Dom André Laberge

Bach

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Dom André Laberge is the organist assigned to the beautiful Wilhelm organ in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Benoît-du-Lac in Quebec, where he is also a Prior and Novice Master. Along the way, Laberge has made some generally outstanding recordings for the Canadian Analekta labels and a one-off contribution to an Organ Historical Society survey of historic organs in Montréal; a former student of Gustav Leonhardt, he has also recorded on harpsichord. Atma Classique's Bach is his first entry for this label, and it's a very good recital, chosen not as a peremptory challenge to Johann Sebastian Bach's entire organ output nor centered in some subset of that repertoire. It contains favorite works of this particular player, drawn from the whole of Bach's organ music, including the Fantaisie in G major, BWV 572, seven selected chorales from the Orgelbüchlein, his Partita on "Sei gegrüsset" BWV 768, the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548, and the Trio Sonata in E minor, BWV 528. Laberge's program is structured exactly as one might expect to hear in a regular, all-Bach organ recital given in a public concert, with the first half coming at the end of the Partita. Laberge's playing is no-nonsense, but has plenty of depth and character -- the opening Fantaisie particularly well worth hearing. The organ at Saint Benoît-du-Lac, installed since 1999, sounds terrific; full specs on the organ are included in the booklet. Atma Classique's recording is very clear, especially on the top end; during one of the chorales the high overtones in the organ in one registration can be heard beating around up in the air. The recording could stand to have more bottom than it does, but the listener will not likely object to the lack of low end once he/she has heard the overall clarity of the recording, the sound of the instrument, and the special qualities of the player. Maybe Atma Classique should consider issuing this in a hybrid or surround CD format in order to please those of us who are nuts about pedal, but otherwise this Bach organ disc goes off without a hair out of place and is easily recommendable.

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