The French word ‘noël’ is closely associated with the organ, and this new recording from the Breton organist Christian Lambour introduces the listener to works from the 17th to the 20th century. Noëls provided organists with the opportunity to introduce variations on popular tunes, often making use of Christmas carols and shepherd songs. The evocative sound of these traditional melodies – sung around the fire during advent – are assured to get you in l’esprit de Noël!
The album takes in some of the country’s most assured writers for the instrument, from the well-known figures of César Franck and Théodore Dubois to lesser-known names like Michel Corrette and Alexis Chauvet – notorious among his contemporaries as ‘le petit Bach’ because of his contrapuntal style – whom the listener may be not so familiar with. Many of the contributors held distinguished organist positions in Parisian churches, such as Claude Balbastre at Notre-Dame de Paris and two members of the Dandrieu family – both at one time organist at Saint-Barthélemy en Cité, Paris. The melody incorporated into Puer nobis nascitur by Pierre Dandrieu will be recognised by many as a popular Christmas carol still commonly sung today. The music of Père Franck, as his students affectionately knew him, and Alexandre Guilmant provide a contrast with their noëls which were revived in line with the emerging symphonic tradition of the 19th century. Christian Lambour’s masterful recital is rounded off with movements from Boëly’s Messe du jour de Noël, published in 1842 for performance on Christmas Day.
The historic organ used on this recording in the former Benedictine Abbey of Neu St Johann in Switzerland, built in 1779, is instrumental in bringing the music alive.
An attractive and beautifully compiled programme of French organ music for Christmas.
The Noël is the French pendant of the Christmas Carol, a popular tune of often pastoral character. Organist Christian Lambour selected a range of French organ works based on the Noël, spanning 3 centuries from the 17-th century to the 20-th, by composers Dandrieu, Corrette, Balbastre, Guilmant, Franck, Dubois, Boëly.
Beautifully played on the superb historic organ (1779) of the Benedictine Abbey of Neu St. Johann in Switzerland.
Booklet includes liner notes, artist biography
Recorded in 2014 on an historic instrument