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A "king of instruments" spectacular
on 15 March 2012
Now here's a bargain: two old Telarc issues combined into one 76 minute CD offering a definitive performance of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony in spectacular sound and a fine sweep of French organ music from Couperin to Dupré. Made in Ormandy's last year at the helm of the Philadelphia, it serves as a fine memorial to a conductor at his best. While I love both the vintage recordings from the same team with Power Biggs in 1959 and Munch, the Boston Symphony and Zamkochian in 1962,this is digital and enhanced by the nine bonus tracks providing the French survey, all played by Michael Murray in Boston. My favourites are the Widor Toccata and the Bach Sinfonia.
Ormandy's interpretation changed hardly a jot over the years: it is strong and propulsive with a good few nervy accelerandi and not much Gallic charm; he clearly saw this as mostly a wild ride. The orchestral sound is massive and robust; this is not a subtle performance but this music is, after all, a display piece with great tunes, not the Goldbergs.