LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Organ Symphony No. 5; Organ Symphony No. 10 (Romane)
PERFORMER: Christian von Blohn (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 79587 2
The 1967 Walker organ of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is an unusual choice of instrument for a recording of Widor and Cochereau, and yet it plays host to one of the most rewarding and musically satisfying discs to have come my way in recent months.
Jeremy Filsell gives a spellbinding account of Widor’s Eighth Symphony, authoritative in his command over the considerable technical challenges set by the music, and impeccable in matters of rhythmic precision and projection of musical line. His registration is particularly well thought through, especially in the fourth-movement Variations, where different strands of colour collide and interweave seamlessly. The Cochereau ‘Variations on a Noël’, transcribed by Filsell from live recordings of Cochereau, provide an imaginative study of sharply-etched contrasts of texture and touch, and Filsell brings his own vivid characterisations to bear on each variation. The sound of the Walker instrument is particularly well captured.
Christian van Blohn’s recital unfortunately suffers in comparison, mostly owing to his inability to maintain a steady musical pulse without rushing towards the bar-line, most noticeable in the first and final (Toccata) movements of the Fifth Symphony. He is not helped by an undistinguished-sounding organ and a recording which underplays the pedal line. Stephen Haylett