Yves Rechsteiner

Ugab, Vol. 1: Cintegabelle (France, 1742)

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Ugab, the name of a series of organ recordings on the Alpha label, is a Hebrew word from the Psalms thought to mean an instrument that was a forerunner of the organ. The aim of the series is to highlight a variety of the great organs of the world in repertoire for which they are especially well suited with an emphasis on their physical setting and to offer copious photographs of the organ and its setting to provide a visual as well as aural experience. This first installment features the organ of the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cintegabelle, in southern France. Judging from the recording, it's a magnificent instrument, with vast timbral variety, housed in a space with a clean but nicely reverberant acoustic. Yves Rechsteiner plays an eccentric but thoroughly engaging program: transcriptions he has made of music from the operas of Rameau, some including percussion and some requiring a third hand. The operas are appropriate material because they date from around the time the organ was built and consecrated in the mid-18th century. The brief pieces are mostly arrangements of dances from the operas, but also include airs, a chorus, and an overture. The music is largely sprightly, light-hearted, and elegant, and some of it, like the selections from the comedy Platée, is gleefully silly, but there are several contemplative airs that use the most delicate registrations. These selections don't represent the Baroque at its most profound, but they are unfailingly delightful, played with exceptional grace and style. Rechsteiner's arrangements (the theory and execution of which are discussed in great depth in the program notes) make inventive use of the array of the instrument's sonorous possibilities, and the album is notable for the colorful range of the registrations. Percussionist Henri-Charles Caget and "third hand" Vincent Bernhardt provide capable support on several tracks. The sound of Alpha's SACD, which can be played on conventional systems but was designed for optimal effect to be played in surround sound, is clear and spacious.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Les Indes Galantes
1 5:10
2 2:16
3 2:25
4 1:43
5 3:11
6 3:04
Hippolyte et Aricie
7 2:30
Les Indes Galantes
8 4:12
Les Boréades
9 2:40
10 3:06
Les Indes Galantes
11 3:30
12 2:40
13 6:38
14 2:21
Hippolyte et Aricie
15 1:16
16 1:30
Castor et Pollux
17 5:50
18 4:00
19 4:04
Les Fêtes d'Hébé
20 2:15
Les Indes Galantes
21 1:17
22 5:26
23 6:18
blue highlight denotes track pick