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Russian And French Showpieces For Organ - Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition; Hakim, Etc / Houssart


Release Date: 08/12/2008 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 267   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Naji HakimModest MussorgskySergei ProkofievJean Guillou
Performer:  Robert Houssart
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MUSSORGSKY (arr. John) Pictures at an Exhibition. PROKOFIEV (arr. Houssart) Lieutenant Kijé: Troika. HAKIM Hommage à Igor Stravinsky. GUILLOU Toccata Robert Houssart (org) REGENT 267 (70:46)


Modest Mussorgsky Read more composed no original works for organ. However, organists have been attracted to playing his most famous composition in organ transcriptions. Keith John’s 1992 transcription is the one that seems to appear the most on recent recitals. For this listener, the finest organ transcription of the work remains the first, Calvin Hampton’s controversial 1975 version for Musical Heritage Society, which has never been released on CD and has never been re-notated fully. (It exists thus only in LP form in the hands of collectors and as a piano score with his rough annotations.) Robert Houssart delivers a compelling performance of John’s transcription, but for this reviewer, Ravel’s orchestral version is so superior (and so widely performed and recorded) that any organ transcriptions do seem superfluous.


Of far greater satisfaction is one of the landmark works by Lebanese-French composer Naji Hakim (b. 1955), Olivier Messiaen’s successor at La Trinité, Paris. Hommage à Igor Stravinsky (1986) is one of Hakim’s earliest published organ works, but it still remains one of the most-often performed. In three movements, the work contains no direct quotations from Stravinsky’s music, but rather hints at the moods of his Russian ballets and uses many Stravinskian compositional techniques. Hakim’s music always bursts with rhythmic energy, and this is a work in which (despite the Stravinsky homage) he well displays his personal style: an amalgam of Lebanese rhythms and the colors of the French symphonic organ school.


The remaining two items are much shorter. The CD opens with Houssart’s own transcription of the famous “Troika” from Prokofiev’s opera Lieutenant Kijé. The transcription is effective and would make, no doubt, a very effective recital encore. Jean Guillou (b. 1930) is one of the most famous French organists of his generation, who has written many extremely thorny, powerfully wrought organ compositions. Toccata (1962) is a typical Guillou work: exceptionally difficult, bleak, and very abstruse harmonically and structurally. For this listener, his music is best experienced in small doses, and this 10-minute toccata is the right amount.


Robert Houssart’s playing is strong, and he is well served by the organ of Gloucester Cathedral and Regent’s recorded sound.

FANFARE: Carson Cooman


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Works on This Recording

1.
Hommage à Igor Stravinsky by Naji Hakim
Performer:  Robert Houssart (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; France 
Length: 22 Minutes 7 Secs. 
2.
Pictures at an Exhibition for Organ by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Robert Houssart (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Length: 32 Minutes 50 Secs. 
3.
Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60: Troika by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Robert Houssart (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Paris, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Robert Houssart. 
4.
Toccata for Organ by Jean Guillou
Performer:  Robert Houssart (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Length: 9 Minutes 13 Secs. 

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