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The Britannic Organ Vol. 4 - Eugene Gigout and Joseph Bonnet
track listing below review
Eugene Gigout (organ), Joseph Bonnet (organ)
rec. January 2012 Museum fur Musikautomaten, Seewen SO
OEHMS CLASSICS OC843 [80:21 + 78:24]

Experience Classicsonline



 
This recording is a real one off. The double CD set collates 35 “Welte” rolls. These are rolls with holes punched in them that can be played by a mechanical organ. In this case it’s The Britannic Organ of the Museum of Music Automatons in Switzerland.
 
The first CD is of Eugène Gigout, who was an important figure in the French organ tradition but is largely unknown outside the organ loft. This recording is interesting on several levels. That a recording made by Gigout in 1912 can have been preserved for so long is remarkable in itself, and that the technology exists to play the rolls is truly fortunate. The organ is also a fascinating machine - if only the booklet notes said a little more about how it actually works.
 
For students and scholars this CD represents a snapshot of an important stage in the French organ tradition which has so far been unavailable. The recordings are very good, they display the articulation and registration very clearly and the organ makes a very full sound. The expression from the swell pedal is sometimes rather brisk but it is unclear who is responsible. In general, Gigout’s playing is strongly articulated and certainly not sentimental. Communion is a particularly interesting piece, as it is played with far more articulation than Guilmant or Franck would have liked. It is also very quiet, which means you can hear the mechanical noise in the background, which is rather nice. This is also true of Gigout’s rendition of Boëllmann’s Elevation. Gigout adopted Boëllmann who died prematurely, so this recording is particularly poignant. One can hear the emotion behind the sound, with some very carefully placed cadences. Lemmens’ pieces would be of immense interest to scholars and students. He was undoubtedly the grandfather of the French organ tradition and provided a bridge between 18th and 19th centuries. The Fanfare sounds a bit like a fairground organ here, but the Cantabile is played expressively, utilising the full tonal range of the quiet stops on the organ.
 
Joseph Bonnet was much younger than Gigout, representing the latter end of the French organ tradition. His recordings are very sensitive, if occasionally rather quirky. The Dedicace is full of sensitivity and contains some delicious harmonies. Once again the swell box is operated very quickly. The booklet notes claim that that was what was intended by the player, but it seems unlikely that all pieces by both performers would have these unmusical dramatic bulges in sound.
 
The baroque pieces played by Bonnet are very interesting. The Corelli, arranged by Guilmant, reflects 19th/20th century ideas applied to “early music”. It provides an astonishing comparison to the Trio Sonata recordings by The Purcell Quartet with Robert Woolley (Chaconne Classics 1990).They are full of articulation and rhythm - quite opposite to Bonnet’s rendition.
 
The Buxtehude is much more exciting and again is played in a manner which wouldn’t be done today. The lack of regard or knowledge about historical performance practice is rather refreshing.
 
All in the all, this collection of recordings is quite good fun. How accurate the interpretations are is unclear but nevertheless it is worth a listen. Modern “normal” recordings of all the works on these discs probably sound nicer but if in the area, the Museum of Music Automaton is definitely worth a visit.
 
Hannah Parry-Ridout 

Track listing
Eugene GIGOUT (1844-1925)
Toccata in b minor [3:03]
Allegretto Grazioso [3:39]
Chant (from Suite) [7:43]
Festival March (from Suite) [7:04]
Minuetto [4:57]
Fughetta [2:39]
Marche des rogations [4:05]
Cantilène [4:15]
Marche réligieuse [4:33]
Communion [4:17]
Grand Choeur dialogue [5:23]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Andantino in g minor [7:48]
Alexandre Pierre François BOËLY (1785-1858)
Andante con moto op. 45 no. 7 [3:02]
Charles Alexis CHAUVET (1837-1871)
Andante con moto no. 6 [3:35]
Andantino no. 9 [3:58]
Leon BOËLLMANN (1862-1897)
Elevation in E-flat major op. 29 no. 1 [3:58]
Communion in B-flat major op. 30 no. 5 [2:48]
Sortie in C major op. 30 no. 5 [2:47]
Jacques-Nicolas LEMMENS (1823-1881)
Fanfare [3:13]
Cantabile [5:42]
Prelude in E-flat major [4:48]
Prière [3:26]
Symphony Concertant - Scherzo [5:02]
Joseph BONNET (1884-1944)
Dédicace op. 7 no. 1 [6:02]
Claire de la lune op 7 no. 3[5:52]
Romance sans paroles op. 7 no. 8 [4:22]
Angelus du soir op. 10 no. 10 [7:02]
Pastorale op. 7 no. 9 [3:36]
Berceuse op. 10 no. 6 [4:25]
Paysage op. 10 no. 9 [4:07]
Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687)
Rigaudon [4:01]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Preludio (arr. Guilmant) [5:11]
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Fuge C-Dur [2:39]
Alexandre Pierre François BOËLY (1785-1858)
Andante con moto op. 45 no. 7 [3:30]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Esquisses op. 58 no. 3 [6:02]

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