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» January 2013 Releases
Widor: The Organ Symphonies, Vol.2
The Cavaille-Coll organ of La Madeleine, ParisJoseph Nolan
Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13, Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13
Volume 2 in a new collection of Charles-Marie Widor’s Organ Symphonies, performed by Joseph Nolan on the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ of L’église de la Madeleine, Paris.
Bridging the generations from Mendelssohn to Messiaen, Empire to Republic, Widor was born to the organ. His Lyonnaise kinsfolk were organ-builders, he showed early talent for the instrument, and for decades was the embodiment of its might and splendour across the Gallic domain - his ‘Organ Symphonies’ were genre-defining in their influence.
Joseph Nolan is an internationally renowned organist, acclaimed as ‘brilliant and such an astute musician’ (Gramophone UK). He was appointed to Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal, St James’s Palace in 2004, and has since been invited to perform and record in some of the world’s premiere venues – including the refurbished Organ of Buckingham Palace Ballroom (SIGCD114) and the Organ of Saint-Sulpice in Paris (SIGCD167). The Cavaillé-Coll Organ of La Madeleine, Paris is a similarly renowned instrument, with former chief-organists including Camille Saint-Säens and Gabriel Fauré.
What people are saying
"The recording clarity is remarkable, only final chords revealing that we have been enjoying the fruits of some six seconds of reverberation. Joseph Nolan … is an utterly persuasive executant at the console. Thoroughly enjoyable." Organists Review, May 2013
"Just consider the wonderful contrast as Joseph Nolan moves from the gentle, floating phrases of the Allegretto to the skittish playfulness and power of the Intermezzo. The Marche pontificale (like the Toccata from the 5th symphony) is certainly more familiar and here given a rousing, full-blooded romp which fires the blood." Lark Reviews, May 2013
"This looks like shaping up to be the Widor Organ Symphonies cycle of the decade" Musicweb International, August 2013
Release date: 14th Jan 2012
Order code: SIGCD319
|1.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: I Prelude - Andante||Charles-Marie Widor||6.25|
|2.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: II Allegretto||Charles-Marie Widor||7.53|
|3.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: III Intermezzo - Allegro||Charles-Marie Widor||4.04|
|4.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: IV Adagio||Charles-Marie Widor||6.47|
|5.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: V Marche pontificale||Charles-Marie Widor||7.33|
|6.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: VI Méditation||Charles-Marie Widor||3.07|
|7.||Organ Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.13 No.1: VII Finale - Allegro||Charles-Marie Widor||4.37|
|8.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: I Praeludium circulare - Andantino||Charles-Marie Widor||5.29|
|9.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: II Pastorale - Moderato||Charles-Marie Widor||5.23|
|10.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: III Andante||Charles-Marie Widor||9.26|
|11.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: IV Salve Regina - Allegro||Charles-Marie Widor||5.41|
|12.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: V Scherzo - Allegro||Charles-Marie Widor||3.04|
|13.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: VI Adagio - Andante||Charles-Marie Widor||4.22|
|14.||Organ Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.13, No.2: VII Finale - Allegro||Charles-Marie Widor||4.14|
These two works launched Charles-Marie Widor’s entirely new genre the organ symphony onto an entirely unsuspecting public. Hailed by Widor biographer and editor John R. Near as “the greatest contribution to organ literature since the works of Johan Sebastian Bach”, their significance was also not lost on their creator, and he returned to them at various stages in his life to revise them.
Musicweb International, Dominy Clements
The first volume of Nolan's survey of all the Widor organ symphonies unsurprisingly dispatched the most popular numbers (5 & 6). Volume 2 features the first two symphonies. While ground-breaking in their symphonic concept, Widor's ideas are still developing in an exploration of different tonal and structural possibilities. In the wrong hands these disparate movements can lack cohesion, but there is no doubting that Nolan's great affinity with this music really lifts the notes off the page. The organ of La Madeleine is beautiful in the softer movements, but I couldn't help longing for Widor's instrument at St Sulpice in the tutti passages, which would deliver more grandeur and clarity.
Choir & Organ, Rupert Gough
The first volume in this series had coupled the sixth and fifth symphonies, both probably better known than the first and second, even to regular followers of organ concerts.
The first symphony was worked on regularly by the composer over many years and appears in five different versions. Though the notes are extensive they do not tell us which version Joseph Nolan is playing – not that that need inhibit our enjoyment of his performance. The symphony is in fact seven loosely connected and contrasted movements, which give the organist many opportunities to demonstrate not only his technical finesse but the splendid range and subtlety of the Madeleine Cavaille-Coll. Just consider the wonderful contrast as Joseph Nolan moves from the gentle, floating phrases of the Allegretto to the skittish playfulness and power of the Intermezzo. The Marche pontificale (like the Toccata from the 5th symphony) is certainly more familiar and here given a rousing, full-blooded romp which fires the blood.
The second symphony goes even further in its demands for range and texture, with movements vying for our attention. The Pastorale is particularly effective, the solo voice ringing out in the vibrant acoustic like a pipe across the valleys. By contrast the Salve Regina seems to hark back to the baroque in both style and registration, the organ coping brilliantly with both. The bright reeds come into their own for the vibrant Scherzo, before a haunting Adagio and the final Allegro which deserves to be as well known as the more popular finale to the fifth!
The notes give us appropriate background to the compositions, but the analysis may be a little too technical for the non-organ buff.
Given the rich acoustic of La Madeleine there is no such thing as silence. When the music dies there is still a very strong sense of place. A pity then that the engineers have chosen to cut off each movement with actual silence, rather than allow us to stay in the building, as we would in a live performance.
Lark Reviews, Brian Hick
Why did Widor entitle the sixth movement of his second symphony Adagio and then direct it to be played Andante? Still, Symphonie is a misnomer too in the general absence of movements in Sonata form. Moving on, though…
Unerringly Cavaillé-Coll and a superb acoustic ambience captivate and grab us – by the ears and indeed by the throat [lumps in the] from bar one. Unbounded admiration, as Widor judges to a nicety the moment to call forth Swell reeds. Delightful acciaccaturas adorn the high flute melodies of the ensuing Allegr[ett?]o. The energetic Intermezzo harks forward to the Intermezzo of the Sixth Symphony. It too belies its title by sounding more important than its surroundings. The Adagio astounds with the gorgeous positif gambas and celestial voices. so to the preposterous "Pontiff's Progress"! Terrific! Maybe a little terrifying … pompous swagger meets subject incorporating all 12 semitones randomly in its wayward course. The end is serious, uncompromising, no tierce from Picardy relieves its final cadence.
Symphonie 2 offers equal delight. This version incorporates the anomalous-seeming Salve Regina movement substituted in the 1901 edition, as well as the chirpy Scherzo it replaced. The recording clarity is remarkable, only final chords revealing that we have been enjoying the fruits of some six seconds of reverberation. Joseph Nolan - formerly organist of St James's Palace, and, from 2008, of Perth Cathedral, Australia - is an utterly persuasive executant at the console. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Michael Bell, Organists' Review