Organists' Review

Why did Widor entitle the sixth movement of his second symphony Adagio and then direct it to be played Andante? Still, Symphonie is a misnomer too in the general absence of movements in Sonata form. Moving on, though …

Unerringly Cavaillé-Coll and a superb acoustic ambience captivate and grab us—by the ears and indeed by the throat [lumps in the] from bar one. Unbounded admiration, as Widor judges to a nicety the moment to call forth Swell reeds. Delightful acciaccaturas adorn the high flute melodies of the ensuing Allegr[ett?]o. The energetic Intermezzo harks forward to the Intermezzo of the Sixth Symphony. It too belies its title by sounding more important than its surroundings. The Adagio astounds with the gorgeous positif gambas and celestial voices. So to the preposterous "Pontiff's Progress"! Terrific! Maybe a little terrifying … pompous swagger meets subject incorporating all 12 semitones randomly in its wayward course. The end is serious, uncompromising, no tierce from Picardy relieves its final cadence.

Symphonie 2 offers equal delight. This version incorporates the anomalous-seeming Salve Regina movement substituted in the 1901 edition, as well as the chirpy Scherzo it replaced. The recording clarity is remarkable, only final chords revealing that we have been enjoying the fruits of some six seconds of reverberation. Joseph Nolan—formerly organist of St James's Palace, and, from 2008, of Perth Cathedral, Australia—is an utterly persuasive executant at the console. Thoroughly enjoyable.