Poulenc, Langlais, Helmschrott

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Helmschrott,Langlais,Poulenc
LABELS: Guild
WORKS: Organ Concerto
PERFORMER: Franz Hauk (organ), Anno Kesting (percussion); Georgian CO, Ingolstadt/Markus Poschner
CATALOGUE NO: GMCD 7240
Pressed to come up with three works for organ, orchestra and percussion – never mind ‘masterworks’, as they are billed here – one might have racked one’s brains with little success. But here they are, concertos by Jean Langlais and the German composer Robert Maximilian Helmschrott, together with the famous Concerto in G minor by Poulenc.

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Langlais’s Third Concerto sets things in motion with a highly dramatic opening consisting of clattering timpani and demonic organ chords, continuing in rather the same melodramatic vein before ending incongruously on a major chord. Organist Franz Hauk has the right Hammer Horror touch and proves a strong and agile soloist, rising to all the dramatic challenges of the piece. Helmschrott’s work was written during a sojourn in the US, and its repetitive structure – based on an eight-note series – perhaps suggests a debt to American minimalism. Oblique and questioning, it flirts with monotony a little too intimately. The Poulenc is clearly the best thing here. Under Markus Poschner’s direction it bounces along airily, but the reverberent acoustic of the Liebfrauenmünster in Ingolstadt fails entirely to mask some patchy passagework from the orchestral strings. Nonetheless, organ fans may well want to investigate. Christopher Wood