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Cat. No. CHAN 10315 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10315 - Alain/ Duruflé: Dances of Life and Death
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Available From: 07 March 2005
For Jehan Alain, the dance was a medium through which his musical genius expressed itself powerfully and expressively. His Trois Dances (1940) are perhaps his masterpiece, and embody his essential narrative of the dance: life and death, movement and stasis, joy and suffering. Started in 1937, the Dances were completed just before the composer’s untimely death in 1940, lending the music an eerily premonitory character. Le Jardin suspendu (1934) is a subtle and mystical Chaconne in which Alain creates an impressionistic soundworld redolent of the East. The plainsong theme of Lucis Creator (1932) is presented on a four foot reed in the pedal, while the manuals carry majestic chords above. Eventually, the theme is presented in a fugal working which builds to a climax with the theme triumphantly stated in the pedals. Like a whirlwind of motor energy, Litanies (1937) is perhaps Alain’s most celebrated piece. The theme is drawn from the Easter liturgy, and if it is not a comfortable piece, itis nevertheless a gripping ride through to the final chord. Aria (1938) is a beautifully lyrical piece, which requires great technical skill. It is inexplicably neglected by organists. Deux Danses à Agni Yavishta (1932–34) comprises two miniature dances dedicated to Agni, the Sanskrit God of Fire. ‘Yavishta’ means ‘the very young’ and something of this youthful vigour is in evidence in the insistent ostinato of the first dance. The Danse lent of Maurice Duruflé is the middle movement of his Trois Danses, Op. 6. Written in 1932, the dances are for large orchestra in the manner of Debussy, including extended percussion section and saxophone. The Prélude et Fugue sur le nom D’Alain needs no introduction. Beloved of organists around the world, it is one of the twentieth century’s great interpretations of the Prelude/Fugue combination.
"For Jehan Alain, the dance was a medium through which his musical genius expressed itself powerfully and expressively. His Trois Dances (1940) are perhaps his masterpiece, and embody his essential narrative of the dance: life and death, movement and stasis, joy and suffering. Started in 1937, the Dances were completed just before the composer’s untimely death in 1940, lending the music an eerily premonitory character. "
Reviews

This is one of the most attractive organ discs that I have come across in the recent past. The whole programme is extremely intelligently devised and presented… The booklet notes are informative and well written… Amusing, too, are Alain’s cartoons, which are dotted around the booklet. But what appeals most are the performances and the recording. Whitehead has an instinctive feel for this repertoire and a technique to match. The crisp voicing and attack of the splendid organ is Auxerre Cathedral is likewise more than equalled by the sophistication of the recording.
International Record Review

The engineering is excellent; a wonderfully resonant space… England seems to have a knack of developing young organists who become quickly proficient in the French literature. I hope to hear more from this excellent talent.
American Record Guide

But what appeals most are the performances and the recoding. Whitehead has an instinctive feel for this repertoire and a technique to match. The crisp voicing and attack of the splendid organ in Auxerre Cathedral is likewise more than equalled by the sophistication of the recording.
International Record Review

 

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