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Trois siècles d’orgue
Nicolas SÉJEAN (1745-1819)

Noël Suisse [8:50]
Guillaume Antoine CALVIÈRE (1695-1755)
Pièce d’orgue [2:32]
Louis-Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772)
Noël, Grand jeu et Duo [5:59]
Claude BALBASTRE (1727-1799)
Marche des Marseillois, Air “ça ira” [5:22]
Jean-Jacques BEAVARLET-CHARPENTIER (1734-1794)
Noëls en tambourin [2:46]
Alexandre GUILMANT (1837-1911)
Sonate n°1 (Final) [7:10]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
From: Pièce de fantasie
Clair de Lune [9:35]
Feux follets [4:40]
Carillon de Westminster [7:12]
Jean-Pierre LEGUAY (b.1939)
From: Dix-neuf préludes
Prélude IX [1:51]
Leguay: Prélude VI [1:54]
Leguay: Prélude VII [1:41]
Pierre COCHEREAU (1924-1984)
Boléro [12:45]*
Olivier LATRY (b.1962)
Improvisation [4:28]
Olivier Latry (organ)
Emmanuel Clark and Florent Jodolet (percussion*)
rec. January 2013, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
NAÏVE RECORDS V 5338 [77:00]

This kind of compilation needs to have a good raison d’être to tease my interest, and Olivier Latry’s Trois siècles d’orgue has just that. Fifty-two names of organists at Notre Dame in Paris have been recorded since it was built in the 12th century, and the booklet notes for this release give quite a full account of their history, if lacking in information about the actual music. The programme is a chronological journey from the 18th century to the present day, and while there will always have to be omissions, there is plenty to get one’s teeth into with this particular album.
 
Opening with Nicolas Séjean’s remarkable Noël Suisse, we are treated to the entire dynamic range of the organ, from its rousing march-like theme to the most delicate of variations. These Noëls and similar rousing intermezzi were the organ equivalent of Rock ’n’ Roll for organists in this period and, separated by Guillaume Antoine Calvière’s gentle Pièce, both Daquin and Balbastre entertain with their take on familiar tunes. Alexandre Guilmant throws us with sudden verve into the Romantic era with the toccata Final to his First Sonata. Guilmant’s spectacular music contrasts with the restraint of Louis Vierne, whose Clair de lune is filled with gorgeous impressionistic colour. Feux follets is a fascinating piece, darting with nervous energy, while an old favourite the Carillon de Westminster makes a welcome appearance.
 
With Jean-Pierre Leguay we are truly into the 20th century, and his more avant-garde sounds and tonal choices almost inevitably remind us of Messiaen, while at the same time making us realise that there must be numerous organist/composers who languish, almost entirely neglected under the great man’s shadow. Leguay’s Préludes are compact essays, covering a huge territory in their miniature dimensions. Pierre Cochereau’s Boléro does what it says on the tin, adding percussion to provide the ratatatat rhythm, while the organ builds inexorably in a strange but highly engaging tune-free anti-Ravel version of the dance. Olivier Latry’s own closing Improvisation pushes the grand instrument to its limits in a work of high-octane energy and considerable substance.
 
This programme is a fine souvenir of one of the world’s greatest organs played by one of today’s best organists. The programme is both satisfying in its own right as well as an invitation to explore further, and with a very fine recording it’s also a sonic treat.
 
Dominy Clements