One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing
this disc through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid world-wide.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
Messe à l’usage ordinaire des paroisses, por les fêtes solennelles (1690) [51:00]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704)
Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues (1674) [15:58]
David Ponsford (organ)
rec. 1-4 July 2012, Prytanée National Militaire, La Flèche, Sarthe, France

The rocket-launch opening to Francois Couperin’s Messe à l’usage ordinaire des paroisses, por les fêtes solennelles is one of my favourite moments in organ music, so I was well up for experiencing it as a follow-up to David Ponsford’s excellent previous volume on NI 6213.
The reedy, throaty tones of the historical Levasseur/Dangeville organ at the Prytanée National Militaire certainly do not disappoint, with plenty of character and power and all of that French pungency which makes glorious music into something which can insinuate itself into your very soul. There is no lack of subtlety or contrast in this piece or the way it is performed however, and even at 51 minutes I still come away feeling rejuvenated. As an organist of long experience – he inherited his father’s post as organist at St Gervais in Paris at the age of eleven – Couperin would have known what kind of music would keep his congregations awake, and this Messe is full of secular dance styles and ingenious adaptations of the Mass’s plainchant origins. David Ponsford’s booklet notes also point out the contrast in performance styles between Italian and French influences, so that rhythmic inégalité is not eternally pervasive.
Charpentier’s Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues is related to Couperin’s work in more ways than one, and the questions of cross-pollination between the two composers is raised by Ponsford in his notes. This work was originally not for solo organ as the title suggests, and alternative recordings use instrumental ensembles of winds and strings. David Ponsford has transcribed Charpentier’s Messe for organ and this is its première recording in this form. The score is incomplete in any case, but the echo effects of the Offertoire were considered impossible for performance on a solo organ and so this has been dropped from this version. The remaining Kyrie and Gloria do however make highly convincing organ pieces in the context of this genre, and as Ponsford points out, the chance is good that these 14 movements represent something like the daily improvised organ masses of the period.
These two volumes from Nimbus Alliance, NI 6213 and NI 6225 belong very much together, and with excellent recordings and performances I can’t recommend them too highly. The historic organ sound is perhaps an acquired taste if you are used to the more woolly and generous tones of later instruments, but if you really like your Couperin then you know in your heart of hearts that this is where his music really belongs. Once you’ve heard these I suspect you will soon be hooked, and after that there’s no turning back.
Dominy Clements