Widor, Hakim, Roger-Ducasse, DuprŽ

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COMPOSERS: Dupre,Hakim,Roger-Ducasse,Widor
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Symphonie
WORKS: Symphony No. 6 in G minor; Vexilla regis prodeunt; Pastorale; Symphony No. 2; Évocation – 3rd movement
PERFORMER: Wayne Marshall (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45320 2
Like all great artists, Wayne Marshall is a risk-taker, and the risks he takes are primarily with tempi. Marshall’s is a world of musical free expression: such is his keyboard virtuosity that neither the fiendish rhythmic complexity of his beloved Gershwin nor the damnedest that the French organist-composers from Vierne to Messiaen can do hold any terrors for him. Marshall plays orchestrally, and fast – teeth-gnashingly so for lesser professional talents and humble amateurs – but does he play so fast that the details become smudged? What about shaping the music? Take Widor’s monumental Sixth Symphony: true, there are perfectly respectable, statelier versions, but there is no denying that Marshall’s dramatically charged, extrovert reading reveals the long melodic lines in a new light – and the inner detail is always there. Marshall is suitably restrained and poetic in the Roger-Ducasse Pastorale, then shrugs off the difficulties of Dupré’s Second Symphony and the finale of the Évocation as if playing simple scales. Of considerable interest in this meaty recital from Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall is the dazzling Vexilla regis prodeunt (The royal banners forward go) by Naji Hakim, Messiaen’s successor at the Trinité in Paris. The Marcussen organ’s en chamade trumpets blaze out to announce that Hakim is indisputably the new master of the French organ tradition; the music suits Marshall’s mercurial style admirably – throughout this disc, he surely gives us playing on the wings of the wind. Graeme Kay