WORKS: Organ Symphony No. 3; Organ Symphony No. 6; Trois nouvelles pièces, Op. 87
PERFORMER: David M Patrick (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1106
It has to be said that the Widor discography is a well-stocked cupboard, and another recording on which music and machine are only imperfectly matched is unlikely to set the world alight. However, this release does have certain merits, and is excellently recorded.
David Patrick seems most at home when rhythmic muscle is called for, abetted in his task by the wall of sound which is the Sixties Harrison in Coventry Cathedral. Symphony No. 6 has more muscle than most, with its displaced toccata sitting squarely in the middle of the work, and brought off here with fiery precision (a shame the organ was not slightly better tuned, though). The opening of the work, too, is impressive and compelling, as is the brassy finale. Patrick is again sui generis throttling up in the finale of the Third Symphony, a welcome and under-rated companion to the Sixth. It is in the moments of emotional intimacy that his performance is somewhat wanting. ‘Mystique’ (from the Trois nouvelles pièces) ironically lacks any such allure, and there is not enough of the sweet suavity which Widor needs. The all-too-Germanic organ is partly to blame – the hollow flutes and scything mixtures do not charm as would a Cavaillé-Coll. There is more legato warmth to be heard in Roth’s recording of Widor’s Third at St Sernin, Toulouse, or in Fagius’s at the Katerina Church, Stockholm. The latter couples the same two symphonies together and achieves a much more rounded performance. William Whitehead