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Thrilling virtuosity

Organ music by
Vierne and Alain -
reviewed by

'... James Lancelot shows throughout how effectively he can command the grand Romantic gesture.'

The Complete Organ Symphonies of Louis Vierne Vol III. © 1999 Priory Records Ltd

Like God, death moves in a mysterious way his exits to arrange. Almost blind for most of his life, Louis Vierne became master of the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame during his thirtieth year. That church of many vicissitudes was watched towards completion by Louis IX, the St Louis who succeeded his father in 1226. It saw the coronations of England's young Henry VI and Corsica's Napoleon Bonaparte. The Revolution produced for it a Goddess of Reason when a dancer from the opera performed on the altar steps, and the mighty building became a wine store. The restored monarchy heard a Te Deum there, and it is safe to say that few musicians in its long history have brought Notre Dame more lustre than Vierne. It was fitting conclusion to a brilliant career as player, improviser and teacher that he should have a fatal heart attack (June 1937) during a recital at the organ he had cherished for more than half his life.

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Copyright © 16 April 2003 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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