Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Organ Concerto in G Minor [21:55]
Camille SAINT-SAňNS (1835-1921)
Symphony No. 3 Organ Symphony [36:00]
Thomas Trotter (organ)
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra/Arvo Volmer
rec. live, Auckland Town Hall, March 2010
ATOLL ACD116 [58:15]
This disc was made to commemorate the rebuilding of the Klais Orgelbau organ of Auckland Town Hall in 2010. This was the new organís first concert with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Itís a very impressive instrument Ė the full specification is given in the booklet notes Ė and itís recorded very well too. The colours and range come across very well in the stereoscape, and the bass is given just the right amount of prominence. Itís played with predictable flair by the estimable fingers of Thomas Trotter, whose musicianship needs no praise from me. The most interesting thing about the performances, however, is the playing of the Auckland strings, which I found very impressive. For the Poulenc, in particular, they are just right for the characteristic, occasionally creepy sound of the music, rich and full for many of the slower passages but pulsating with life in the whizzy quick passages. Arvo Volmerís control of the unfolding structure is also very convincing. Itís clear when a new section comes along, but the piece still feels like a coherent whole.
The Saint-SaŽns isnít quite so special and there is nothing remarkable to make it stand out from the considerable competition youíll find elsewhere for this work. Equally, however, there is nothing wrong with it and, again, the playing of the strings in the slow movement is very convincing. In fact it is remarkably French-sounding in both the pointing of the phrasing and the luxuriant quality of the sound. It wonít make anyone do away with their discs of Levine/Preston or Barenboim/Litaize, but it shows off both the orchestra and the instrument very well.
Simon Thompson
Characteristic, occasionally creepy, rich and full. Very convincing.

see also review by Karim Elmahmoudi