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LABELS: Priory
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Rhapsodie sur des airs catalans; Suite de six pièces; Trois pièces
PERFORMER: Gerard Brooks (organ)
A very mellow and highly atmospheric CD, capturing the sound of the early Cavaillé-Coll organ in Perpignan Cathedral with generous reverberation. Gerard Brooks is a specialist in French Romantic music and makes the music flow with a strong singing line. Despite the sense of vastness and endless recession (very exciting in the E flat Prelude), his rhythm and phrasing are clear.


Eugène Gigout was a contemporary of Fauré and Widor, and his teachers included Saint-Saëns, who was only a decade older. Gigout was the dedicatee and gave the first performance of Franck’s Third Chorale, though his own style is relatively plain and almost untouched by the harmonic adventures of the New German School of Liszt and Wagner. The Rhapsody on Catalan Tunes makes a colourful if rather bombastic opener here, and though none of the music has strong individuality, it’s hard to resist the all-enveloping warmth and melting smoothness of the Perpignan organ, though the action of certain stops (for instance, in the Andantino from the Six Pièces) is almost as loud as the musical tone it produces. True organ enthusiasts might find that an added attraction. Adrian Jack