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Jehan Alain: Organ Works / Thomas Trotter


Release Date: 08/06/2007 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 430833   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This record is a discovery, opening up the whole world of the organ music of Jehan Alain (1911-40) whose works, often left in rather sketchy form, have been edited and performed by his sister Marie-Claire Alain. Like most organists, I knew and played the Trois pièces—"Variations sur un theme de Clement Jannequin" (probably not by him anyway and a somewhat over-extended piece); "Le Jardin suspendu" with its mesmeric and memorable theme; and "Litanies" with its frenzied repetitions and varied metres, catchy and climactic. "Litanies" is a clue to Alain's own musical language which, in spite of superficial resemblances, cannot be confused with that of Messiaen, who admired him.

You
Read more have to be prepared for some action noise on the Dutch Het Van den Heuvel instrument but it has some wonderful colours which Trotter carefully matches to Alain's suggestions. The familiar Troi5 pieces all come off well, but the tuning between the 8 foot dulciana and the 4 foot flute at the opening of "Le Jardin" feels slightly uncomfortable.

Fantasmagorie (1935) is an odd piece, which provided a seed for "Litanies". Alain's use of repetition now seems very much a la mode, anticipating minimalism. He sets up an idea and then repeats it, introducing variations gradually, or simple contrasts. A good example of this is the first of the Trois danses called "Joies". The introductory chords may recall Messiaen but at 0'59" the pedals announce a repetitive syncopated figure that could easily be a pizzicato jazz bass opening an Ellington number. The impetus is well sustained—and so is the performance. The funereal "Deuils", written "in honour of a hero" is one of the finest achievements of the record. Unfortunately the crucial short repeated-note rhythm will not speak properly in the pedals, where it is first announced, so there is some rhythmic ambiguity. But we should not be too literal about Alain who asked the performer to "regain the supreme ease of improvisation" in performance. The last number of this tryptich, "Luttes", is awesome, especially since the composer died in battle not long after. The final section (from 2'40") crunches home with that repeated-note rhythm from "Deuils".

The other larger work is the Suite—an improvisatory "Introduction et variations"; a well-judged scherzo; and a chorale as eccentric in harmony as those of Erik Satie. Two fantasies—the first places a quote from the twelfth-century Persian The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam at the end of the score—and two dances for Agni Yavishta, the Hindu god of fire, complete an excellent anthlogy of Alain, generous in playing time, well documented (in four languages)—and the recording is first class.

-- Gramophone [7/1991]
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Works on This Recording

1. Danses (3) for Organ, AWV 119/Op. 81 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1939; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 23 Minutes 14 Secs. 
2. Fantasmagorie for Organ, AWV 73 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
3. Fantaisie for Organ no 1, AWV 59/Op. 51 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
4. Fantaisie for Organ no 2, AWV 91/Op. 73 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 6 Minutes 6 Secs. 
5. Suite, for organ, JA 69-70, 82 (AWV 86) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 17 Minutes 41 Secs. 
6. Danses (2) à Agni Yavishta for Organ, AWV 61 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
7. Variations sur un thème de Clément Janequin, for organ, JA 118 (AWV 99) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 5 Minutes 34 Secs. 
8. Le jardin suspendu for Organ, AWV 63 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 6 Minutes 58 Secs. 
9. Litanies for Organ, AWV 100/Op. 79 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Niewe Kerk, Katwijk ann Zee, Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 23 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Trois Danses: Joies
Trois Danses: Deuils
Trois Danses: Luttes
Fantasmagorie
1er Fantasie
2me Fantaisie
Suite: 1. Introduction et Variations
Suite: 2. Scherzo
Suite: 3. Choral
Deux Danses à Agni Yavishta: 1. Allegro
Deux Danses à Agni Yavishta: 2. Pas vite
Trois Pièces: 1. Variations (sur un thème de Clément Jannequin)
Trois Pièces: 2. Le jardin suspendu (chaconne)
Trois Pièces: 3. Litanies

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