GMCD 7187 – Triumphal Music for Organ & Orchestra by Guillmant, Saint-Saëns
The Ingolstadt Philharmonic, Alfredo Ibarra – Conductor, Franz Hauk – Organ, Samson Gonaschwili – Violin
Wet Paint Web Review
January Disc of the Month
Imposing sonic creations make full use of the organ’s cavalcade of sounds and colors. Our soloists caress these winsome and fluid French late Romantic pieces. The melodies are sweetly fragrant and the clouds of harmonies, touched with a silvery sheen, expand in the reverberant atmosphere. You could float away on them. Guilmant’s Symphony is glorious–the heavens just open up! Hauk and his Ingolstadt organ match the orchestra wave after thrilling wave, contrasted with moments of arching, spinning, mellifluous tunes…Full-throated.
American Organist December 2000
[Saint-Saëns: Romance op.27; Sérénade op.15; Gounod: Hymns à Saint-Cècile, Dubois; Humne nuptial; Guilmant; Marche élégiaque, op. 74; Deuxième Marche funèbre. Op.41; Symphonie en la. Op 91] In reviewing a previous CD featuring Messrs, Hauk and Ibarra we were curious as to why the adjective “triumphal” had been included in the title and now, with their second recording of four chamber works for violin, harp and Organ, two arrangements of Funeral Organ pieces and a “Symphony” we wonder even more.
Gounod’s much-arranged and deservedly popular Hymn to St. Cecilia is the gem of the collection and is played a bit more relaxed than we are accustomed to hearing. He truly had the “gift of song” and this is one of those immortal melodies he used to claim that the angels flew down and sang into his ear.
The Saint-Saëns Romance and Sérénade are salon pieces in which harp and organ are substituted for the original piano and harmonium. In spite of those who feel that the composer could have used some help from Gounod’s angel while composing these, the second piece was played frequently during Saint-Saëns’s lifetime (when performed in Carnegie Hall in 1906, he played the organ part and Walter Damrosch the piano).
Dubois was not without inspiration, though of a more tawdry sort than Gounod’s and his Hymne nuptial is marked with a craftsmanship immediately recognized as that of a professional composer.
Guilmant’s reputation as one of the greatest organists and teachers in the 19th century is not enough to sustain a further distinction as a composer. If as an improviser he was able to adapt certain basic formulas to create instant “pieces,” the theory did not work for him as a composer, prolific though he may have been. Why even he would have turned a dreary organ solos. Marche élégiaque (from the pièces, dans difféfent styles), into a piece for two oboes, strings, and organ, and a harmonium funeral march into a piece for organ and orchestra is as mysterious as why any orchestra would play them The Second Symphony, later turned into his eighth Organ Sonata, fares better: its interminably uninspired themes, rudimentary harmonies and pseudo-Schumann rhythms are only relieved at times by what might seem by comparison to be varied orchestration.
The performances are first-rate; the ensemble playing is impeccable, the intonation immaculate, and all is recorded beautifully. With such superb instrumental forces at their disposal. Hauk and Ibarra really must get some literature worthy of their talent; has no one ever heard of Vierne’s pièce symphonique? Or at least of the Adagio from his Third Symphony, published by Durand?
Gramophone December 2000
Performances range from the flawless to the impassioned in these triumphant – and occasionally reflective – works
Franz Hauk, ever-resourceful organist of Ingolstadt Minster, has been dredging the libraries and publishers’ back-catalogues to unearth repertoire for organ and orchestra beyond the usual diet of Poulenc Concerto and Saint-Saëns Symphony. Whether everything on this lavishly packaged pair of discs can realistically be described as ‘Triumphal’ is a moot point. Saint-Saëns’ charming Sérénade (a gorgeous quartet for harp, violin, viola and organ which deserves to be far better known) is graceful and genteel, while Guilmant’s uneventful ‘Adoration’ for organ string orchestra- never seems to rise above a
Humble piano throughout its seven minute of deep, introspective prayer. But there is sufficient music with truly triumphalist tendencies to prevent and feeling of deception. Perhaps the arrogant triuymphalish of the brass introduction to Gounod’s wholly uncharacteristic Fantasia on the Russian National Hymn (the old pre-Bolshevik one, that is, familiar to all through Tchaikovsky’s 1812) is not sustained, but Duhois’ gloriously pompous Fantasie thiomphale certainly lives up to its name, and of all the opulent, majestic and, yes, triumphal works for organ and symphony orchestra, none in my opinion can hold a candle to Guilrnant’s Second Symphony, here given a truly stirring performance.
Hauk is a thorough, if sometimes uninspiring player, and on the evidence of his discography is far more at home in the music of baroque Germany than romantic France. Nevertheless, these are immaculately measured performances in which every detail is painstakingly prepared. He is, blessed with a flawless technique, and there is no doubting that even in repertoire which might seem more the preserve of a grand French romantic organ rather than a 1977 Klais, the Ingolstadt organ is a joy to behold. The recording is most sympathetic, getting a realistic enough balance under appallingly difficult conditions between organ and orchestra, capturing a generous but unobtrusive measure of the Ingolstadt acoustic, and providing a gloriously clear and broad sound-scape which fully supports the majestic nature of some of these pieces while providing a deliciously atmospheric backdrop to the more subdued pieces – hear how Samson Gonaschwili’s violin soars magically heavenward in the closing bars of Saint-Saëns’ touching Romance.
The Mexican conductor Alfredo Ibarra keeps it all moving along effortlessly, pacing its climaxes nicely, avoiding the self-indulgence which could so easily creep into music where sound rather than substance is often the raison d’être, and injecting a wonderful sense of drama where it matters most – particularly over the long drawn-out introduction to the Guilmant Syrnphony. The Ingolstadt Philharmonic is not always flawless in matters of ensemble, tuning or accuracy, but what they lack in finesse they more than make up for in fire, passion and commitment. All in all, two highly recommended discs for those who love a triumphant sound (with occasional reflective interludes).
Organist’s Review – Nobember 00 – 342 and 344
Organist at Ingolstadt Minster, Germany, is the talented but modest Franz Hauk. GUIND MUSIC and their experienced recording engineer Jonathan Wearn have made numerous visits there in recent years, and not just to record Dr Hauk playing solo, but also to collaborate with the excellent Ingolstadt Philharmonie orchestra and its dynamic young conductor, the Mexican Alfredo Ibarra. Some of the fruits of their labours are before me.
Reger – Organ Masterworks
Franz Hauk plays the Klais organ of Ingolstadi Minster
Chorale Fantasia on ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’ (opus 52/2); Weihnachten (from opus 145); Sonata in D minor (opus 60); Symphonic Fantasia & Fugue – 7he Inferno’ (opus 57)
Recorded August 1996;’IT 73’26”. GUILD GMCD 7192
Triumpahl Music for Organ & Orchestra
Jongen Symphonie concertante for organ and orchestra; Dupré- Cortège et Litanie (as arranged for organ and orchestra); Duproé Concerto in E minor
Recorded August 1997;’IT 67152″. Guiid GMCD 7195
Triumphal Music for Organ & Orchestra
Saint-Saëns Romance pour violon, harpe et orgue; Sérénade pour orgue, harpe, violon et alto [viola]; Dubois Hymne Nuptial pour violon, harpe et orgue; Gounod Hymne à Sainte Cécile – Trio pour violon, orgue et harpe; Guilmant Marche élègiaque pour orgue et orchestre; Symphonie en La Majeur pour orgue et orchestre
Recorded August 1996;’IT 68131″. GUILD GMCD 7187
The great 1977 Klais remains one of the largest and finest organs so far built by the company; we remind you of its stop-list here ORGAN SPECS It is situated in the vast and glorious soaring gothic Liebfrauenmünster church, possessed of a 10/11 seconds’ resonance matched only by buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral. Franz Hauk has been organist at Ingolstadt since 1988, becoming choirmaster in 1995. He founded the Ingolstadt Organ Days and the Organ Matinées at Noon as well as the Bavarian Youth Orchestra Academy (now the BR Orchestral Academy in Ingolstadt). A noted player of Bach, Reger and the French romantic repertoire, Hauk (born 1955) was a pupil of Aldo Schoen, Franz Lehrndorfer and Edgar Krapp, and studied at the conservatories of Munich and Salzburg.
He brings to his Reger performances a rare mixture of technical assurance, contrapuntal clarity and poetic insight.
The Ingolstadt Klais matches his approach uncannily, possessing great richness through its multiplicity of ranks and 16ft- based Hauptwerk chorus, yet having both the clarity which low-pressure classically-
voiced pippework possesses, and the subtle colours afforded by the diverse ranks of gentle colour stops. The recorded balance always places the organ in the building – as the listener is. Never is it so close that the organ is in one’s face. Consequently the listener needs to concentrate to hear the detail – and what a joy it is to concentrate so on this marvellous playing. The Reger Programme is cleverly balanced, embracing the moods and varying outlooks of Reger’s various periods, the concept of light being sometimes unwillingly drawn out of darkness never being far away.
For many listeners, the organ + orchestra repertoire embraces the Handel Coneertos and the Poulenc Concerto and that’s about it. Not so. As recordings and live performances over the last twenty years or so have shown, there is a much larger repertoire than that much of it (with notable exceptions) coming from France and Belgium. Guilmant, Saint-Saëns, Widor, Dubois, Gounod, Gigout, Jongen, Dupré – all wrote significant works for organ. Franz Hauk and the Philharmonic Ingolstadt have done us all a great service by recording a significant number of these works on two CDs, and there is more on two others (Widor, Jongen & Parker on GMCD 7182; Gounod, Dubois, Gigout & Guilmant on GMCD 7185).
GMCD 7187 presents as its major work the stirring and dramatic Guilmant Symphony in A. By coincidence a Liverpool version of this was reviewed in These columns two issues ago. In comparison
one might say that the Liverpool version shares a huge space and a huge organ, but there are interesting differences. the RLPO is larger in string numbers and thus has a warm lushness; the Pl has a fresher, more lithe string sound. Both organs are of course of heroic dimensions: at Liverpool the organ has a darker more sonorous tone and is slightly more to the fore in near-tutti; at Ingolstadt the organ has again a fresher, brighter sound, which integrates remarkably well with the orchestra, coming to the fore when needed but possessing less weight. Actually, both organs are slightly more recessed in perspective than I would like: there is a huge amount of interesting detail in the organ parts of this and other works (particularly the Jongen on GMCD 7195) which is sadly lost. The Liverpool performance is 10% faster overall.
Many readers will know the exciting Jongen Symphonie concertante and may indeed have heard a sparkling performance of its dashing final movement by Jane Parker-Smith and the BBC Concert Orchestra in Friday Night is Music Night, which a few weeks ago came live from Southwell Minster. A work which bowled over Jongen’s contemporaries when they first heard it – composed as
late as 1926 – it was originally intended for the inauguration of the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia, though in the event the première took place in the Brussels Conservatoire Royal de Musique, with the composer at the organ. A work which integrates organ and orchestra perhaps more successfully than any other, it receives a reference performance here.
A particular delight on GMCD 7187 are the salon type works by Saint-Saëns, Guilmant, Gounod and Dubois, which exploit the delicious ensemble of organ, harp and strings. The great tidal wave of the Ingolstadt acoustic sometimes threatens to overwhelm the intimacy of this music, but with the microphones moved in closer, all is well, and the delightful melodies with which this repertoire abounds are affectingly woven together.
As for choosing which of these to buy, well it all depends what repertoire you like. Whichever you choose, I am sure you will not be disappointed.
American Record Guide September/October Page 250/251
This is another instalment in Guild’s Triumphal Music series. As a quick glance at the program will tell you, the tide is a bit misleading-while Guilmant’s Symphony in A certainly qualifies, serenades, elegies, and funeral marches don’t really conjure up triumphal thoughts. Nonetheless, there is a good deal of very attractive music here, with a considerable portion devoted to the romantic combination of harp, solo violin, and viola accompanied by organ (the orchestra is heard only in the Gullmant pieces)
Hauk performs on a substantial 4-106 Klais (1977) in Liebfrauenmunster, Ingolstadt. We are informed that all selections save the symphony are world premieres. The Saint-Saëns works are light and extremely pleasant, the Romance getting the nod for better melodic invention. One can almost see Nina Ananashvilli gliding across the stage to this ‘Swan’ copy. The Serenade is less rewarding. Gounod’s trib- ute to St Cecilia (1865) could be a cut from a romantic movie, with the violin handling the melody while the harp draws undulating arpeggios against the quiet string chords from the organ. Lovely stuff, and beautifully performed.
Dubois’s Hymne Nuptial is in the same vein, the violin soaring in the stratosphere while the harp and organ supply the gentle accompaniment. Prospective brides may wish to consider this as a soupy prelude. The Marche Elegiaque (189 1) by Guilmant is appropriately plodding-and simple in structure. Organ and orchestra trade off, combining al the conclusion. More interest can be found in the Deuxieme Marche Funebre from 1874. There is more lyricism in the strings and a greater sense of musical Conversation between the forces rather than simply turn-taking.
The Symphony in A is the centrepiece of this recording. Historians seem to be uncertain whether this symphony was written first (1906) and then arranged as his Sonata 8, or the other way around. The five movements are alternately fast and slow, with the greatest activity in the outer movements. There is a fine balance between organ and orchestra, and while the timings are a bit slower than the competition, the clarity is excellent The competition- lan Tracey at Liverpool Cathedral with the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos 9785)-has the edge with the 5-146 Willis and a splendid orchestra. The Tempos are quicker, but the huge resonance sometimes muddies the waters. Hauk’s version is quite good. But you can’t argue with Liverpool’s five 32′ Pedal stops with a Resultant 64′. And the romantic pieces are worth the cost of this disc.
The Organ Vol. 99 No.313 summer 2000
It is a strange coincidence that the main work on this disc, Guilmant’s A major Symphony for Organ & Orchestra, also appears in the programme from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral with Ian Tracey and Jan Pascal Tortelier, reviewed elsewhere. Of the two performances, the one from Liverpool has more atmosphere, being not so closely recorded, and with the warm tones of the Willie organ blending more satisfactorily with the orchestra. On the recording under review, made in the Liebfrauenmünster Ingolstadt, there is greater clarity from orchestra and organ, partly because of microphone position, and also because the whole piece is taken more broadly.
All the other performances on this disc are world premier recordings, including music for organ heard in chamber music combinations, such as Saint-Saëns’ Romance op 27 and his Sérénade op. 15, as well as similar pieces by Gounod and Dubois. In addition there are 2 further pieces for organ and orchestra by Guilmant, his Marche Elégiaque and his Second Marche Funèbre. The chamber pieces in particular are delightful performances, with the violinist and the harpist offering playing of limpid freshness. This disc offers a fascination insight into a little-known area of composition of this period.