Kent Nagano conducts Saint-Saëns and new works for organ and orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Camille Saint-Saëns,Kaija Saariaho,Samy Moussa
LABELS: Analekta
ALBUM TITLE: Moussa • Saariaho • Saint-Saëns
WORKS: Moussa: A Globe Itself Infolding*; Saariaho: Maan varjot; Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 (Organ)
PERFORMER: Olivier Latry, *Jean-Willy Kunz (organ); Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal/Kent Nagano
CATALOGUE NO: Analekta AN 2 8779

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This live recording captures the inauguration of the new organ at the home of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. A stylish and well-paced performance of (inevitably) Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphony joins two engaging world premieres for organ soloist and orchestra, all masterfully shaped by Kent Nagano. A Globe Itself Infolding by Samy Moussa, a native of Montreal, ebbs and flows in intensity, its compelling chord sequence unfolding towards the seemingly inevitable conclusion. Jean-Willy Kunz, the convincing soloist, will be thrilled that Moussa suggests this might turn into a full concerto.

Kaija Saariaho, by contrast, is clear that Maan varjot (Earth’s shadows) is not a concerto, but a ‘fruitful and inspiring companionship’ for two ‘strong but civilised personalities’. Dedicated to Dutilleux’s memory, its title is taken from Shelley’s elegy for Keats, Adonaïs. An organist in her youth, some of Saariaho’s colours suggest an insider’s understanding: the orchestra moulds and adapts the organ’s sonorities, chords melting into microtones or entwining with the toccata-like opening to the third movement. As always, Olivier Latry is utterly assured, beguiling and imperious as appropriate, both in the Saariaho and the Saint-Saëns.

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Christopher Dingle