David's Review Corner
, August 2007
While organ enthusiasts are going to be delighted with a disc packed with Widor's 'Greatest Moments', it will leave them wondering what might have been had Robert Delcamp been entrusted with Widor's complete symphonies. It was Charles-Marie Widor's sixty-four years at the Saint-Suplice in Paris from 1869 that was to bring such a volcanic change to French organ music, the sheer size and scope of his compositions possible at the keyboard of the monster Cavaille-Coll instrument sending shock waves around the organ world. He left behind a massive catalogue of works in many genres including opera and ballet, but it is his organ music by which he will be best remembered, and particularly with the ten solo organ symphonies. The present disc picks out favourite movements from five of the symphonies and gives us the complete Fifth with the 'pop'classic Toccata finale. Yet Widor became so wedded to his Saint-Suplice instrument that it coloured his concept of organ composition to an extent that you really only experience the complete Widor when played on a Cavaille-Coll. Sadly the booklet with this disc tells us nothing about the Martin Pasi organ in the Omaha Cathedral in Nebraska, save for its basic specification. That simply is not good enough. Though the instrument is well able to handle the composer's massive outbursts with that tingle factor all great Widor performances need, I miss the pungency of a Cavaille-Coll's reeds that I love so much. The outstanding Cincinnati musician, Robert Delcamp, has already given Naxos three outstanding volumes of the organ music of Dupre, and though some may be a little disappointed that the famous Toccata is not taken at the furious pace we are accustomed to hearing, we still enjoy his considerable virtuosity. Combine the player, instrument and recording engineer and you have more detail and clarity than we hear in the bulk of Widor recordings,
the thundering bass capable of having your speakers jumping around.