Magazine article The American Organist

LOUIS VIERNE: Symphonies No. 3 and No. 5

Magazine article The American Organist

LOUIS VIERNE: Symphonies No. 3 and No. 5

Article excerpt

RECORDINGS

LOUIS VIERNE: Symphonies No. 3 and No. 5. Samuel Kummer, organ. IV/97 Kern organ in the Frauenkirche, Dresden. Carus 83.405. What makes a perfect performance, if such a performance exists? I believe this question can be answered by listening to Samuel Rummer's new CD featuring two of the greatest symphonic masterpieces ever written for the organ. Louis Vierne's Symphonies in F-sharp Minor (1911) and A Minor (1924), the magnificent organ on which they are played, and Mr. Kummer's impeccable technique, powerful intuition, and complete command of the structure of the music make for a listening experience that would be difficult to surpass in any respect.

Vierne was one of the major innovators for the organ, particularly in the areas of texture, harmony, and tonality. His rhythm and form remained more traditional, unlike that of such contemporaries as Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartók, and Messiaen. Vierne explored a myriad of new textural possibilities throughout his organ works, much the same as Bach had done 200 years earlier. Also like Bach, Vierne created only music that is perfectly idiomatic for the instrument, but by no means without formidable technical difficulties. Mr. Kummer is a consummate virtuoso, able to portray flawlessly the complexities of the music, whether textural, harmonic, or tonal. He showcases Vierne's epic creations, bringing virtually nothing to the performance that is not already in the score. He conveys the overall picture and every detail with crystal clarity. His control of the swell pedal, the transparency of the counterpoint, and the rigorous observance of the silences are exemplary. His use of rubato is always appropriate to the moment, and his portrayal of the various themes - as characters within a drama that is symphonic in every sense of the word - is captivating. …

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