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The American Symphonic Organ / Jean-Baptiste Robin

Release Date: 12/10/2013 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94726   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude DebussyIsaac AlbenizBéla BartókGeorges Bizet,   ... 
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste RobinSTacey Rishoi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

THE AMERICAN SYMPHONIC ORGAN Jean-Baptiste Robin (org); 1 Stacey Rishoi (mez) BRILLIANT 94726 (71:20)

DEBUSSY La cathédrale engloutie. Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. ALBÉNIZ Asturias (Leyenda). BARTÓK 6 Romanian Folk Dances. Read more class="COMPOSER12">BIZET Carmen: Act III Entr’acte. BARBER Adagio for strings. RACHMANINOFF Prelude in c?, op. 3/2. 1 MAHLER Symphony No. 2: “Urlicht.” LISZT Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H. ROBIN Cercles Lointains

The organ featured on this recording—two organs, actually—is an E. M. Skinner instrument now located in the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is a showpiece instrument, originally built in the 1920s, and it exemplifies the orchestral qualities associated with Skinner’s instruments of this period. The process of moving the organs from their original locations—one in the Immaculate Conception Church in Philadelphia, and the other in the home of a Cincinnati industrialist—and restoring them began in 1986. The current venue, itself completed in 1933, is in the Art Deco style, and the rotunda, in which the organ now resides, features a reverberation time of six seconds. One understands organist Jean-Baptiste Robin’s interest in this instrument, and in the space in which it resides. The material on this CD was recorded in March 2009 and May 2011. The only selection to be recorded live, however, is the Mahler, and one (or more) audience member’s strategically timed sneezes attest to that. (Someone must have been allergic to red rosebuds.)

With the exception of the original works by Liszt and by the organist himself, these are Robin’s own transcriptions. They are entertaining and effective, and they demonstrate the Skinner organ’s potential. (A great deal, for example, is made of the organ’s French horn stop, which can be heard to good effect in La cathédrale engloutie .)

Some of Robin’s transcriptions actually were created with this instrument in mind. Also in mind, I think, is the average listener—that is to say, someone who doesn’t often listen to organ music. Like Virgil Fox, Robin wants to popularize the organ by performing music on it that might already be familiar in other versions, and that makes an immediate impression. It would be easy to take a snobbish attitude, and to mutter that “the” Rachmaninoff Prelude, for example, hardly needs to be turned into an organ showpiece, but the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction, and transcriptions in general are not as distasteful as they were to listeners 20 years ago. Robin is respectful of the music. He does nothing silly or tasteless with it, and if these transcriptions fill no particular lacunae, they do the source material no damage, and the unexpected timbres encourage one to hear the music with fresh ears. In the Mahler, mezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi is a sensitive contributor, and she seems to be taking pains to match the organ’s timbres. Nevertheless, any performance of this Symphony in its original form would be complimented by her presence.

In his own Cercles Lointains and especially in the Liszt, Robin demonstrates the solidity of his technique and the legitimacy of his musicianship. He is an imaginative player, with a flair for drama, but he doesn’t allow the music to turn into a vehicle for his ego. Having said that, I’d suggest that those who are interested primarily in the Liszt might prefer a more mainstream recording of it.

Brilliant Classics’s engineering is not overwhelmed by the venue’s reverberation and by the instrument’s dynamic range, which is stunning nonetheless. The opening notes of the Rachmaninoff and the Liszt will test the limits of your speakers … and the patience of those sharing your living space. (My cat ran for cover.)

This disc is a must for organ fanciers, as long as they are not too rigid, and it can be enthusiastically recommended to anyone curious to hear what these works might sound like in expert organ transcriptions. True to the CD’s title, they are “symphonic.”

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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Works on This Recording

Préludes, Book 1: no 10, La cathédrale engloutie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 6 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Cantos de Espańa, Op. 232: no 1, Preludio [Asturias, Op. 47 no 5] by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 7 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Prélude ŕ l'aprčs-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Date of Recording: 03/2009 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 10 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Romanian Folkdances (6) for Piano, Sz 56 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 5 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Carmen: Act 2. Entr'acte by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 9 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Symphony No. 2: Urlicht by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  STacey Rishoi (), Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1894; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/02/2011 
Venue:  Live  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 5 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Prelude and Fugue for Organ on B-A-C-H (I), S 260i (LW E3/1) by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 13 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Reflecting Circles: Distant Circles by Jean-Baptiste Robin
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007-2008 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 5 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Prelude for piano No.1 in C sharp minor ("The Bells of Moscow"), Op. 3/2 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin (Organ)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
Date of Recording: 03/2009 
Venue:  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Termin 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Preludes, Book 1 (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ): Preludes, Book 1: No. 10. La cathedrale engloutie (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Suite espanola No. 1, Op. 47 (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ): Suite espanola No. 1, Op. 47: No. 5. Asturias (Leyenda) (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Roman nepi tancok (Romanian Folk Dances), BB 68 (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Carmen (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ): Carmen, Act II: Entr'acte (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3 (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ): Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3: No. 2. Prelude in C-Sharp Minor (arr. J.-B. Robin for organ)
Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection" (arr. J.-B. Robin for mezzo-soprano and organ): Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection": IV. Urlicht (arr. J.-B. Robin for mezzo-soprano and organ)
Prelude and Fugue on the name B-A-C-H, S260/R381
Cercles Reflechissants: VII. Cercles Lointains

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Classics Heard in a Different Way January 31, 2014 By Jerry R. (San Francisco, CA) See All My Reviews "It was interesting hearing classics transcribed for the organ, and done well. I had not heard them before played on the organ. The big lure for me is the Debussy La Cathedrale Engloutie (Underwater Cathedral). This is very beautiful and mysterious music played on the organ and the big reason that I bought the album. I found the music mostly to be much quieter than I had expected. The former train station, now museum where the organ is located, colors the music considerably. The space is very large and adds a lot of echo to the recording. I can easily imagine the call for the train to Chicago on the public address speakers. I would like to hear this music recorded in a smaller space. With that said I still recommend this recording as a unique experience as most of us may never visit this venue in Cincinnati, Ohio." Report Abuse
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