Vierne: Organ Symphony No. 1; Organ Symphony No. 3

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Organ Symphony No. 1; Organ Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Michael Murray (organ)
Amongst the flurry of new releases to have come my way recently, it is especially gladdening to hear recordings that manage to put both the atmosphere of the acoustical setting and the finer detail of the musical small-print into a well balanced perspective. So often the listener has to contend with an organ sound either enveloped in swirls of incense or else coming from within the organ-chamber itself.


The two French discs featuring splendid Cavaillé-Coll organs both seem to have judged the balance about right. Ben van Oosten, embarking on a complete cycle of Widor’s symphonies, is a front-rank virtuoso player for whom Widor’s formidable technical demands hold no fear. The Intermezzo from the First Symphony and the finale from the Second are despatched with a tremendous jeu d’esprit, while the shimmering celestes of the slow movements flow easily and fluently.


Michael Murray, playing Vierne on the justly famed organ of St Ouen, Rouen, holds the reins too firmly and too often to make this an outstanding issue. For instance, the finale of the Third Symphony comes over as solid rather than arresting, and the Pastorale of the First Symphony seems to hang fire.