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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66917
Recording details: July 1996
HallgrŪmskirkja, ReykjavŪk, Iceland
Produced by Paul Spicer
Engineered by Paul Niederberger
Release date: April 1997
Total duration: 6 minutes 12 seconds

'This performance [Reubke] surpasses any version yet to appear on CD. I can't think of any other organ record which I've found so unfailingly magnificent' (Gramophone)

DeuxiŤme Offertoire sur des NoŽls, Op 33

Introduction  EnglishFranÁaisDeutsch
Like Widor and Lefébure-Wély, Alexandre Guilmant was part of an organist dynasty, comprising both builders and players, and succeeded his father at St-Nicolas in Boulogne-sur-Mer at the age of twenty. He was first heard in Paris at the inauguration of the Cavaillé-Coll organ at St-Sulpice in 1862 and immediately caught the attention of the public. His extensive touring brought him worldwide fame as both performer and composer, whilst at home he was one of the most influential teachers of his time.

During the eighteenth century a tradition grew up of improvising on popular carols during Mass at Christmas, apparently leading many players to inappropriate excess during the Offertoire. In his Deuxième Offertoire sur des Noëls, Guilmant muses on four carols, without ever overstepping the boundaries of taste. A straightforward chordal setting of ‘Voici le jour solennel’ for full organ opens the work and a diminuendo leads to an extended pastorale section with a lilting melody for the hautbois. A restrained climax leads to a reprise of this tune, now combined with ‘Puer nobis nascitur’ in the left hand. Over a pedal point a brief prelude ushers in the jaunty ‘Joseph est bien marié’ which is developed both imitatively and sequentially before a jubilant rendition of ‘A minuit fut fait réveil’, using the full compass of the organ. A short coda based on ‘Puer nobis nascitur’ brings the work to a joyous close.

from notes by Stephen Westrop © 1997

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