Franck: Complete Masterworks for Organby Michael Murray
As a beneficiary of the French organ tradition -- passed on from one teacher to the next, each a luminary -- Michael Murray is keen to make his recordings as educational as they are enjoyable. In his informative liner notes, Murray describes in detail the important contribution César Franck made to French music; and his survey of the organ masterpieces shows how Franck expanded the instrument's expressive range and introduced to its literature a symphonic approach that has influenced composers from d'Indy to Messiaen. The somber "Fantasy in A" and the rather slight "Cantabile" may not impress, but the highly dramatic "Pièce Héroïque" gives an indication of Franck's progress toward more expansive structures. The "Pièces (6)," Opp. 16-21, exploit the organ's registration and dynamic possibilities as never before. Of this series, the most magnificent work is the "Grande pièce symphonique," a precursor to the later organ symphonies of Widor and Vierne. Yet of all the set's selections, the "Chorales (3)" stand as Franck's most profound testament, a work that approaches the greatness of Bach in both contrapuntal mastery and formal design. Murray performs on the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint Sernin in Toulouse, an instrument that is similar in character to Franck's organ at Saint Clotilde.
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- Pieces (3), for organ, M. 35-37 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Fantasy, for organ in C major, Op. 16, M. 28 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Prélude, fugue, et variations, for organ in B minor, Op. 18, M. 30 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Prière, for organ in C sharp minor, Op. 20, M. 32 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Final, for organ in B flat major, Op. 21, M. 33 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Pastorale, for organ in E major, Op. 19, M. 31 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Grande pièce symphonique, for organ in F sharp minor, Op. 17, M. 29 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
- Chorals (3), for organ, M. 38-40 - César Franck - Ray Kirschensteiner - Michael Murray
Performance CreditsMichael Murray Primary Artist
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I spend most of my time listening to solo piano music and came to this set by way of Alice Ader's disc of Franck piano music on Fuga Libera. Murray's performances are very good but are biased strongly toward the Apollonian ideal, and for this reason I am giving the set four stars instead of five. Telarc's sound quality is excellent and the booklet notes are likewise excellent.