Clarté des Corps Glorieux which nonetheless receives a pretty joyless performance from Nancianne Parrella.
The highly acclaimed Mander organ in St Ignatius is rather claustrophobically recorded, and there are occasional intonation problems with the cello. The disc as a whole suffers from poor programming resulting in a chronic lack of variety of mood, tension and originality.  Despite some occasional interesting tracks, this is at best mood music. Actually I just find it boring.

Chris Bragg


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