Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Berlioz, Rachmaninov & Prokofiev

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Berlioz,Mozart,Rachmaninov & Prokofiev,Wagner
ALBUM TITLE: Midnight at Notre-Dame
WORKS: Organ transcriptions of works by Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Berlioz, Rachmaninov & Prokofiev
PERFORMER: Olivier Latry (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 474 8162
For its follow-up to Olivier Latry’s benchmark recording of Messiaen’s complete organ works, DG has issued a pot-boiler of organ transcriptions. SACD surround-sound vividly captures the distinctive pungency and reedy ‘roar’ of the much enlarged Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris. The transcriptions are by players who were composers in their own right and are conceived with due symphonic breadth: Marcel Dupré’s arrangement of the Sinfonia to Bach’s Cantata No. 29 and Maurice Duruflé’s Bach chorales are familiar; less so are Liszt’s transcription of the ‘Pilgrim’s Chorus’ from Wagner’s Tannhäuser and Vierne’s take on Rachmaninov’s C sharp minor Prelude. It comes as a surprise to find Latry not entirely at home in some of this repertoire. The ‘Hungarian March’ from Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust (Henri Busser) is realised in vivid tone colours, but could be snappier in execution. Perhaps bored by Liszt’s prolixity, Latry’s Wagner lacks forward momentum – odd from a player whose acute rhythmic sense has served him so well in previous recordings of Widor and Vierne symphonies. But Latry gets into his stride in Jean Guillou’s dazzling arrangements of Prokofiev’s Toccata, Op. 11, with its coruscating passage work and darting manual changes. The startling spatial clarity of the Super Audio recording comes across in a moment of hair-raising detail, as you hear the sound of individual reed pipes zipping back and forth across the stereo picture. The programme concludes with Henri Messerer’s magisterial arrangement of the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita, BWV 1004. Choose your tracks wisely, and this remains a demonstration CD. Graeme Kay