Reviews

GMCD 7185 – Triumphal Music for Organ & Orchestra by Gounoud, Dubois, Gigout, Guilmant

The Ingolstadt Philharmonic, Alfredo Ibarra – Conductor, Franz Hauk – Organ

To the CD in our Shop


Essex Chronicle 28.October 2005Classical Sounds

Music of love

I AM writing to you from Paris, soaking in some of the sights, sounds and smells and three concerts in as many days. Amongst those sights have been the tombs of both Berlioz and Offenbach. The French do love their tombs and since we are in France, this week’s selection of recent and new CDs Starts with an Instrument that seems to be quintessentially French; the flute.

Now I know that composers the world over have drawn upon the soft timbre of the Instrument, bat somehow the French have made it their own, and this is demonstrated in a recital for flute and piano played by Emmanuel Pahud (flute) and Eric le Sage (piano) (EMI, 5 56488 2).

All the works included are firmly 20th century and the seven composers represented all make a different contribution with a handful of Sonatines and shorter works for this combination.

Triumphal Music for Organ and Orchestra featuring Franz Hauk and the Philharmonie Ingolstadt is one of a series issued an the Guild Label. Gounod’s epic Fantasie an the Russian Imperial National anthem (used by Tchaikovsky) opens this programme, bat the work that surprised me most was by a little known composer, this side of the Channel.

Theodore Dubois (1837-1924) was premiered in Chicago in 1889, bat its hints of Elgar (or vice versa) is uncanny. A blind-listening would be fun to see how many Elgarians it might catch out. Gounod completes the programme with a Suite concertante, and the impressive recording of the 1977 Ingolstadt organ makes this a valuable release for any organ fan (Guild GMCD 7185).

In a couple of months I shall be featuring Part of Saint-Saens’s Organ Symphony in a programme of film music. If one wants a recording that fairly Lifts one out of one’s Beat,  then a reissue in both stereo and Super Audio by Michael Murray with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by the Tate Michael Murray has to be an the “must have” List.

Those epic chords which herald the re-entry of the organ in the second movement make the hairs an the back of one’s head stand. The Symphony of about 34 minutes duration is complemented by 11 shorter encores for organ (Telarc SACD 60634).

Felicity Lott has to be one of this nation’s favourite classical Bingers, and her 1994 recording with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Armin Jordan has been reissued an the Virgin Label. Champagne justifiably fizzes with orchestral excerpts from operettas by the Strauss family and by Offenbach with arias sang by “Flott” before a “live” audience in the Victoria Hall, Geneva. The Sound is forward and brilliant as befits this repertoire (EMI 5 62406 2).

So to a final selection of music that is hardly mainstream although one of the composers names is linked with music that will be hardly unfamiliar to many. Joseph Canteloube arranged a number ‘ of Songs from the Auvergne region of France, among them Bailero.

His Suite Dans la montagne is one of two works for violin and piano played by Philippe Graffin (violin) and Pascal Devoyon (piano), the other being the first Violin Sonata by Canteloube’s contemporary Pierre de Breville (Hyperion CDA 67427). Music that is conservative in its harmonic I language, bat nevertheless enchanting can be recommended. As for me: I am going back to the sights and the concerts.
Chris Green


Gramophone December 2000

Dubois Hymne nuptialac Gounod Hymne à Sainte Cécileac Gullmant Symphony No 2 in A, Op 91d. Marche élégiaque in C minor, Op 74 No Id. Marche funèbre No 2, Op 41 No 3d Saint-Saëns Romance in B flat, Op 27ac. Sérénade in E flat, Op 15abc

Franz Hauk org asamson Gonaschwili vn bsergei Kuraschwili va cJohanna Maier hp dlngolstadt Philharmonic Orchestra AIfredo Ibarra

Guild GMCD 7187 (69 minutes: DDD)

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).
Marc Rochester


American Record Guide July/August 00  Page 229/230

Seldom-performed pieces-only the Gigout (arr. Ropartz) is familiar to organists. Dubois’s work was premiered in Chicago in 1889. Its simple formal structure reminds one of the composer’s other pieces for organ. This is extremely predictable writing. We’re told that the orchestral bells make the concussion “particularly effective”. Not so.

Guilmant’s Arrangement of his own Adora- tion for solo organ is quite pleasant and reflects his capacity to develop long, spun-out melodies. Nothing surprising here, with a fine balance between organ and orchestra. Why this was programmed escapes me, for there is nothing the least bit triumphant about it. It is a lovely, gentle piece that never exceeds mezzo piano.

Readers who know or have played Grand Choeur Dialogue will understand that some- times the original is better than the arrangement. Buit around the antiphonal principle, it makes an ideal (if overworked) Composition to put the various organ divisions on display. In this Arrangement, the orchestra and organ do not so much have a dialog as take turns. It lacks the clarity and difference in volume one gets from the organ solo original.

The longest piece is Gounod’s arrangement of the Russian anthem by Lvov. This seemingly endless take on the tune strings out a series of simple variations on the melody. The harmonisations are almost identical with the original, so the piece is very easy to follow. But it is a long way to go with little reward.

The concluding Suite Coneertante is the most satisfying piece overall. One senses a good deal of Faust in the opening movement of this 1885 work. A buoyant optimism is in evidence. Unfortunately the orchestra dominates this movement, reducing the organ to occasional commentator. The snappy Allegro con fuoco that follows is punctuated by a typical hunting horn motif, shared alternately by soloist and orchestra. A quiet middle part- which seems to bring out the best from these composers-offers a perfect foil for the bookend bunt theme. A haunting Andante follows, with slow harmonic motion and floating melodies from orchestral and organ soloists. Lovely music here. But the concluding Vivace is a disappointment and rather spoils what occurred earlier.

Obviously this is an uneven recording. Rossini’s comment about Wagner comes to mind: ” (He) has good moments, but bad quarter hours.’ The same applies here. Instead of thrilling fortes and slick juxtapositioning of organ and orchestra, the subtle, musing sections are the best. And while I can’t supply first- hand knowledge of this, I have to admit to a certain suspicion that the acoustics in this church aren’t as incredible as they come across here. I can picture one of the recording technicians twisting the volume knob way to the right just as the conductor gives the cutoff. That aside, the forces are well balanced. Hauk plays well, though it is difficult to judge the difficulty of much that he contributes. The orchestra is quite good, with a fine horn section. If you enjoy “meat and potatoes’ music of this sort, with primarily simple diatonic harmony and memorable melodies, you’ll enjoy this.
METZ


INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW MAY 2000

Gounod Fantaisie sur l’Hymne National Russe. Suite concertante. Dubois Fantaisie triomphale. Guilmant Adoration. Gigout Grand Choeur Dialogué (arr. Ropartz).

The four-manual Klais organ of 1977 at lngolstadt Minster in Southern Germany is well known to organ buffs as an instrument of real class, and British performers (including Thomas Trotter, Graham Barber, Jane Parker-Smith and Nicholas Kynaston), looking for a recording instrument with real power and bite, have beaten a path to its door over the last two decades. It speaks into an acoustic as vast as that of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, with all the attendant problems that that poses the recording engineers. Franz Hauk knows this organ better than anyone, having been organist (and subsequently choir-master) at Ingolstadt since 1982.

Hauk, who seems be making something of a speciality of musie for organ and orchestra, is joined on this disc (and on that below) by Alfredo Ibarra and the local band, the Ingolstadt Philharmonic. The co-ordination of organ and orchestra in such a large space is fraught with difficulty, and it is to Ibarra’s credit that relatively few problems occur. Tuning is less good, with occasional mismatches between organ and instruments (several organ stops are slightly out of true, also). The performances themselves are disappointing. The Ingolstadt brass disgrace themselves at the end of the Dubois Fantaisie triomphale, and Gounod’s Fantaisie sur l’Hymne National Russe (on Lvov’s Tsarist anthem) and Gigout’s Grand Choeur Dialogué absolutely refuse to catch fire. The longest work on the disc, Gounod’s Suite concertante, owes much to that composer’s experience with the lighter side of opera, and is pretty insubstantial fare.

The title of this disc promises much in the way of excitement, but what is served up is rather an indigestible menu of dull music by highly professional composers, capably written and very well orchestrated. Franz Hauk’s and Iris Winkler’s detailed booklet notes make the interesting point that some of these works – including the Suite concertante – were actually composed for pedal piano (as used by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Alkan, too); it would have been novel and fascinating to hear this instrument in the concertante role instead of the organ.
Francis Knights