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Mathieu: Langlais – Suite Médiévale; Cinq Méditations sur l’Apocalypse (FLAC)

Mathieu: Langlais - Suite Médiévale; Cinq Méditations sur l'Apocalypse (FLAC)

Mathieu: Langlais - Suite Médiévale; Cinq Méditations sur l'Apocalypse (FLAC)

Performer: Bruno Mathieu
Composer: Jean Langlais
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Naxos
Size: 259 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

# Suite Médiévale for organ Prelude
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Suite Médiévale for organ Tiento
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Suite Médiévale for organ Improvisation
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Suite Médiévale for organ Méditation
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Suite Médiévale for organ Acclamations
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Meditations (5) on the Apocalypse, for organ 1. Celui qui a des oreilles, qu’il écoute
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Meditations (5) on the Apocalypse, for organ 2. It était, Il est et Il vient
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Meditations (5) on the Apocalypse, for organ 3. Visions prophétiques
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Meditations (5) on the Apocalypse, for organ 4. Oh oui, viens, Seigneur Jésus
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

# Meditations (5) on the Apocalypse, for organ 5. La Cinquième Trompette
Composed by Jean Langlais
with Bruno Mathieu

In a not-so-quiet cathedral

The successors to Franck, Vierne, Widor and Guilmant took French organ music in a new and fruitful direction. Combining an uncompromising modernism with an improvisational style, often based on ancient plainsong and Gregorian chant, they achieved a powerful expressive language. At once dynamic – even at times of almost explosive force and power – and yet in another mood quiet and meditative, this profoundly spiritual body of work is usually anchored in liturgical forms. Charles Tournemire’s monumental ‘l’Orgue Mystique’ in 51 volumes, for example, comprises a series of suites to accompany the Mass for the entire Church year. Tournemire’s pupil, Jean Langlais (1907-91), a blind organist and composer, is situated within this same tradition and makes a very important contribution to it that is well sampled on this excellent Naxos album. Bruno Mathieu, who himself studied with Langlais, plays on the classic Cavaille-Coll organ in the cathedral of Saint-Brieuc. There are two five-movement works on the CD: the ‘Suite Medievale’ (subtitled ‘In the Form of a Low Mass’) and the somewhat less accessible but highly colorful ‘Cinq Meditations sur l’Apocalypse’ which, as the informative CD leaflet documents, caused surprise and puzzlement at its premiere in 1974. The ‘Suite Medievale’ opens with a towering prelude, based on a recurring four-note theme, which uses the Saint-Brieuc organ’s full resources to awesome effect. Three quieter, more reflective movements follow in which the instrument’s glorious individual voices (Voix humaine, Gambe and Celeste, Flute harmonique, etc) are showcased in a superb realization of Langlais’ score. The Suite concludes with the full-throated ‘Acclamations’. The second work, ‘Cinq Meditations’, which concludes the CD, takes the titles of its five movements from the last book of the Bible, The Relevation to John. Langlais had read the book of Revelation repeatedly following a near-fatal heart attack, and was greatly affected by it. Gregorian modes make a strong appearance, alongside musical depictions of the horrors ensuing from the opening of the seven seals in the apocalyptic narrative. The work concludes with the lengthy and complex ‘La cinquieme trompette’ (Fifth Trumpet). As the insightful liner point by Langlais’ widow, Marie-Louise Langlais (herself an accomplished organist), points out, this final section depicts the ‘infernal’ song and frantic movement of the stinging locusts released by the opening of the bottomless pit in ‘Revelation’. The work ends with a series of discords which, according to Mme. Langlais, ‘symbolize man’s terror’ in the face of this impending torment. Not a Hollywood ending perhaps, but a powerful introduction to the work of a profound near-contemporary master of the French organ repertory. Highly recommended.

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