If the essence of Alain's obsessive music is rhythmic vitality, novel chord progressions, magical sounds and religious incantation, Whitehead distils it even further by highlighting the seam... — BBC Music Magazine, June 2005,
5 out of 5 stars More…
Alain: Trois Danses, AWV119
Alain: Deux Danses à Agni Yavishta
Alain: Variations sur l'hymne "Lucis Creator"
Alain: Le Jardin suspendu
Duruflé: Prelude & Fugue sur le nom d'Alain, Op. 7
If the essence of Alain's obsessive music is rhythmic vitality, novel chord progressions, magical sounds and religious incantation, Whitehead distils it even further by highlighting the seam of dance which runs through the output… A pleasing novelty… Whitehead's own arrangement of the second of Duruflé's orchestral Three Dances Op. ...Whitefield's compelling playing represents advocacy of a high order.
With its futuristic console and its aurally shattering battery of chamade reeds, this astonishing 1986-built Oberthür organ is the perfect vehicle for this programme.
One is acutely aware of the terrible loss to French music when Jehan Alain was killed by a German sniper at the Battle of Saumur in 1940.
His best known organ pieces are all here, including Litanies, Le jardin suspendu and the masterful Trois danses, completed just before his death.
With his fondness for ostinati, Easterninfluenced modes and irregular rhythms, Alain is almost a proto-minimalist. The little-known Aria is a gem worthy of greater exposure. Although the recordings of the composer's sister, Marie-Claire Alain, have long remained the benchmark, Whitehead's more spacious approach reveals greater clarity. His sense of rhythmic bounce, coupled with a fastidious choice of colour, creates a strongly atmospheric performance. The recording, too, is outstanding.
Duruflé's music, while less experimental, is just as compelling. Whitehead's transcription of the Danse lente works well and should become a repertoire regular. The final track, the memorial Prélude et fugue sur le nom d'Alain bobs and weaves with a dramatic fervour. A winning disc.