Three Centuries of Organ Music at Notre-Dame Paris
This is great fun. Olivier Latry, one of the present quartet of organists at Notre-Dame in Paris, explores the music and history of his predecessors. His elegant booklet note briefly charts the tradition of organ-playing at the cathedral since its construction in 1163. He is certainly not wearing rose-tinted glasses, and inserts entertainingly waspish comments about some previous incumbents; if only the booklet could have been larger.
The music ranges from the early 18th century, with Antoine Calvière’s affable Pièce d’orgue, to an incisive improvisation by Latry himself. There are charming pieces from Daquin and Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier, balancing Nicolas Séjan’s more pugnacious Noël suisse and Balbastre’s wonderfully inane version of the Marseillaise. Latry skips over most of the 19th century, Notre-Dame being outflanked by other Parisian churches until Guilmant and Vierne joined the fray, and there is suddenly real substance to the music. The ‘final’ from Guilmant’s Sonate is thrilling, and it is wonderful to hear Latry in three of Vierne’s Pièces de fantaisie. The instrument’s full range of colour can be heard in Jean-Pierre Leguay’s three Preludes and Cochereau’s droll Boléro. Latry’s playing is, of course, of the highest standard throughout, and the recording is detailed yet natural.