The Organ

Louis James Alfred Lefebure-Wely: Ausgewahlte Orgelwerke

Reinhard Kluth at the Weimbs-Orgel of St Gertrud Dusseldorf-Eller
69' 47"

The life and output of Lefebure-Wely has attracted increasing interest during the past twenty years or so, and his important place at the crossroads of French liturgical organ music is now more fully understood and appreciated. He was a composer of his time, writing and improvising within the expected conventions of Parisian churches in the mid-19th century. However, Lefebure-Wely utilised his gifts with undoubted skill and panache, which thrilled congregations and led the young organ builder Cavaille-Coll to engage him to perform many opening concerts of his large instruments, including St Sulpice where he was the first organist.

Reinhard Kluth's programme clearly illustrates the stylistic differences between the gentle liturgical pieces required for low mass and vesper services with the much grander Offertoires which were required at High Mass where the lengthy ceremony of the 'offertory' allowed the organist unbounded opportunity for display (on this disc the C major lasts almost twelve and a half minutes!). The bustling Marche in D, which opens the disc, is a fine example of the relaxed, entertaining style, which so delighted his fans as they moved from church to the delights awaiting them in the squares and boulevards outside. Reinhard Kluth's well-balanced programme derives from the composer's three main published works: 'Six Grands Offertoires' of 1857, 'The Meditaciones Religiosas' of 1858 and 'The Modern Organist' of 1867. Listeners might be surprised how well this music suits the Weimbs two manual, which has recently been constructed in the style of the famous late 18th century Rhineland builder J L Konig. The music is supremely well played, and Kluth succeeds in communicating the improvisatory style of much of the music. I particularly enjoyed the engaging Religiosas minatures where the Recit des Hautbois and Andante (Choeur des Voix humaines) are deliciously delightful.

Lefebure-Wely's music was often re-arranged for other instruments and the CD includes with his major 'hit' the 4th offertoire. The catchy theme written in the minor key became the rage of Paris and was affectionately known as La Madeleine where the composer was organist at the time.

Reinhard Kluth has explored remoter areas of Lefebure-Wely's output on this excellent disc and has displayed further material, which should find its way into the concert repertoire. GB