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I hope I may be forgiven for posting this off topic query, but I am sure that you are the best people to ask.

 

I have always been convinced that Vierne was far more than just a mere organ composer and have always been slightly disappointed that he is not more widely recognised by the musical mainstream. It's true his output is uneven, but just listen to this lovely, impressionist song:

 

 

And am I wrong in thinking this superb cello sonata ought to be up there with the best of them?

 

 

Then there are the impressive second and third movements of his Poème for piano and orchestra (sadly, the first movement doesn't quite hit the same mark, though maybe the YouTube recording is to blame for that):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jcd33rgv64

 

Anyway... My question is: as a devotee of CDs (I don't do MP3 downloads), can anyone please recommend to me some good recordings entirely or mainly of secular music by Vierne? I am already aware of George Delvalleé's CD of the complete piano works.

 

As an aside, thanks to the way I was taught, I grew up believing that there were only two impressionist composers, Debussy and Ravel. This never really made sense, but the textbooks I have read do tend to reinforce this impression in that, although they speak generally of an impressionist movement, they don't actually mention any other composers. But surely there must have been others and surely Vierne was one? Duruflé might be another on grounds of harmonic idiom, although there is nothing in the titles of his compositions to suggest this.

 

Who else?

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Agree - and some of Widor's songs are quite attractive too.

 

I have a Canadian CD of Violin & Piano music Musica Viva MVCD1110 (1997) which contains Vierne's Violin Sonata in G Minor - a substantial work of just over 30 mins, Guy Ropartz's 3rd Sonata & the Messiaen Theme & Variations - all excellently played

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Duruflé is really interesting despite his very small output, I have recordings of the Prélude, récitatif et variations op. 3 for flute, viola, and piano (1928) which is a fine piece as are the Trois danses op. 6 (1932) for orchestra. The Andante et Scherzo op. 8 (1940) for orchestra uses material from the organ Scherzo op. 2 (1926) - I have only heard this in a rather bad recording. Maurice Duruflé, the Last Impressionist (Ronald Ebrecht, 2002) is quite an informative read if one wants a compendium of scholarly articles and Maurice Duruflé the Man and His Music (James E. Frazier, 2007) is a real insight into the man and his background.

 

A

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Recently heard at "France-Musique" a contribution to "the organists without their organ" (les organistes sans leur orgue):

Louis Vierne:

-Quatuor à cordes en ré mineur op. 12 - I. Lento - Allegro agitato
Quatuor Spiegel
MDG [644 1505-2]

-Sonate pour violon et piano op. 23 - 1er, 2e et 4e mouvement
Olivier Charlier (violon) & Jean Hubeau (piano)
Erato [2292 45524-2]

- Suite bourguignonne pour piano op. 17
Olivier Gardon (piano)
Timpani [2C2023]

-Mélodies
Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire

Spleens et détresses op. 38 - "Un grand sommeil noir"
Mireille Delunsch (soprano) & François Keerdoncuff (piano)

Timpani 1C1145

-La Ballade du désespéré op. 61
Steve Davislim (ténor)
The Queensland Orchestra, Guillaume Tourniaire (direction)
Melba Recordings [MR301123]

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I have this recording of Vierne's complete chamber music. His songs can be found on the Naxos label (Michael Bundy/Jeremy Filsell), as can their recordings of songs by Widor and Tournemire; I have the latter. Many of these twentieth-century French so-called organist-composers wrote much music for forces other than the organ, and it is a shame that it is rarely heard. When was the last time we heard Widor's symphonic or stage works?

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Thank you all for your help and recommendations. I shall be ordering two or three of these forthwith.

 

Duruflé's Trois Danses are indeed very fine, but the only recording I have ever been able to trace is one conducted by Duruflé himself, which, to be honest, isn't terribly good. The BBC once broadcast a better performance that they had recorded especially when Duruflé was composer of the week. SIr Andrew Davis included a truly sumptuous performance of the Danse Lente on his LP of the full orchestral version of the Requiem; the Requiem made it onto CD, but I don't think the dance ever did. That performance has often made me wish that he had recorded all three.

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There is another recording of the 3 Danses: Bamberger Symphoniker, direction Jean-Jacques Kantorow (Erato CD 3984-23421-2) 1997 - also one of the two piano version: Arianna Goldina et Rémy Loumbrozo, Pianos (Phoenix PHCD 135) 1992

 

One more to add: The SA Chamber Music Society recorded the Durufle Prelude, Recitatif & Variations Op 3 (Flute, Viola, Piano) on Koch Discover DICD 920462. Also includes Kodaly, Khatchaturian & Bolcom.

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