ORGAN WORKS: Dupré, Langlais, Vierne, Litaize, Messiaen, Ropartz
Colin Walsh at the organ of Lincoln Cathedral.
GUILD GMCD 7278
I am not over-given to superlatives, but the only word I could think of to describe this CD – and the playing – was ‘sumptuous’. Nor was it an adjective that took long to come. As soon as the first chords of Langlais’ Suite Brève crashed in to my study, I ‘was away’.
The combination of the late Father Willis at Lincoln and Colin Walsh’s playing is altogether on a higher plane then even the higher-rated CDs. The choice of registration, tempi, phrasing, dynamic and everything else that the top-notch player has fully worked out and implemented are here in abundance. The Willis and the building play their full part too, of course. The softer registers – flutes, strings, celestes, quiet reeds, all impart this CD with a very special flavour, as for example in Litaize’s Scherzo. It is difficult to single out any one piece: I had a predilection for Messiaen’s Offrande au Saint Sacrement, with its wandering flute solo and slow-paced celestial chords. Then again, I could not resist re-playing Langlais’ Incantation pour un jour Saint, where player, instrument and cathedral seemed to be at one. But this is unfair – to single out particular works: this all-French CD is of an evenly high quality. There is the excitement of the ‘Evocations’ by Langlais and Dupré and the further subtleties of Ropartz’s Prélude Funèbre; Vierne’s Trois Improvisations and Litaize’s Lied and Epiphanie to come. Buy this disc if you are at all interested in high-quality playing of romantic French organ music. Very highly recommended indeed.