Les ombres heureuses: Les organistes français de la fin de l’Ancien Régime

Olivier Baumont organ & piano organisé
Radio France TEM316053
Music by Balbastre, Beauvarlet-Charpentier, Benaut, Corrette, A-L Couperin & Lasceux

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he CD was so tightly jammed into the central jaws that it snapped in half as I tried to get it out of the box. However I found snippets of all the pieces on the internet. The period leading up to the French Revolution formed the technical peak of the French Classical organ although the music written for it didn’t reach similar heights. In France, the musical highlight came around 1700 with De Grigny, after which pieces became increasingly secular and fanciful in character – and more fun. Pushing the earlier Baroque forms and colours to extremes, the likes of Balbastre ended up providing entertainment for the revolutionary populace in the newly desig-nated Temples of Reason, saving many important organs from destruction in the process. This CD covers most of the composers of the mid to late 18th century, along with the varied musical styles, most loosely based on the earlier Baroque concepts of registration and form. The 1748 Dom Bedos organ in Sainte-Croix, Bordeaux, is one of the finest surviving organs of this period, with a rich palette of tonal colours. The 1791 Erard-frères piano organisé used for several central tracks produces a fascinating and unusual sound and brings the sound world into the domestic scene. Olivier Baumont takes this repertoire seriously, as he should, and is a compelling advocate for an often-criticised period of French music.

Andrew Benson-Wilson

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