Classical CD Reviews

“Tongues of Fire” – CARL RUTTI: Concerto for Organ, Strings & Percussion; Tongues of Fire; ARENSKY: Variations on a theme of Tchaikovsky; POULENC: Concerto for Organ, Timpani & Strings in g – Guild

A worthwhile program of works for organ and orchestra, including the popular Poulenc Concerto.

Published on September 25, 2012

“Tongues of Fire” – CARL RUTTI: Concerto for Organ, Strings & Percussion; Tongues of Fire; ARENSKY: Variations on a theme of Tchaikovsky; POULENC: Concerto for Organ, Timpani & Strings in g – Guild

“Tongues of Fire” – CARL RUTTI: Concerto for Organ, Strings & Percussion; Tongues of Fire; ARENSKY: Variations on a theme of Tchaikovsky; POULENC: Concerto for Organ, Timpani & Strings in g – Guild GMCD 7386. 74:08 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

(Martin Heini, organ; Mario Schubiger, percussion; State Philharmonic Ch. Orch. of Novosibirsk/ Rainer Held; Martin Heini, solo organ in Tongues of Fire)

Although the Poulenc Organ Concerto has multichannel SACD competition from Linn, Oehms and Ondine, this is a fine performance and the other three works on the disc are of prime interest. Swiss organist Heini and countryman conductor Held have assembled a fine program, the young musicians of Novosibirsk support them in excellent fashion, and the sonics are first-rate.

The Concerto is the second from Swiss composer Rütti, who is an expert organist himself. Organist Heini requested the concerto from him. The percussion he has added to the string orchestra consists of tom-toms, cymbals, temple blocks, snare drum, tambourine and triangle. Rutti, like Messiaen, is fascinating with bird song, and in his case especially with that of the blackbird. There is a toccata-like section in the first movement with the sound of birdsong. The very short third movement of the four is a “Blackbird Scherzino,” and the final movement uses a carol Rutti wrote for an Oxford Carols series, plus a recap of materials from the preceding movements.

Tongues of Fire for solo organ is based on the chant Veni sancte spiritus and uses both the songs of a dove and blackbird. The interesting seven-minute work ends with a most virtuosic passage. Arensky used a theme from Tchaikovsky’s Sixteen Children’s Songs for his work for organ and chamber orchestra. It also became the second movement of his second string quartet.

—John Sunier




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