Olivier Latry

Voyages

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The idea of playing the likes of the "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde on an organ has a distinct air of novelty nowadays, but in fact most of the arrangements on this delightful release by Olivier Latry are more than a century old. The genre was long dismissed as insufficiently high-minded, but now, thanks to Latry, the enjoyment has been allowed to re-emerge. Big names, including Max Reger and even Franz Liszt, whose version of the Chopin Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4, is the oldest work here, number among the arrangers. Both piano and orchestral works are used as sources, and each provides a slightly different flavor. The sense of fun appears immediately with the "Sabre Dance" from Aram Khachaturian's Gayane, showcasing the blazing high register of the new organ at the Paris Philharmonie; this is nicely framed by the Danse macabre, Op. 40, of Saint-Saëns at the end. But the Chopin-Liszt item, the transcription of Liszt's own Der heilige Franziskus von Paula auf den Wogen schreitend by Reger, and the Mendelssohn Variations sérieuses, Op. 54, are another matter: they rely not on the shock of hearing the organ in this situation, but rather on the role of the organ as the bearer for the deepest secrets of Bachian chromaticism and the line of music descended from it. In these works, the organ is a natural receiver of the transcriptions, and one can only regret that these works have been unavailable for so long. The unusually satisfying program thus alternates between fun and intellect, and Erato's engineers provide a bright, slightly splashy sound reminiscent of Columbia's E. Power Biggs recordings of the 1960s and 1970s. Highly recommended.

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