Marie-Claire Alain’s Legendary Liszt

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 8

Although these four major organ works of Franz Liszt hardly lack for modern world-class recordings (Thomas Trotter’s reference Decca version, for example), the return of the late Marie-Claire Alain’s 1986 Erato Liszt recital to the catalog is something to celebrate. She revels in the colorful registrations and wide dynamic spectrum characterizing the Orléans cathedral’s mighty Cavaillé-Coll organ, savoring the reed stops’ counterpoint in “Ad nos” Fantasy’s quiet central section while serving up the whirling fugue with incisive rhythmic verve and exuberance.

The BACH Prelude and Fugue’s rapid arpeggios and thick chromatic passagework abound with virtuosic panache, yet are consistently clear. Similar observations hold true for “Weinen, Klagen,” which unfolds with well-judged tempos, transitions, and climaxes. In the Évocation, Alain’s colorful registrations and masterful legato technique command attention to the point where the music sounds less rambling than others make it. There are no annotations, unfortunately, yet Alain’s priceless artistry speaks eloquently for itself.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Thomas Trotter (Decca)

    Prélude and Fugue on the name BACH ; Fantasy and Fugue in the Chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam”; Variations on a Theme of Bach, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen; Évocation à la Chapelle Sixtine

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