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French Organ Music / Petur Sakari

Dupre / Durufle / Messiaen / Tournemire / Sakari
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1969  
Composer:  Charles TournemireLouis VierneOlivier MessiaenMarcel Dupré,   ... 
Performer:  Pétur Sakari
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


Pétur Sakari, making his recording debut for BIS, is an organist and the son of Petri Sakari, the conductor whom you may know for his high-quality interpretations of Sibelius, Alfvén, Madetoja and other Scandinavian composers. The younger man started learning organ after, as a child, angrily kicking at the piano where he wished there were more pedals. Now he pursues advanced studies, including improvisation, in Paris.

He couldn’t have asked for a better debut showcase: five French composers evoking that nation’s great organ tradition and spectacular SACD sound. Add to that list the organ of
Read more St-Étienne-du-Mont Church, Paris, originally completed in 1636. The organ has undergone several revisions since, although the Organs of Paris website quaintly notes that many of the stops date from “before the revolution”, lowercase, as if this is no surprising thing. Maurice Duruflé was organist there for years, and his successor, the talented composer Thierry Escaich, is now one of Pétur Sakari’s teachers.

Though still young, Sakari appears to have earned the trust this disc suggests. He is consistently impressive from first note to last, and his booklet notes often add a personal dimension to the interpretations. His powerful, bleak performance of Duruflé’s mighty Suite, on the organ for which it was written, is a culmination of his studies with the successors of Monsieur and Madame Duruflé - who was also an organist. And it’s also dedicated to his mother, who, before her untimely death, insisted Sakari fly to Paris to study the work further. She lived long enough to sit beside him on the bench as he practiced it.

There is a smart alternation of “heavy” and “light” music on programme. Charles Tournemire’s mighty chorale-improvisation, a ten-minute emotional epic that it’s hard to believe somebody made up on the fly, is contrasted with the peaceful “Clair de lune” from Louis Vierne, which uses the very highest flute-like notes above a low bass drone. And that, in turn, contrasts with the other Vierne selections, including the turbulent, awe-inspiring “Toccata” and “Carillon de Westminster,” which needs no introduction here.

We are also treated to Messiaen’s Le banquet céleste, a mesmerizing study in slow, calm meditation - dare I say minimalism - which has a curious way of seeming too long at first and, later on, not nearly long enough. The playing is superbly colourful. Again, Sakari generates big contrasts by pairing this with Marcel Dupré’s dazzling, fiendishly difficult prelude and fugue.

The organ of St.-Étienne-du-Mont is sounding glorious. I’m all the more excited to be visiting the church soon. The instrument is ravishing, at or near a sort of Platonic ideal of what the organ should be. BIS’s sound captures it so well I thought about buying better equipment for it. This was with the CD version, not the allegedly even higher-fi download. To give you an idea, the very last chord of the Duruflé suite lasts exactly ten seconds, after which the sound lingers as glorious reverb for a good four seconds.

All told, this is an auspicious debut and a big treat for we, the listeners.

– Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Improvisations (5) for Organ: no 5, Choral-Improvisation sur le "Victimae paschali" by Charles Tournemire
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1930; France 
Pièces de fantaisie - Suite no 3, Op. 54: 6th movement, Carillon de Westminster by Louis Vierne
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1927; France 
Pièces de fantaisie - Suite no 3, Op. 54: 2nd movement, Impromptu by Louis Vierne
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1927; France 
Pièces de fantaisie - Suite no 2, Op. 53: 6th movement, Toccata in B flat minor by Louis Vierne
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; France 
Pièces de fantaisie - Suite no 2, Op. 53: 5th movement, Claire de lune by Louis Vierne
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; France 
Le banquet céleste by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Preludes and Fugues (3) for Organ, Op. 7: no 1 in B major by Marcel Dupré
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; France 
Suite for Organ, Op. 5 by Maurice Duruflé
Performer:  Pétur Sakari (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 

Sound Samples

Choral-improvisation sur le Victimae paschali laudes
Pieces de fantaisie, Op. 53 (Suite No. 2): V. Clair de lune
Pieces de fantaisie, Op. 53 (Suite No. 2): VI. Toccata
Pieces de fantaisie, Op. 54 (Suite No. 3): II. Impromptu
Pieces de fantaisie, Op. 54 (Suite No. 3): VI. Carillon de Westminster
Le Banquet Celeste
3 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 7*: 3 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 7: Prelude and Fugue in B Major
Suite, Op. 5: I. Prelude
Suite, Op. 5: II. Sicilienne
Suite, Op. 5: III. Toccata

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