Christopher Jacobson / Kazuki Yamada

Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Widor

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This 2019 Pentatone hybrid SACD features organist Christopher Jacobsen performing three works that have become beloved showpieces, the Symphony No. 3 in C minor ("Organ") of Camille Saint-Saëns, Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor, and the flashy Toccata finale from Charles-Marie Widor's Organ Symphony No. 5 in F minor. Backed by Kazuki Yamada and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Jacobsen delivers clean and precise playing, which is not too hard to achieve in the Saint-Saëns and the Poulenc works, because even though there are issues of timing and coordination with the orchestra, the actual organ parts aren't technically demanding. The reverse is true in the Widor Toccata, which is a popular knuckle-buster that gives even a virtuoso organist a workout. Listeners familiar with these works will find the interpretations to be conventional and unsurprising, so the main consideration must be the sound of this multichannel recording, made in Geneva's Victoria Hall. Pentatone captures the organ with clear details, which are perhaps difficult to appreciate in the symphony's quiet Poco Adagio movement, but vivid in the Finale, and dramatic and powerful in Poulenc's concerto. Highly recommended, especially for fans of organ extravaganzas.

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