© 2014 London Philharmonic Orchestra Ltd
℗ 2014 London Philharmonic Orchestra Ltd
Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London, on 26 March 2014.
Producer: Andrew Walton, K&A Productions
Engineer: Deborah Spanton, K&A Productions
Publisher (tracks 1–7): Editions Salabert S. A.
Total playing time 58:05
DDD Stereo
Released November 2014

CD: Poulenc & Saint-Saëns organ works

LPO conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Poulenc Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani
Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ)

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conductor
James O'Donnell organ
London Philharmonic Orchestra

Poulenc’s Organ Concerto is an extraordinary mixture of high drama and tongue-in-cheek music that could accompany a chase sequence, interspersed with beautiful reflective episodes. Scored for just strings and timpani accompaniment, it nevertheless packs a dramatic and emotional punch. By contrast, Saint-Saëns’s 'Organ' Symphony uses the instrument as just a part of a full orchestral palette in a work of mouthwatering clarity and narrative depth. Marcel Proust proclaimed it 'the most beautiful of symphonies since Beethoven’s'.

Both works were recorded during the Pull Out All The Stops festival launching the refurbished Royal Festival Hall organ, complete for the first time since 2005.

CD booklet includes full organ specification and an article on the history and refurbishment of the organ by its curator, Dr William McVicker.

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‘The Poulenc, in particular, gets a blistering performance.The Saint-Saëns plays a long game and rises to a suitably magniloquent ending. James O’Donnell, organist of Westminster Abbey, is master of the king of instruments’. (4 stars)
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 14 November 2014

‘The Poulenc concerto is delivered here with a bright spikiness that took my breath away … Goodness, this is an edgy, exciting performance; the Allegro giocoso is characterised by gut-gouging string playing and the Andante moderato finds O’Donnell at his most persuasive and pellucid. The depth and range of colour picked up by this fine recording is simply marvellous.’
Dan Morgan, Music Web International, 16 November 2014

‘James O'Donnell's playing is faultless, capturing the [Poulenc’s] craziness, the lurching between raucous vaudeville and Gothic horror. This live recording is beautifully balanced, too; Yannick Nézet-Séguin's London Philharmonic strings clean, clear and incisive with nicely present, well-tuned timpani. It's a belter of a piece, and one which deserves space on the CD shelves of the most ardent organophobe. And this among the best modern recordings.’
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 22 November 2014

‘Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s rapport with this orchestra is evident from his charged approach to the first movement of Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphony – not precluding a wistful charm in its second theme or stealthy understatement in the transition to the Adagio.’
Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review, December 2014

‘From the first notes of the Poulenc Organ Concerto you know this is going to be good. And by the time you reach the finale of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, well ...'
'As a celebration of the rechristening of the Royal Festival Hall's restored organ it could hardly be bettered.’
Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3's 'CD Review', 29 November 2014

‘A good rhythmic pulse in the Poulenc together with organ-playing of sensitivity and spark from O’Donnell, and with plenty of nervous energy, impetus and instrumental detail in the outer parts of the Saint-Saëns’
Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone, December 2014

'For the Poulenc, James O’Donnell finds plenty of warmth and colour in the instrument which, combined with some rich string playing, benefits from the improved acoustics of the hall. The LPO excels in the Saint-Saëns: plenty of verve and passion in equal measure and the performance is rightly rewarded by a rapturous response from the audience at the end.' (4 stars)
Choir & Organ, January/February 2015

‘The third movement [of the Saint-Saens] has real bite, and O'Donnell ensures the organ crowns the final movement in a suitably joyous blaze of glory.’
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, January 2015

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