Paul Paray was not a conductor who happened to compose, but a real composer in the late, great French Romantic tradition. His Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc is a glorious piece of writing. Why it has remained unknown is a complete mystery, but if you love the Requiems of Fauré or Duruflé, then you will enjoy this work equally. You don’t have to take my word for it though. Just listen to the opening of the Agnus Dei (sound clip), and if that tune doesn’t grab you, then I give up. The work has four movements (omitting the Credo, which was chanted at the actual service in Rouen for which the piece was composed in 1931). There is another very good performance available on Reference Recordings, but theRead more composer’s own finely sung and perfectly paced version carries with it a special authority, and it receives the full Mercury Living Presence treatment.
When Universal tapped producer Wilma Cozart Fine to begin remastering the Mercury Living Presence catalog for CD release, I begged her to issue this performance, and was delighted to learn that she had it on the schedule, coupled to Paray’s exceptional Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. This marvelously well-engineered version features legendary French organist Marcel Dupré, and it stands with Munch, Ormandy (Sony) and de Waart/San Francisco (Philips) among the top recommendations for the work. Excitingly intense in the opening movement, serenely flowing in the Adagio, wonderfully pointed rhythmically in the scherzo, and uncompromisingly grand in the finale, it makes the perfect partner to Paray’s Mass. This release remains one of the gems of the Mercury Living Presence catalog, an ideal mix of the familiar and unfamiliar.
Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arcby Paul Paray Performer:
David Lloyd (Tenor),
Frances Bible (Mezzo Soprano),
Francis Yeend (Soprano),
Yi-Kwei Sze (Bass)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra,
Rackham Symphony Choir
Period: 20th Century Written: 1931; France
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony": 1a. Adagio - Allegro moderato -
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony": 1b. Poco adagio
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony": 2a. Allegro moderato - Presto - Allegro moderato
Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 "Organ Symphony": 2b. Maestoso - Più allegro - Molto allegro
Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc: 1. Kyrie
Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc: 2. Gloria
Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc: 3. Sanctus - Benedictus
Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc: 4. Agnus Dei
Paul Paray: Post-sessions thanks to the Performers
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Superior Saint-SaensJune 14, 2013By N. Stevens See All My Reviews"Prior to receiving this Detroit rendition of the "Organ Symphony", my reference, whether CD or vinyl, was the 1976 recording of Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony. I first heard the Detroit recording in 1972 on the radio and was very impressed then but was never able to find it in stores. As soon as I received it, I have critically listened to it daily and am as thrilled today as so many years ago. The recording has some inherent background noise (mostly noticeable through headphones), but in terms of accurate orchestral reproduction, it is outstanding. The musicians are precise, articulate, and any other adjective you can imagine. The organ (a then new Aeolian/Skinner) is as impressive in the latter half of the first movement as it is in the Maestoso. It has the right blend of pedals, reeds and flutes with tremendous power without being muddy or full of echo. Paul Paray conducts with energy without over-flamboyancy and his musicians are right with him all the way. I have a significant number of analog remastered recordings from 1957 and they are all great. This one is at the top of the list. I am still learning the "Mass" so as to comment at a later date."Report Abuse
A very exciting performance of this symphony.October 11, 2012By Antony Ormiston (Newton Abbot, Devon)See All My Reviews"A number of things make this cd exciting; the amazingly realistic recording, you would never know it dates from 1957, the association of the organist Marcel Dupre with Saint-Saens and with the symphony from an early age, and the quality of the performance which I would describe as dramatic as well as exciting. Any chance of persuading Mercury to release the other recordings by Marcel Dupre?"Report Abuse
Sonically dated, but still the best.March 26, 2012By Tony M. See All My Reviews"Everyone is familiar with the TV cliché of "good cop/bad cop". The only flaw in this recording is the continual presence of the good cop and the bad cop. The good cop is Ford Auditorium in Detroit, where the recording took place. The bad cop is . . . Ford Auditorium in Detroit, where the recording took place. The hall was dedicated in June of 1957; this recording took place only four months later. The "good cop" was the truly state-of-the-art recording system built into the hall, the envy of many at that time. The "bad cop" was the inescapable fact that the hall was dead. Very dead. Several attempts to improve the acoustics over the years came to naught. The DSO eventually moved back to their crumbling - but acoustically gorgeous - original home, Orchestral Hall. Ford Auditorium was razed in 2011, after standing empty for many years. Paray viewed this symphony for exactly what it was - a true French symphony (a rare bird in the musical forest) written by a friend and mentor. He conducts it accordingly, and it is a revelation. Dupré, the organist, (also a friend of Saint-Saens) was the perfect choice for the recording, and it was recorded in real time - orchestra and organ performing together. Mercury did a phenomenal job, given the hall's flat acoustic. The limitations of tape in 1957 do show through from place to place, as well as a very few burbles and squeaks in the orchestra, but overall, the recording, even by today's standards, is gorgeous. Beautiful interpretation, magnificent organ parts, tremendous recording job by the Mercury engineers. Only the Munch 1959 read with the BSO, and perhaps the Ormandy/Michael Murray recordings are in this class. If I was on a desert island, and could have only one recording of this work, this would be the one."Report Abuse
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