Widor: Symphony No. 8 in B, Op. 42/4

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LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Symphony No. 8 in B, Op. 42/4
PERFORMER: Ben van Oosten (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 316 0405-2
Widor’s Eighth Symphony poses a supreme challenge to both the musical and technical resources of an organist, so it should come as no surprise that it is among the least recorded of Widor’s symphonies. Lasting just under an hour, it actually finds a natural home on disc. Indeed, much of the intricate musical detail that would be lost in a live performance is beautifully captured on this recording. For this latest addition to his complete survey of Widor’s organ music, Ben van Oosten plays the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ of St Ouen. Part of the challenge in interpreting Widor’s music lies in establishing speeds that allow the musical paragraphs to expand naturally but without letting them hang fire. Van Oosten gauges the balance well throughout, rightly treating Widor’s ambiguous metronome markings as flexible guidelines only. The emotional centre of the work lies in the two slow movements, and here Van Oosten invests their individual character with considerable poise. The effect of the whole is of a subtle, magical charm. Recorded sound is good, although a fuller perspective of this marvellous instrument would have been welcome. Stephen Haylett