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<<  -- 2 --  David Thompson    A marked contrast


I have to say that I do not warm nearly so readily to the Vierne coupling. The mood here is altogether more dour and serious, and the overall pessimism is virtually unrelieved. This is hardly surprising, in view of the multiple tragedies that assailed Vierne at the time of composition, which, as detailed in the admirable notes, read like the more purple passages of the Book of Job. When feelings are so overtly unburdened, it does not make for comfortable listening. I am not convinced either, that Vierne is entirely at ease with the genre in which he has chosen to express his thoughts. Textures are rather thick and blurred -- startlingly so when heard in the wake of the Hahn -- and reminiscent of Reger at his most complex. Perhaps both were most at home in the organ loft. The musical style also recalls Fauré, and even early Berg in the tonal ambiguity, but is devoid of clarity.

There are moments of inspiration and beauty in the Vierne -- listen, for example, to the haunting second subject of the first movement, but so often, the musical argument becomes mere gesture, a rather limited gesture at that, in the predominance of such devices as piano octaves, which become merely tedious.

It has to be said that, as in the Hahn, the performers put as strong a case as possible for the work. Those with a taste for the later excesses of brooding romanticism may well disagree with my rather negative impressions. Perhaps the presence of the Hahn invites unfair comparisons, but that very presence moves me to urge you to buy this disc, worth its price for the Hahn alone. I would recommend, however, that you reprogram your player as to finish your session with the Hahn. You will certainly be in a more hedonistic frame of mind if you do so.

Exemplary performances, excellent recording and presentation, and, as I said previously, you may well enjoy the Vierne more than I did.

Copyright © 24 November 2001 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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