Carillon de Westminster - Ursina Caflisch (Organ)

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CARILLON DE WESTMINSTER - Organ Works by Various Composers - Ursina Caflisch (Organ) - Guild GMCD7340

A fine new recording of known and unknown organ works all performed with insight by organist Ursina Caflisch, who completed her studies as a pupil of Piet Kee, and who is also an active driving force behind the musical life of Switzerland. The programme, according to the booklet notes, was selected to demonstrate the qualities of this 52-stop instrument, built in 1872 and renovated in 1926. It was first installed in Zürich's Old Town Hall, but eventually dismantled and re-built in 1995, where it now resides, in the Neumünster Zürich. It is not a bright, clear and detailed instrument that would easily define all the finer details of a Bach fugue for example, but it is right at home here with the works recorded on this new Guild CD. Unfortunately, the booklet does not contain a list of the organ's stops.

The music starts with a proud Preludio Grand Jeu by Michel Corrette, taken from his 'First Organ Book' of 1737. A piece that well demonstrates this organ's predominant reed and trumpet stops. A well balanced and perfectly voiced reading of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland by Johann Sebastian Bach is next on the menu. Pieces by better known organist/composers like Josef Gabriel Rheinberger and Théodore Dubois again bring out the instrument's rich orchestral palette, and demonstrate the versatility Caflisch brings to the table. What will be of more interest to all the dedicated organ music collectors out there, are the few rarely if ever recorded works by more obscure composers like Ernst Friedrich Richter (1808-1879), Samuel Rousseau (1853-1904) and Carl Türcke (1866-?). All works that fit this organ's sound very well, and compare well to the more famous names around them. And, of course, the showpiece on this recording is the famous Carillon de Westminster by Louis Vierne, and organist of great stature. It's an organ piece that demands great concentration from the player, with its constant oscillating figures in the right hand, the main chimes motif and momentum in the left hand, and the big bell effects in the pedals. Although Ursina Caflisch tends to overdo the swell pedal effects here and there during the piece, she does bring out the work's constant sense of momentum and steady crescendo, and ends on a commanding note, with the organ's full power on display.

A recording tailor made for collectors and completists, be it for choice of composers, works, or even instrument. A well balanced programme made-to-measure for this 19th century inspired organ, well captured on this, Guild's second recording with organist Ursina Caflisch.

Jean-Yves Duperron - September 2010