Prom 21: Olivier Latry

Prom 21: The Art of Transcription
Olivier Latry, organ
Royal Albert Hall, 4 August 2019

In what must be the most inept bit of programming in musical history, the BBC Proms has seen fit, for yet another year, to programme the only organ recital of the Proms at 11am on a Sunday, when most organists will be earning a pittance playing for church services. I cannot think of another instrument where the choice of a specific day and time could exclude a key part of the potential audience. That said, there was a pretty impressive audience for this concert, far more than at the previous Sunday’s evening Prom of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles. And what a treat they had. Olivier Latry is one of the organists at Notre Dame who when not on his week’s turn of duty there has built an enviable reputation at a touring recitalist and teacher. His programme focused on the art of transcription, an aspect of organ performance that dates back to early Renaissance times but reached its peak in England in the 19th century when W T Best became Liverpool Corporation Organists (in 1855) and, over a period spanning around 40 years, gave three organ recitals a week in St George’s Hall. He was the first organist to give a recital in the Royal Albert Hall, in 1871.

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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