Franck: Six pièces; Trois pièces; Trois chorals

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Col legno
WORKS: Six pièces; Trois pièces; Trois chorals
PERFORMER: Christoph Maria Moosmann (organ)
Despite some outstanding performances here, this is something of a curate’s egg of a release. From the point of view of sheer technique, Christoph Maria Moosmann ranks with the best of his rivals in this competitive area of the catalogue, and at times it serves him and the music well. For example, the Grande pièce symphonique is despatched with considerable stylistic élan, and Moosmann conveys the dramatic content of the musical narrative with great flair. Elsewhere, the Prélude, fugue et variation trips off the written page with a lightness of touch which could only be conjured from a great player, and all three of Franck’s valedictory Chorales are given performances of considerable merit. However, at times Moosmann’s technique does seem glaringly centre-stage. Listen to the start of Pièce héroïque to hear how the music’s ardour is dispelled by a breathless, rushed musical pulse, any sense of space or rubato squashed by a ruthless, if brilliant, technique. The same treatment is meted out to the ‘quasi allegretto’ section of Pastorale which resembles a hectic exercise in ‘moto perpetuo’ playing. The new Hartwig Spath instrument has a very polished, cohesive sound, although I do miss the snarl of French reeds. Stephen Haylett