WORKS: Sept chorals-poèmes pour les sept paroles du Christ
PERFORMER: Georges Delvallée (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 472 982-2
In the same way that Haydn composed a musical commentary on the ‘Seven Last Words’ of Christ on the cross, Tournemire wrote these seven Chorals-poèmes as faith-inspired meditations on this most central of Catholic texts. I must confess I have never really got on with Tournemire’s music, finding that it sounds more like an earnest aid-to-faith rather than truly convincing music. That said, one cannot imagine a more persuasive performance of these pieces than at the hands of Georges Delvallée on the magnificent organ of St Sulpice in Paris. The pure sensuality and grandeur of the sound, surely the main inspiration for these written-down improvisations, does have a beguiling power that moulds the meandering and sectional music into some sort of whole.
Delvallée lets the music unfold with beautiful poise, without a hint of musical point-scoring. With an organ and player of lesser stature, the music’s fabric would certainly seem threadbare. All this is sacrilege no doubt to the many Tournemire partisans, and this recording is undoubtedly a valuable testament to the work of the mature Tournemire and a cycle that Messiaen apparently admired.
The recording brilliantly captures both clarity and atmosphere in the vast space of St Sulpice. William Whitehead