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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

AVAILABILITY

Festivo

Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Disc 1

Symphonie no. 1 en ré mineur op. 14 (1899);
(Prelude [9'00]; Fugue [5'38]; Pastorale [8'29]; Allegro [4'45]; Andante [8'19]; Final [6'46])
César FRANCK (1822-1890) ed L. Vierne

Offertoire [5'42]
Petit Offertoire [3'07]
Versets en fa mineur no. 1 [0'38]
Versets en fa mineur no. 2 [1'07]
Communion [2'49]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) arr L. Vierne

Prelude en do diese mineur [5'50]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1985-1750) ed L. Vierne

Sicilienne [2'13]
Toccata et fugue en re mineur BWV 565 [12'08]
Disc 2
Symphonie no. 2 en mi mineur op. 20 (1902);
(Allegro [7'43]; Choral [8'10]; Scherzo [4'11]; Cantabile [8'17]; Final [8'25])
Tantum ergo pour choeur et orgue op. 2 (1886) [3'16]
Ave Maria pour choeur et orgue op. 3 (1886) [2'09]
Cantique à Saint Louis de Gonzague pour choeur, tenor et orgue op. 3 (1886) [5'27]
Messe solennelle pour choeur et deux orgues op. 16 (1900);
(Kyrie [5'05]; Gloria [7'53]; Sanctus [2'11]; Benedictus [3'55]; Agnus Dei [5'24])
Christine Kamp (organ)
Koor Nieuwe Muziek/René Nieuwint
Wim Dijkstra (orgue de choeur)
rec. October 2003, St Ouen, Rouen, France DDD
FESTIVO 6962.052 [76'40 + 72'12]


This is the third of Christine Kamp's releases surveying the complete organ works of Louis Vierne. This impressive release further includes works for choir and organ as well as Vierne's editions of works by other composers.

The first two symphonies are of course much recorded. Kamp, a former student of Jacques van Oortmerssen and Ewald Kooiman in Amsterdam provides here imposing, bold performances. Her tempi are in general on the slow side. I don't mind this at all; Vierne's tempo markings are notoriously unreliable, probably at least partially due to his near-total blindness. In this recording only rarely does the tempo cause me any discomfort, the Prelude from the first symphony, and the development of the Choral from the second perhaps lack a little direction. What I do miss in general is a little flexibility in the pulse. This is purely a personal preference, but for me Kamp is a bit literal. On the other hand she can be wonderfully dramatic as well - listen to the surprisingly successful arrangement of the Rachmaninov Prelude or her drivingly gritty reading of the Final from the 2nd symphony. Also admirable is her handling of the last great Cavaillé-Coll, the peerless Rouen masterpiece of 1890. Here it sounds as glorious as ever - is there a finer symphonic organ on the planet?

The release is made more interesting by the inclusion of some of Vierne's choral music. The now very well known Messe Solennelle is well sung by the Dutch choir with good blend and intontation - never quite reaching the sublime heights of the Hyperion Westminster Cathedral release, but easily surpassing the Temperaments/Radio France recording from St Sernin in Toulouse, where Michel Bouvard's excellent playing is let down by the choir. If you like your Messe Solennelle with a big Cavaille-Coll, Festivo's is the one to have. It is however interesting to note the gulf in quality between Cavaillé-Coll's grand-orgue and the orgue de choeur; built and rebuilt by Ducroquet, Krischer and finally Debierre-Gloton who electrified it in 1935. Here an unusually slow tempo adds to the grandeur, namely in the Gloria. The other choral works are less significant, Tantum ergo and Ave Maria are early motets, both charming, Tantum ergo set strophically, but giving little clue of what was to follow from this extraordinary figure. The third work is much later, the unknown Cantique à Saint Louis de Gonzague - who according to the booklet is the Saint associated with boys with eye-problems, Vierne having being virtually blind since birth. This is, harmonically at least, a very traditional strophic work, the tenor singing the text of the verses while the choir respond with the refrain "O Saint Louis, sois notre guide".

Of the other works which Vierne edited, the Bach is predictably inflated, but interesting nonetheless as an insight into performance practice from a particular epoch. The Franck works are excerpts from L'Organiste. Vierne altered them little other than the addition of an independent pedal line.

This is a worthwhile, enjoyable and unusual Vierne recording. It is recommendable, especially for the awesome sounds of the Rouen organ, but also for the interesting repertoire, good performances and the excellent booklet.

Chris Bragg

 

 



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