Widor: Organ Symphony No. 5; Organ Symphony No. 6; Organ Symphony No. 7; Organ Symphony No. 8

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Col legno
WORKS: Organ Symphony No. 5; Organ Symphony No. 6; Organ Symphony No. 7; Organ Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Christoph Maria Moosmann (organ)
Moosman’s recital includes arguably four of the most integrated and structurally taut works from Widor’s canon of organ symphonies. Moreover, it raises some important questions about recording organ music using an acoustical setting quite different from that envisaged by the composer. Moosman’s own introductory comments on the supposed shortcomings of ‘… the somewhat ponderous nature of original instruments with their bothersome overtones and the excessive echo of French cathedrals…’ might well raise a sceptical eyebrow or two, and this recording on a new, three-manual Hartwig Spath organ certainly affirms Moosman’s desire for clarity and transparency of sound in this repertoire. Certainly, the formidable demands imposed by the music hold no fears for Moosman. Indeed, he despatches the most complex polyphonic textures, for example in the first movement of the 6th Symphony, with superb control and articulation. With such a closely miked recording, a lesser technique would be ruthlessly exposed. Yet this is where my disappointment with the recording lies. If more space had been given by the engineers for the music to breathe naturally, especially in the delicious slow movements of the Fifth and Eighth Symphonies, where there is a distinct lack of warmth and charm, this would have been a highly recommendable disc. Stephen Haylett