Notes and Editorial Reviews
Here's a fine example of truth in advertising: this disc's title accurately describes the music and performances you hear on these two well-programmed CDs. The collection, culled from Universal's catalog of organ recordings covering the decades from the late 1950s (Marcel Dupré's Franck Chorale No. 3 in A minor) to the present (two Messiaen pieces by Olivier Latry), features some of the instrument's most respected and accomplished practitioners, although names such as Chorzempa and Richter are absent. Disc 1 is mostly devoted to J.S. Bach--no surprise!--and includes the ever-popular (and possibly spurious, but who cares) Toccata in D minor BWV 565, given a rippingly roof-raising reading in a 1984 recording by Ton Koopman. We're also treated to Wolfgang Rübsam's fleet "Little" Fugue in G minor BWV 578 and later, his powerful, sumptuously recorded Toccata & Fugue in D minor BWV 538 ("Dorian") from 1977.
Disc 2 opens with the absolutely maniacal Liszt Prelude & Fugue on the Name B-A-C-H, performed by Peter Hurford with appropriately unbridled, uninhibited dramatic flair--and impeccable virtuoso technique. Marcel Dupré's classic performance of Franck's Chorale No. 3 is worth the price of the discs--which, but the way, are an exceptional 2-for-1 bargain--and the concluding works by Widor and Messiaen (the latter taken from Olivier Latry's recent complete traversal) will leave any organ fan satisfied and grateful for the chance to relive these timeless interpretations and to revisit some of the repertoire's grandest and most gratifying masterpieces. As for the sound, it doesn't seem to matter when or in what venue these selections were recorded--all do full justice to music and instrument. And for those who care about such things, your sound system and the structural integrity of your listening room will be sufficiently challenged. For most listeners, the substantial musical rewards of this program will be sufficient, however, organ enthusiasts who don't already own the original recordings will be disappointed to find that no information is given regarding the instruments--an inexplicable and unfortunate omission. [9/16/2004]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com