Le Grand Jeu

French Baroque organ favourites
Collection L’Age d’or de l’orgue française No. 4
Gaétan Jarry
Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS024
Music by d’Angelbert, Charpentier, Corrette, Couperin, Dandrieu, de Grigny, Handel, Lully, Marchand, Purcell & Rameau

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CD cover of Gaétan Jarry

Not for the first time, the in-house Versailles CD production team have come up with a disc that isn’t really quite what it says it is, but that might well catch the eye of those browsing in the palace shop, not least because of the picture on the front of the packaging.

Given the working title of ‘French Baroque Organ Favourites,’ I doubt that any EMR-reading organists would have come up with a programme which included Dido’s Lament and/or Handel’s Sheba and in which Corrette out-gunned Couperin by eight and a half minutes to one and a half. And not a Noël in sight. Yes, there is some organ music – the tiny Couperin, more substantial Dandrieu and Grigny – but most of the programme is arrangements principally of Rameau and Lully.

It’s all very well played of course, though some of what we hear wouldn’t be possible without modern recording trickery, and we do get a good trip around the organ’s sound-world (it is a marvellous instrument) but for me that isn’t really the point. You realise how distinctive and rich the true repertoire is when track 4 begins and Dandrieu’s splendid Easter Offertoire succeeds a pair of contredanses by Rameau. The word ‘idiomatic’ sprang to mind, and the organ sounded so much happier.

The booklet essays (French, English & German) are long on gush and short on real information about the music, though there is a useful biography of the organ and some more good pictures. Overall, however, this is not really EMR/HIP material.

David Hansell

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