Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is not one of those flamboyant, over-engineered releases whose stock is apt to plummet after just a few auditions.
Rarely have I felt so embraced by an organ recital. I suspect the intimacy of the acoustic and the beautifully proportioned playing have much to do with that. There are no misjudgements here, no jarring juxtapositions, and the naturally balanced recording is a model of its kind. After the grace and airiness of those Purcell pieces Vavilov’s Ave Maria has a rich glow and gentle tread that had me fumbling for the Repeat button. And the grand – but not grandiloquent – Rigaudon from André Campra’s opera Idomenée (1712) finds majesty and sparkle in perfect poise. The Bach pieces are just as
captivating. The gruff Allegro from Torelli’s Violin Concerto in D minor underline just how beautifully voiced this instrument is; they also confirm Gagné as a musician of compelling sensitivity and charm.
The 19th century kicks off with strongly characterized accounts of Faure’s incidental music for Edmond Haraucourt’s play Shylock (1889). There are three arrangers here, including the noted American composer and organist Virgil Fox, who also arranged the sumptuous fanfare from Act 3 of Wagner’sParsifal. Even though this is an exhibition piece worthy of Liszt, Gagné dispatches it with a modicum of restraint and good taste.
Marcel Dupré, the celebrated organist, composer and improviser, also wrote music for other instruments and ensembles; his Cortège et Litanie of 1922, for 11 theatre musicians, was subsequently published as the second in a suite of four pieces for piano. The work is heard here in the composer’s own, big-boned arrangement for organ. Gagné handles these twists and flourishes without fluster; happily the recording retains its composure, even under pressure. And goodness, how Gagné makes the flames lick and leap in the Falla.
The Petit Adagio from Glazunov’s The Seasons is pleasing, if a little soupy; by contrast Gagné’s forensic arrangement of Edward MacDowell’s AD 1620, from his Sea Pieces of 1898, sounds much more forensic. There’s more Americana, with rhythmically alert performances of Sousa’s Stars and StripesForever – arranged by organ virtuoso E. Power Biggs – and Gagné’s spirited Finale from Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha. In between all this ebullience Saint-Saëns’s enigmatic swan glides with its customary elegance.
A spirit-lifting program, superbly played and recorded; more, please.
- MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Ave Maria by Giulio Caccini
Be the first to review this title