SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

VIERNE – WIDOR – LANGLAIS: Masses – [TrackList follows] Choir and Organs of the Cologne Hohen Dom – Organists: Winfried Bönig & Ulrich Brüggemann – Motette

Three shorter masses featuring double organs, and three interesting organ solos.

Published on March 28, 2013

VIERNE – WIDOR – LANGLAIS: Masses – [TrackList follows] Choir and Organs of the Cologne Hohen Dom – Organists: Winfried Bönig & Ulrich Brüggemann – Motette multichannel SACD 50814, 78:12 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Don’t be surprised by this collection of French masses and organ works being performed in a German cathedral. This one in Cologne has as large an interior as most French cathedrals and the choir organ has 53 stops, vs. only 21 at Vierne’s St. Sulpice.

The opening Vierne mass from 1900 leaves the Classical age in the past and moves into the new harmonies revealed by Debussy and Ravel. It was an effort to make church music a part of the recent developments in music, and has many similarities to his teacher Widor’s Mass in F Sharp Minor of 1878, the second mass on this CD. However, the earlier work is much more conservative harmonically, though it also uses both the Choir Organ and the Main Organ.

Langlais’ Messe Solenelle of 1949 is the most difficult of his 13 masses. It divides the choir into seven parts and the meter constantly changes. It is obviously some distance beyond the two earlier masses musically. The two pipe organs heard in all three add a distinctive sound when they play together and their sounds resonant in the vast acoustics of the cathedral, especially in the fine hi-res surround of this Mottette SACD.

The three works for solo organ which are inserted into the program are most interesting. Vierne’s water-nymphs (Naiades) play around in best impressionistic fashion, and could easily fit into Debussy’s faun’s world.  The Adagio from his Organ Symphony No. 3 is a quiet movement featuring the celeste stop, which serves to introduce the virtuosic grand finale of the symphony. Hakim’s 1986 three-movement work, The Embrace of Fire, introduces each one with a verse from the Bible. (Hakim succeeded Messiaen as organist at the Eglise de la Trinite.) The second movement makes spectacular use of the main organ’s horizontal trumpets in depicting a display of fireworks—the apocalypse to come.

TrackList:
VIERNE: Mass solenelle in C-Sharp Minor; Naiades; WIDOR: Mass in F Sharp Minor; Adagio from Sym. No. 3; LANGLAIS: Mass Solenelle; NAJI HAKIM: Satz movement from The Embrace of Fire

—John Sunier




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