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             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively AmazonUK AmazonUS

Jean LANGLAIS (1907-1991)
Eclipse: Choral and Organ Music
Psaume Solennel (1962) [13.37]; Caritas Christi (1952) [6.48]; Pastorale and Rondo for organ (1982 [3.53/5.39]; Mass ‘Grant us thy peace’ (1981) [17.51]; Chant de Paix (1942/3) [4.58]; Three Short Anthems (1978) (Beloved let us love one another [1.13]; Grace to you [1.17]; At the name of Jesus [1.08])
Messe Solennelle (1949) [18.10]; Venite et audite (1958) [1.31]; Ave Maria. Ave Maris Stella for organ (1933-4) [8.16]; Tantum ergo (1940) [2.07]; Fête for solo organ (1946) [5.28]; Messe en style ancien (1952) [11.08]; Ceremony for brass sextet (1989) [10.13]; Ubi Caritas (1986) [5.33]
Gloriae dei Cantores/Elizabeth C. Patterson
Gabriel V Brass Quintet
David Chalmers (organ); James Jordan (organ); Sharon Rose Pfeiffer (organ)
rec. Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, MA, February, April 2007
GLORIAE DEI CANTORES GSCD041 [56.16 + 62.21]


Experience Classicsonline

That Jean Langlais is one of France’s finest composers of church music few would deny but that a very great and significant composer tries to emerge from the liturgical texts may be a more controversial statement. I’m not saying that I can be certain yet, but the more acquaintance I have with his music the more impressed I become. This CD, so lovingly and passionately compiled is an excellent place to start in understanding this remarkable, blind composer and organist. A quick look at one of the Langlais websites seems to confirm that he concentrated on vocal, piano and organ music. Does this make him a second division rather un-versatile composer? There is some fine writing for brass on these two CDs, not least in the four brief movements of Ceremony as well as the writing in other works like Psaume Solennel.

The booklet notes by David Chalmers are rather evangelical but very helpful taking us through the music in the order in which it is presented. There are also attractive black and white photos of the magnificent Gothic pile which is Saint Clotilde in Paris, where Langlais was organist and of the organ itself. These notes will be my own guide as I comment on several of the fourteen pieces recorded. 

The Psaume Solennel is the opening work and is a setting of that most joyous of psalms: Number 150. It makes an impressive sound - voices, brass and timpani - the slow sections especially so. Even so, the irregular rhythms which attempt to give the piece an air of rejoicing, are somewhat awkward and the melodic line is lacking in anything too memorable. However that one of the characteristics of the Langlais style is the somewhat angular melodic line. This comes to fruition brilliantly in the musical struggles encapsulated in the settings of the Kyrie Eleison, (Lord have mercy upon us). This is especially the case in the famous wartime Messe Solennelle, where in the final Kyrie the words are passionately and painfully repeated over and over again. Similarly the Kyrie to the Mass ‘Grant us thy peace’, written for the ‘Three Choirs Festival’, turns out to be the longest movement of the entire work, a very unusual occurrence. These Kyries represent the cry of mankind (Lord have mercy) in trying to understand the pain and suffering in the world. Langlais, as I have already intimated, seems to me to be less good in the Gloria movements, where he likes to get through the text quickly and in which his melodies lack a memorable ‘hook’. 

Angular lines can be heard also in the organ parts as in the Agnus Dei of the Messe Solennelle. Langlais insisted that the organ should be considered an equal partner with the choir and that it should make a strong impact and statement of its own. 

Another characteristic of the Langlais language is the use of plainchant which is part of his life-blood. It is there even in one of his last works. Try the somewhat curious setting of Ubi Caritas set so memorably by Duruflé several years before. The plainchant appears and vanishes as if in a sad dream, sometimes in organum, sometimes harmonised. Plainchant is a more subtle presence in the beautifully poised Messe en style ancien. Curiously this short mass does not sound especially ‘old’ despite the fact that that there is much contrapuntal writing. That said, plainchant, whilst not quoted directly, seems to be the stimulant which lies behind the conjunct melodic lines which therefore make a happy contrast with those in the Messe Solennelle. 

Langlais was a close friend and confederate of his exact contemporary Olivier Messiaen. Although they are so different the latter’s influence can occasionally be discerned - not surprisingly in the organ works. Messiaen can be heard in the faster sections of La Nativité, in the lively Fête with its irregular rhythms and in the slower movements of the more meditative Venite et audite. 

We also hear some short and charming introits in the shape of the Tantum Ergo and the Three short anthems. Their simple and elegant melodies will be pleasing to choirs of all abilities. 

The organ used on this recording at the church is not particularly French-sounding but it is a fine instrument. James Jordan is acutely aware of its potential and uses the full instrument gloriously. Its specification is not given but it is of hybrid construction made especially for the church which was opened as recently as 2000. I find the reed stops especially effective in the delightful Pastoral and Rondo.

The choir Gloriae dei Cantores is excellent with fine diction and intonation and a clear and precise ensemble. They achieve an ideal balance aided by the upfront but not overpowering recording. I have reviewed this choir before - a disc of Rubbra (GDCD 024). They seem now to be an even finer instrument. Perhaps this repertoire suits them a little better.

Gary Higginson



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




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review 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.