Widor: Symphony No. 3 (excerpts); Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 9 (Gothic)

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COMPOSERS: Widor
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Symphony No. 3 (excerpts); Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 9 (Gothic)
PERFORMER: Marie-Claire Alain (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-98534-2 ADD (1980)
Recorded in 1977, these performances on the three-manual Cavaillé-Coll organ of Marie-Claire Alain’s home church at St Germain-en-Laye prove that Alain is a front-rank interpreter of Widor’s music. She basks in the wealth of colours produced by this organ, and in some of the more ponderous slow movements, her imaginative handling of colour and dynamic shading is a great asset.

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On the whole, her tempi tend to be fast, except, surprisingly, in the scherzo of the Fourth Symphony, where the music never leaves the ground. A closely miked organ shows up some rather sour tuning, but this is a small price to pay when such wonderful articulation is in evidence. Stephen Haylett