WORKS: Seven Organ Pieces, Op. 145; 52 Easy Chorale Preludes, Op. 67 (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Roger Judd (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: HAVPCD 203
It is fortunate that Jehan Alain left to the musical world such an enriching legacy of compositions before he was killed in action in 1940 at the age of 29. The present recording by Eric Lebrun, part of a projected complete survey of Alain’s organ works, comes as a timely reminder of the breadth and command of Alain’s musical language. The three-manual Cavaillé-Coll organ used for this recording is not a vast instrument, but possesses a wonderful range of colours that breathes life into these works. Lebrun measures up well to the technical difficulties posed by the music, and his razor-sharp, highly charged playing keeps the sparks flying throughout. I did miss, in pieces such as the Trois Dances, a lighter, more airborne approach, but overall this seems to be a survey well worth investing in. A good recording too.
The mere mention of Max Reger may send some listeners reaching for the indigestion tablets, his name epitomising the late German-Romantic propensity for richly chromatic harmony. However, it would be hard to find a more committed advocate than Roger Judd, playing on the Harrison organ of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Judd interprets these works with a fine sense of fluidity and forward momentum. There is, for instance, an almost rhapsodic freedom to ‘Dankpsalm’ and he creates an overwhelming feeling of cumulative power in ‘Siegesfeier’. The recording is rather claustrophobic.
Lastly, the combination of Coventry Cathedral organ and Duruflé’s music proves a superb partnership. This disc draws outstanding playing from David Patrick, who gives performances that stand high against the best in the field. Listen to his deftness of touch in the Scherzo and an awesome technique that lends brilliance to the Toccata from the Suite, Op. 5. The recording is in the demonstration class.