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Charles-Marie Widor: Master of the Organ Symphony


Widor Charles-Marie Widor (1844Ė1937), the most famous composer of organ music since Bach, wrote ten revolutionary organ symphonies that established the organ as a rival to the orchestra, pioneered the use of symphonic forms for the instrument, and sublimed influences as diverse as Bach's fugues, Wagner's music dramas and medieval plainchant into an original musical language. On top of this, his Toccata is probably the best-loved piece of organ music ever written after Bach.

2 DVDs (Duration: 300 minutes), German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch subtitles;
2 CDs (Duration: 130 minutes);
1 booklet (84 p.)

DVD 1: Widor: Master of the Organ Symphony
The centrepiece is a magnificent three-part documentary showing how Widor came to write his organ symphonies, how his compositional style developed and matured, and how these works fit into his overall career as a performer, teacher and writer. Presented by Gerard Brooks and featuring interviews with Widor scholars Daniel Roth, John Near and Anne-Isabelle de Parcevaux, this film also sets Widorís organ music in the context of his work as a mainstream composer of operas, ballets, chamber music and orchestral symphonies.
Widorís life was intertwined with that of the great French organ builder Aristide Cavaillë-Coll. Therefore Widorís greatest organ works are recorded in mesmerising surround-sound on the three best surviving Cavaillë-Coll instruments, Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where Widor himself was organist for almost sixty years, Orlëans Cathedral and Saint-Ouen in Rouen. Widorís fifth and sixth symphonies are included in their entirety on both CD and DVD, performed by Gerard Brooks. Daniel Roth, the current organist at Saint-Sulpice, performs a range of movements from the other symphonies.

Part 1:
• Introduction
• Widor's unlikely Predecessor
• Widor's Youth and Education
• An itinerant Organist
• Provisional Organist of Saint-Sulpice

Part 2:
• Symphonies 5 and 6
• Beyond the Toccata
• Symphonies 7 and 8
• Professor of Organ

Part 3:
• The Influence of Plainchant
• Professor of Composition
• A new Career
• Marriage
• A Beautiful Life

DVD 2: Widor's Organ Symphonies
Complete recordings of the 5th and 6th Symphonies on DVD and CD by Gerard Brooks. Daniel Roth, current organist at Saint-Sulpice, performs movements from the other symphonies.

• Symphonie No. 5 Opus 42/1
Gerald Brooks, Abbatiale Saint-Ouen, Rouen
• Symphonie No. 6 Opus 42/2
Gerald Brooks, Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans
• Movements from the Symphonies No. 3 Opus 13/3, No. 2 Opus 13/2, No. 1 Opus 13/1, No. 7 Opus 42/3, No. 4 Opus 13/4
Daniel Roth, Saint-Sulpice, Paris
and from the Symphonie Gothique Opus 70
Gerald Brooks, Abbatiale Saint-Ouen, Rouen

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CD 1:
• Symphonie No. 6 Opus 42/2
Gerald Brooks, Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans
• Symphonie No. 1 Opus 13/1 (Méditation)
• Symphonie No. 3 Opus 13/3 (Prélude)
• Symphonie No. 2 Opus 13/2 (Andante)
• Symphonie No. 3 Opus 13/3 (Final)
Daniel Roth, Saint-Sulpice, Paris

CD 2:
• Symphonie No. 5 Opus 42/1
• Symphonie Gothique Opus 70 (Andante sostenuto)
Gerald Brooks, Abbatiale Saint-Ouen, Rouen
• Symphonie No. 7 Opus 42/3 (Choral, Finale)
Daniel Roth, Saint-Sulpice, Paris

The booklet contains an introduction to Widor's life and work, to the development of his style and especially his organ symphonies No. 5 and 6 by Dr. John R. Near and Gerard Brooks (in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch) and in addition the dispositions of the five registered organs: Saint-Sulpice in Paris, Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orlëans, Saint-Ouen in Rouen, Saint-Remy in Selongey and St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough.

„This is a lavish package indeed, and worthy of its subject ... committed Widorians will need no urging to acquire this intelligently compiled, generously assembled paean to a composer who claimed to be 'born in an organ pipe'.“ [Choir and Organ, March 2016]

„A very generous production ... it's the performances on the second DVD by Brooks and Roth that make this package so attractive, however Ė to witness the organs of St-Ouen, Rouen, Ste-Croix, Orlëans and St-Sulpice, Paris put through their paces with such fine filming and in majestic 5.1 surround sound, is a treat.“ [BBC Music Magazine, April 2016]

„This first-rate production will probably never be bettered.“ [Gramophone Ė DVD of the month, February 2016]


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