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Poulenc Organ Concerto -

03 December 2001

The Scottish company Linn Records produces classical and jazz recordings [and] has an established reputation for quality in both performance and sonics. The organ collection was recorded at St. Augustine's Chapel, Tonbridge School, in October 2000 and July 2001. Dame Gillian Weir has a distinguished career and over the years made many fine recordings including all of Bach's organ music. Today she is known particularly for her interpretation of music of Olivier Messiaen. On this new recording she plays three widely different works beginning with the familiar Poulenc concerto for organ, strings and timpani, given a dramatic reading tastefully low on bombast, appropriately sensitive in the many retrospective interludes. Pierre Petit, best known as music critic for Le Figaro for 25 years, wrote many works including concertos, operettas, ballets and chamber music. His Concertino was composed in 1958 for Pierre Cochereau who premiered it that year in Australia. In three movements, it ends with a sprightly very French-sounding Modéré which has a rather ominous organ cadenza before its racy conclusion. It is not a major work in repertory for organ and orchestra, nor is Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva, written in 1960. This was a commission by Mary Curtis Bok Zimbalist to be performed at the first concert featuring the new organ she had donated to Philadelphia's Academy of Music. Paul Callaway was soloist at the premiere with Eugene Ormandy conducting (Ormandy later recorded the work with E. Power Biggs). In spite of its occasional "big" effects, Toccata is a boring work without a tune to remember. Weir, the ECO and two conductors involved offer splendid performances with a big, natural resonant "church" sound and plenty of low organ pedals to test your woofers.

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