Tournemire: L’orgue mystique, Part 1

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COMPOSERS: Tournemire
LABELS: Accord
WORKS: L’orgue mystique, Part 1
PERFORMER: Georges Delvallee (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 206632
As a preface to this collection, the booklet gives a short review, written in 1938, of the entire L’Orgue Mystique cycle by the young Olivier Messiaen; Tournemire’s dazzlingly original style was for him ‘une merveille d’art mi-gothique, mi-ultra moderne’. Given that Tournemire was by profession an improviser, and one of the very best, the world is now certainly a richer place for having a substantial corpus of his hybrid, uniquely ‘ancient and modern’ music to consult in the three cycles (covering the liturgical year) which comprise ‘The Mystical Organ’.

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Thanks to Georges Delvallée, playing the Cavaillé-Coll at the church of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, we have an opportunity to experience yet more riches from Tournemire’s exotic – and because of its liturgical specificity seldom performed – sound-world (this 3-disc collection sees the conclusion of Delvallée’s project to record the complete work). Naturally, when music is presented encyclopaedically, as here, one must listen with discretion, imagining the theological context and some of the sense-absorbing atmosphere in which this sort of improvised music (the ‘sonic incense’ of the ancient organ mass crossed with a meditative, chant-inspired romanticism?) can be presented. Delvallée’s performances are masterly, and reveal a thoughtful musician at work, one who is able to unite effectively technical facility and the sixth sense needed to perform this unique, ethereal music. Andrew McCrea