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Customer Review

on April 22, 2001
Alain should have been one of the greatest composers of the century, based on his early output. His style had incredible virtuosity to it, combining secular and religiously based concepts. Had he survived the 2nd World War (He was killed in 1940 by a Nazi bomb raid- a mere 29 years old) he would likely have surpassed his contemporary Olivier Messiaen and been the greatest composer of Organ music of this century.
Such bragging on my part has as its backing, the output of Alain's work that we do have to enjoy today. This volume (the 2nd of 2) released by Naxos features the excellent work of organist Eric Lebrun and the Cavaille-Coll organ of the Church of Saint-Antoine des Quinze-Vingts in Paris. As I explained in my review of Vol.1, this type of organ is exactly the type Alain wanted his pieces played on, and Lebrun, (who studied under Alain's sister, the famed Maire-Claire Alain) showcases his complete understanding of Alain's sonic world and does it absolute justice.
As with Vol.1, Alain's works are hauntingly beautiful, with his "3 Danses" being my personal favorite piece of his. The use of unresolved chords for effect is somewhat reminiscent of the opening movement of Beethoven's "5th" symphony, while its virtousity reminds me somewhat of Bach's "Passagalia and Fugue in C minor." Intentional or not, the effect is amazing. Also of note are the "Variations sur L'Hymme 'Lucis Creator.' Lebrun is at his best on these pieces, bringing a whole new life and vitality to them. Stunning.
Because it is a Naxos release, money is no excuse to not purchase this, and its companion 2 cd, disc. Other than Maire-Claire Alain, one will not likely find more competent readings of Alain's works than Lebrun's. Fans of organ music will love it, and I think you will, as well.
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