Franck: Trois Chorals pour grand orgue; Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18; Pièce héroïque

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ALBUM TITLE: Franck :Trois Chorals
WORKS: Trois Chorals pour grand orgue; Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18; Pièce héroïque
PERFORMER: Olivier Latry (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5418
The conventional view of Franck as grandiloquent pater seraphicus has been challenged in recent years by evidence pointing to a more vigorous performance style. Like Michael Murray (Telarc) and Piet Kee (Chandos) before him, Olivier Latry is a persuasive advocate for this approach, using the full range of colours in the Notre Dame organ to dazzling effect. His spritely Pièce héroïque makes Jennifer Bate’s plaudit-laden account (on Regis) sound rather weary, and his winsome Choral No. 1, a piece that too easily becomes stodgy, will win many friends. And yet, this is disc falls a little short.


If asked to pick the perfect vehicle to make the case for the surround sound capabilities brought by SACD, a recital on the enormous Cavaillé-Coll organ in the cavernous acoustic at Notre Dame would came pretty high up the list. Unfortunately, this is not the one. The recording is clear, but there is surprisingly little sense of being in the middle of a large cathedral. The momentous chords that periodically halt the headlong dash of Choral No. 3 are certainly powerful. However, whereas Bate’s St Pierre de Beauvais recording leaves no doubt that this is a vast space, Latry’s merely hints at the sense of being completely enveloped, consumed even, by this awesome sonic onslaught. This does not sound like sitting in Notre Dame. A little more space between the fireworks from Latry to allow the building play its part would not go amiss either. This is a fine recital, but it displaces neither Murray’s complete survey nor Bate’s more Romantic set. Christopher Dingle