Trois pièces; Trois chorals
Pétur Sakari (organ)
BIS BIS-2349 (CD/SACD) 80:37 mins
Any recording pairing the organ music of César Franck with an instrument by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, the composer and organ builder who jointly reinvigorated the French organ school in the 19th century, ought to be welcome. This new release is, though it doesn’t quite live up to its promising start, in which the young Finnish organist Pétur Sakari lays out the thematic material of Franck’s ‘Fantaisie’ with a sense of both the music’s pensive quality and its sweep. He manages to make this first of the composer’s Trois Pièces, written at the same time (1878) as the organ of the Sainte-Croix Cathedral in Orléans was being built, sound at once improvisatory and rigorously structured. Yet the glories of the other two pieces, the straightforward ‘Cantabile’ and restless ‘Pièce héroïque’, are never fully revealed, perhaps because of the slightly distanced recording of this magnificent Orléans instrument.
As for the Trois Chorals, Franck’s last works, the first (in E major, glowing radiantly) works best. A shortage of expressive rubato makes the B minor work sound staid rather than rhapsodic, and not even the authentic bite of Cavaillé-Coll tone saves the final A minor piece from playing that is ultimately lacking in real character.
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