Holiday Shop


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org
Welcome to ArkivMusic, the retail store for Public Radio Market!

Alain: Complete Works For Organ / Kevin Bowyer


Release Date: 04/21/1998 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 5551   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 26 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $18.98
CD:  $15.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jehan Alain was killed by a German bullet during the invasion of France in 1940 at the age of only twenty-nine. His music for organ, which forms his principal legacy, looks forward to the style which would later be adopted by Messiaen. He studied composition with Dukas and Roger-Ducasse and his music reflects the influence of the later French impressionists. His early death can only be regarded as a major tragedy for the world of music.

These two very well filled CDs containing his ‘complete’ solo organ music come into direct competition with a number of rivals. Naxos have released a pair of discs played by Eric Lebrun on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the church of Saint-Antoine des Quinze-Vingts in Paris. There are also
Read more two sets recorded by the composer’s sister Marie-Claire Alain, one (for Erato, omitting a number of the shorter items) on the Valtrin-Callinet-Schwenkedel organ of the Basilique Saint-Christophe in Belfort, and another (for Intrada) later one on four different French and Swiss organs. There is also a more recent set by Lars Notto Birkeland on Simax, of which more later. The set by Jean-Baptiste Robin on Brilliant Classics extends to three CDs, the third of which contains a performance of the seven-minute L’année liturgique Israélite and the five-minute Variations on a theme of Rimsky-Korsakov not available elsewhere, as well as the world première recording of Mussorgsky’s Synagogue music (for voices and orchestra) conducted by Alain. The sound is distinctly poor in Alain’s 1930s recordings, with lots of surface noise and the other works do not really justify the extension to a third disc. There are also sets by James Higdon (on RBW) and Guy Bovet (on Gall) which I have not heard.

The first of Marie-Claire Alain’s sets, the Robin three-disc set, and the Naxos pair of discs, are available at budget price. Under the circumstances it might seem that the more expensive set under consideration here, recorded on an English organ, might be outclassed; but that is by no means the case. In the first place the recorded sound is more recessed than in the Lebrun recordings for Naxos, giving a better sense of space and church acoustic. This brings both gains and losses – the opening of the Litanies is less clear, but the improvement in atmosphere is palpable. Marie-Claire Alain in her later recording of the Litanies, at a speed nearer to Bowyer than Lebrun, is no clearer despite a closer recording. Both the later Alain - I have not heard the earlier incomplete Erato set, which Dominy Clements in his reviews on this site of the Birkeland and Robin sets rated highly - and Lebrun produce a more grandiose sound, with the organ thundering out from the speakers. The Nimbus set has a more natural acoustic and a sound that will perhaps feel better in a domestic setting.

Which brings us to the performances themselves. Kevin Bowyer has nothing to fear from comparisons with either Eric Lebrun or Marie-Claire Alain. His speeds are closer to those adopted by the composer’s sister than to those of Lebrun. Presumably she, if anybody, knows how the music should go. There is plenty of grandeur when it is needed, such as in the final movement of the Suite which opens the first CD. Incidentally none of the sets presents the pieces in the order of composition – which is any event doubtful in the case of some of the smaller works – but all adopt a sensibly contrasted approach. That adopted by Bowyer here gives plenty of variety, interspersing the miniatures among the larger-scale pieces. Comparisons of individual movements with rivals demonstrate that Alain’s music can take a variety of approaches and some may find greater rewards in other interpretations. Since recordings of these works almost invariably come as part of complete sets, one must accept these as a whole and independent comparisons are rather beside the point. Some of his speeds may seem unexpectedly fast – for example his 1933 Intermezzo is over half a minute shorter than Marie-Claire Alain and over a minute shorter than Birkeland or Lebrun – but the piece works perfectly well at that tempo and indeed acquires a freshness of approach.

If you like the sound of a naturally recessed church acoustic, then Bowyer is probably your choice for these works. That said, you should not overlook the Simax recording by Birkeland which has a similar but more expansive sound (recorded in Fagerborg Church) and where the organist has taken advantage of recent scholarship to correct a number of errors in the published editions. Alain envisaged his music performed on French organs of the Cavaillé-Coll type, whereas Birkeland’s and Bowyer’s instruments are less reedy and more ‘mainstream’. Some (including myself) may regard that as an improvement, blending the registrations in a more rounded manner. Others may prefer what a friend of mine calls the more ‘French Catholic’ style. In that light Bowyer’s Marcussen instrument is probably a bit more ‘French’ in sound than Birkeland’s. Whichever version you choose, the organ music of Alain should certainly form part of any self-respecting collection.

-- Paul Corfield Godfrey, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Suite, for organ, JA 69-70, 82 (AWV 86) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935; France 
2.
Climat for Organ, AWV 64 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
3.
Prelude et Fugue, for organ, JA 75, 57 (AWV 77) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935; France 
4.
Choral dorien for Organ, AWV 75 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
5.
Choral phrygien for Organ, AWV 76 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
6.
Variations sur "Lucis Creator," for organ, JA 27 (AWV 29) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 01/1932; France 
7.
Berceuse sur deux notes qui cornent, AWV 5 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; France 
8.
Prélude Profane for Organ no 1, AWV 57 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
9.
Prélude Profane for Organ no 2, AWV 58 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
10.
Monodie, for organ or piano, JA 135 (AWV 109a) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 09/08/1938; France 
11.
Ballade en mode phrygien, AWV 8 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
12.
Choral cistercien pour un élévation for Organ, AWV 62 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
13.
Variations sur un thème de Clément Janequin, for organ, JA 118 (AWV 99) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1937; France 
14.
Le jardin suspendu for Organ, AWV 63 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
15.
Litanies for Organ, AWV 100/Op. 79 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
16.
Fantasmagorie for Organ, AWV 73 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
17.
Danses (3) for Organ, AWV 119/Op. 81 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1939; France 
18.
Petite Pièce, for organ, JA 33 (AWV 37) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 12/1932; France 
19.
Intermezzo, for organ ("Fileuse"), JA 66bis (AWV 74a) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935; France 
20.
Lamento, for organ, JA 14 (AWV 10) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 02/1930; France 
21.
Fantaisie for Organ no 1, AWV 59/Op. 51 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
22.
Fantaisie for Organ no 2, AWV 91/Op. 73 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; France 
23.
Danses (2) à Agni Yavishta for Organ, AWV 61 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
24.
Complainte à la mode ancienne, for organ, JA 38 (AWV 35) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1932 
25.
Fugue en mode de Fa for Organ by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
26.
Verset-Choral, for organ or piano, JA 6 (AWV 19) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 03/1931 
27.
De Jules Lemaître, for organ or piano, JA 62 (AWV 72) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1935 
28.
Chant donné, for organ (or piano), JA 37 (AWV 33) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1932 
29.
Animato-Andante for Organ, AWV 65b by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
30.
Postlude pour l'office de Complies for Organ, AWV 13/Op. 21 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
31.
Page 21 de 8er cahier de notes de Jehan Alain by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Written: France 
32.
Aria for Organ, AWV 120 by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
33.
Grave, for organ or piano (Trois minutes No. 3), JA 32 (AWV 36) by Jehan-Ariste Alain
Performer:  Kevin Bowyer (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 08/1932; France 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In