About this Recording
8.553524 - VIERNE: Organ Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6

Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Organ Symphony No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 28
Organ Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 59


The French organist and composer Louis Vierne was born in Poitiers in 1870. He was almost blind at birth and was encouraged by his uncle, Charles Colin, a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, to study music at the Institution des jeunes aveugles, after the family had settled in Paris in 1877. There his studies included piano, organ and violin and he completed his training at the Institution with the highest honours. He went on to study with César Franck, by whose music and playing he had been strongly impressed, and after Franck's death he entered the organ class of Widor at the Conservatoire, later deputising for and finally succeeding his teacher as organist at St Sulpice. He served as an assistant to Widor and to Guilmant at the Conservatoire and from 1912 taught at the Schola Cantorum. In 1900 he competed successfully for the position of organist at Notre Dame and retained this employment until his death in 1937, during the course of his 1750th recital.

Apart from a period spent in Switzerland during the war, when his health had suffered, Vierne centred his activities on Paris, although he also appeared in concert recitals throughout Europe and in the United States of America. As a teacher his pupils included Nadia Boulanger, Maurice Duruflé, André Fleury, Marcel Dupre and Joseph Bonnet. As a composer his declared aim was to stir the emotions of his audience. Influenced by his teachers and by Debussy, he developed his own musical idiom, rich in harmony, complex in contrapuntal development and often orchestral in conception. His creative career can be divided into three periods, the earliest the period of his first two Organ Symphonies, written in 1899 and 1903, the second a period from 1905 to the end of the war, which includes the third and fourth symphonies, and a final period that includes the four volumes of pièces de fantaisie.

Organ Symphony No. 3 in F sharp minor, Opus 28, is dedicated to Vierne's pupil, the great organist and composer Marcel Dupré, who deputised for Vierne at Notre Dame from 1916 to 1922. It was written in 1911 at Saint-Valéry en Caux at the Dupré family house and it was Dupr é who gave the first performance of the work at the Salle Gaveau on 12 March 1912. The first of the five movements, marked Allegro maestoso, imposing in its magnificence, contrasts two themes, the first energetic in its dotted rhythms and the second more lyrical, accompanied chromatically. The second movement, Cantilène, is in contrast, both in colouring and mood. It is a relatively languid and extended song, exploiting the resources of the romantic organ. This is followed by the Intermezzo, a movement that suggests the form of a scherzo. It makes use of two themes, the first rhythmic and the second more melodic, in almost operatic contrast. The Adagio is a movement of great and extended beauty to which the final movement, in the manner of a carillon-toccata, forms a contrast, bringing the symphony to a brilliant and impressive conclusion.

Vierne's Organ Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 59, was written at Menton during the summer of 1930, influenced by the climate and beauty of the South. It was first performed on 3 June 1934 by Maurice Duruflé at Notre Dame in Paris. The symphony is dedicated to the Canadian-born organist Lynwood Farnam, who had made his career principally in New York. The first of the five movements, lntroduction et Allegro, at first offers two themes that are to assume later importance in the symphony. Both are taken up in the Allegro and are worked out in conflict in which the first theme finally predominates. Following his practice of adding a movement to the customary symphonic four-movement form, Vierne now adds an Aria in which a reed stop is used for the lyrical phrase from which the movement develops, with its long-drawn melodic line, set off against a gently shimmering accompaniment. The third movement is a Scherzo, with a lively theme that suggests the Gothic grotesques of Notre Dame, gargoyles that have come to life, and a second theme derived from the theme that dominated the first movement. The following slow movement, marked Adagio, introduces a third thematic element between the two themes proposed in the Introduction. The last movement is in sonata-rondo form, now in B major. A theme in the form of a toccata frames a chorale-type melody and the movement develops in impressive style, its themes resounding above pedal-scales, before the storm abates in a final chord.

Keith Anderson



The Organ of Eglise Saint-Sebastien, Nancy
Traction entièrement mécanique. Sommiers intégralement à pistons

Machine Barker au G.O.

I. GRAND-ORGUE (56 n.)

Montre - 16'
Bourdon - 16'
Montre - 8'
Bourdon - 8'
Flûte double - 8'
Viole de Gambe - 8'
Prestant - 4'
Flûte octaviante - 4'
Quinte - 2 2/3'
Doublette - 2'
Plein-Jeu - 5 rgs
Grand Comet - 5 rgs
Basson - 16'
Trompette - 8'
Clairon - 4'


Quintaton - 16'
Diapason - 8'
Bourdon - 8'
Voix céleste - 8'
Flûte harmonique - 8'
Flûte octaviante - 4'
Octavin - 2'
Basson - 16'
Trompette harmonique - 8'
Basson-Hautbois - 8'
Voix humaine - 8'
Clairon - 4'


Principal - 8'
Flûte amabile - 8'
Cor des Alpes - 8'
Salicional - 8'
Eolienne - 8'
Flûte douce - 4'
Dulciana - 4'
Doublette - 2'
Trompette - 8'
Clarinette - 8'

PEDALE (30 n.)

Contrebasse - 16'
Soubasse - 16'
Quinte - 10 2/3'
Flûte - 8'
Violoncelle - 8'
Flûte - 4'
Bombarde - 16'
Trompette - 8'
Clairon - 4'

Pédales de combinaisons:
Machine Barker du G.O., Forté, Pédale de crescendo, Tremolo récit 2/1, 3/1, 3/2, Tirasses 1, 2 et 3, Appels d'anches 1, 2, 3 et pédale.



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