Lefébure-Wély was something of a child prodigy as an organist, giving his first recital at the age of eight. He followed his father as organist of St Roch, then was at the Madeleine church from 1847 to 1858 before becoming organist of St Sulpice in 1863. He took a particular interest in the harmonium, writing a number of pieces for it, and was famous in Paris for his organ improvisations with which he could draw the crowds. As with Batiste, his skills as a composer were influenced by the music of the opera house. A 1938 music dictionary described his skills as follows: ‘From the piquancy of his harmonies, the fertility of his imagination which pervaded all he did, he might be called the Auber of the organ’ (Auber is best known as the composer of the comic opera Fra Diavolo
Lefébure-Wély flourished in an era when the streets of Paris could be charged with a politically explosive atmosphere, but as the faithful left at the end of the mass they could face the conflagrations charged with joyous musical feux d’artifice of which this exuberant Sortie is a giant firecracker.
from notes by Ian Carson © 1992