LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Organ Symphony No. 1; Organ Symphony No. 2; Organ Symphony No. 3; Organ Symphony No. 4; Organ Symphony No. 5; Organ Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: Ben van Oosten (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 316 0732-2
Ben van Oosten is quite right to point out Vierne’s unique synthesis in his six symphonies of Franck’s compositional principles and Widor’s disciplined playing techniques. Maurice Duruflé recalled how Vierne, his teacher during the Twenties, was able to expose the Franckian aesthetic he inherited to more rational procedures and, as a ‘complete technician’, was every inch the student of Widor. The symphonies offer much more than a mere synthesis of these two Parisian giants, however; they are character studies of the man who composed them, eloquent statements communicating a variety of moods and sentiments which, regrettably, are known to few outside the organ world.
Van Oosten says that ‘emotion and ratiocination are kept in balance’ in these works, and he certainly justifies this statement fully in his performances. He plays three highly respected instruments by Cavaillé-Coll (Rouen, Lyon, Toulouse): what could be more favourable for a complete edition of these works? Sometimes one does miss a hint of generosity in the timing of phrases or the placing of strategic structural events, sobriety perhaps restricting the many amiable and refined qualities which exude from these characteristic pieces. These are small points, however, and this performer’s reading of the enigmatic Adagio movement of the Third Symphony, for example, or his appreciation of the requisite Gothic monumentality in the first and last movements of the same work, are unparalleled. Highly recommended. Andrew McCrea