Monday, June 14, 2010
E.Power Biggs plays Poulenc Organ Concerto
This is a very nice recording, despite the drubbing Biggs took from the Gramophone reviewer of the time, who apparently had a horror of interestingly registered color and anything that, as he writes, might "ipater (sic) les bourgeois." I assume he means "épater" (amaze or impress) , but he in any event ends up revealing a good deal about his own shabby snobbery.
I guess I am one of that horrid bourgeois (without, however, enjoying the pedestrian, creature comforts that implies), because Biggs has always been my favorite organist. I do not find most organ playing very interesting; Biggs makes it very interesting, undoubtedly by appealing to my philistine musical sensibilities. So be it. I will add to my musical boorishness by recommending highly this wonderful piece by Poulenc, and the glorious recording of it made by Biggs and Burgin on the Aeolian Skinner organ in Boston's Symphony Hall.
The Franck recordings presented here are among the most satisfying performances I have heard of the works, and the sound is very good for the era, which was capable of producing quite wonderful recordings.
The Poulenc was recorded in 1948 and issued on a Columbia 78 set; Biggs and Burgin performed the symphony at that time in Symphony Hall, Boston, which makes me suspect that the Columbia Symphony, in this instance, is in fact the BSO, which was under contract with RCA. The Franck was first issued in 1950 on this LP, Columbia ML 4329