Poulenc Organ Concerto - Audiophile Audition

This gets my vote as the best classical disc of the month, and one of the three or four very best SACD discs yet. The Poulenc organ concerto is the only 20th century work for that combination of forces that has a place in the standard repertory. Poulenc reported that the work was the most difficult he had ever penned, but his efforts have given us one of the most exciting concertos for any instrument. Basically a Romantic work, the concerto makes some bows in the direction of Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky and mixes the composer's irresistible French joie de vivre with passages of deeply affecting emotional content. His tunes are soaring and inspiring, but with very modern harmonic trappings. As in his liturgical choral works, he seems to be able to successfully blend devout and serious spiritual expression with sophisticated and sensual melodies and harmonies. Weir is a fabulous soloist, and the involving surround puts you in the chapel where the recording was made. There is strong vertical component to the organ reproduction, as heard on the Michael Murray Telarc CD of the Jongen organ concerto. Pierre Petit was a music critic at Le Figaro but also wrote many different works. His concerto is almost as long as the Poulenc and recalls the style of Roussel. The short Barber work provides a celebratory conclusion to the program of this gem of a surround SACD. I give this five stars.


Audiophile Audition
01 April 2002