DuprŽ, Franck, Widor

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COMPOSERS: Dupre,Franck,Widor
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Choral et Fugue, Op. 57,
PERFORMER: Michael Murray (organ)
The American organist Michael Murray gathers together a selection of French symphonic music under the banner of St Sulpice and its ‘King of Kings’ Cavaillé-Coll organ. If playing the St Sulpice organ is a little like wrestling with an elephant, at least here the tussle is miked close up. One gains only a small sense of the vast space of St Sulpice’s nave, but a correspondingly detailed view of the luscious palette of sounds, including the Barker-lever action, sounding like wet fish being slapped on to a counter. In general, the gigantism of the organ and its building tend to encourage a corresponding gigantism of musical thought, in this player as in others who have played here. A very slow performance of the finale of Widor’s Sixth Symphony gains in grandeur what it loses in excitement. The Grande pièce symphonique of Franck is merely staid. While it is good to hear the two Dupré pieces from Op. 27 (Carillon and Final), they tend to set the real masterpieces in relief, though both are well played by Murray, a pupil of Dupré. The other pieces are played without fuss or frolic, occasionally lacking the truly personal insight. William Whitehead