Hakim: The Last Judgement; Chant de joie; Bagatelle; Improvisation

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WORKS: The Last Judgement; Chant de joie; Bagatelle; Improvisation
PERFORMER: Naji Hakim (organ)
Naji Hakim has forged an enviable reputation as one of the foremost composer-organists of his generation, strengthening a rich heritage passed on from his erstwhile teacher, Jean Langlais, and his predecessor at La Trinité, Olivier Messiaen. Listening to this recording gives a vivid impression of the originality of Hakim’s musical personality, and yet in these works one can hear stylistic resonances of Langlais, especially in the interplay between episodes of plainsong and livelier, declamatory music. Hakim opens his programme with an impressive structure in one movement, The Last Judgement. He bases the work on striking Biblical texts from which he creates startling musical imagery. Stamping, repetitive bass clusters depict vividly his vision of Eternal Fire, contrasting with spiralling, scalic passages evoking a serene vision of Eternal Life. The 1869 Cavaillé-Coll organ at La Trinité provides Hakim with a rich orchestral palette which he clearly enjoys exploiting to the full and the result is very impressive. Chant de joie is a ‘moto perpetuo’ showpiece for organ, brimming with Hakim’s trademark rhythmic urgency and juxtaposed dynamic contrasts, while the three-part Sinfonia strikes more of a balance between repose and restless energy. Hakim concludes with a live-recorded improvisation, giving full rein to the magnificent organ at La Trinité. Splendid playing. Stephen Haylett