Organ music by
Vierne and Alain -
'... James Lancelot shows throughout how effectively he can command the grand Romantic gesture.'
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.
Copyright © 16 April 2003
Robert Anderson, London, UK