Nicolas de Grigny: Premier Livre d’orgue

Nicolas de Grigny (1672-1703) 
Premier Livre d’orgue (1699)
Ed. Jon Baxendale
234 pages • ISMN 979-0-706670-02-7 (Hardback) • 979-0-706670-28-7 (Wire)
Lyrebird Music. LBMP–008

The 1690s saw the publication of two of the most important contributions to the literature of French organ music. François Couperin’s 1690 Pièces d’Orgue (new Lyrebird edition reviewed here) is the best known of the two, with its approachable musical style that owes much to the wider musical language of Paris at the time, notably operatic arias and dances. Nicolas de Grigny’s Premier Livre d’orgue (now available in this impressive new Lyrebird edition) was published in 1699, three years before his untimely death. In contrast to Couperin’s youthful offering, de Grigny’s music delves spiritual, emotional and musical depths that most other French organ composers of the period lacked. He is well-deserving of editor Jon Baxendale’s comment that he was the “most erudite of Grand siècle organ composers”.

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Hymnes – tribute to Nicolas de Grigny

Hymnes  – tribute to Nicolas de Grigny
Olivier Latry, Jean-Baptiste Robin, Benoît Mernier, Pierre Farago, Vincent Dubois (Organ)
Basilique Saint-Remi, Reims.
Aeolus AW-11101. 60’19+57’25

AE-11101 "Hymnes"This fascinating double CD stems from the 800th anniversary (in 2011) of the laying of the first stone of the Cathedral of Reims, where Nicolas de Grigny, the finest organist composer of the French Baroque era, served as organist from 1696 until his premature death in 1703. The current organ in the cathedral is not suitable for the performance of their most famous composer’s music, but the nearby Basilique St-Remi has a Bertrand Cattiaux organ, built in 2000, with the registrations required for the French Baroque repertoire. In an enterprising initiative, the “Association Renaissance des grandes orgues de la Basilique St-Remi” started a musical project in homage to de Grigny by inviting five contemporary composers to write a new work for organ based on one of de Grigny’s five hymn settings. Continue reading