Vierne: Symphony No. 2 in E minor; Les angélus

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 in E minor; Les angélus
PERFORMER: Gordon Jones (baritone), David Hill (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55044 Reissue (1987)
Lovers of French late-Romantic organ music are well served by this disc made in 1987 when David Hill was in charge of the music at Westminster Cathedral and brilliantly revivified it. Vierne’s Second Organ Symphony is a five-movement monster in cyclic form, where ideas recur from movement to movement. It’s a fine example of the genre admired, apparently, by Debussy and showing the influence of Vierne’s teachers Franck and Widor in spades. The filler is the slightly saccharine, though at times intriguingly chromatic, triptych (cf early Messiaen) Les angélus of 1929 – settings for voice and organ. Shortish measure by today’s standards at 50 minutes, some would say, but this is music, not baked beans. Stephen Pettitt