BENOÎT MERNIER (b.1964): Organ Concerto (Olivier Latry [organ], Belgian National Orchestra; Hugh Wolff), Dickinson Songs for Chorus and Orchestra (La Choraline, La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra; Alain Altinoglu).
Catalogue Number: 08U065
Description: These two substantial works were commissioned for the celebrations surrounding the inauguration of the restored organ heard here. The Dickinson songs are gorgeously Romantic; they were commissioned for the girls' choir who perform them on this disc, and the composer chose texts that reflect the wide-eyed apparent naïveté and playfulness of the poet's unexpected and imaginative imagery. This is perfectly matched in music that is tonal and as accessible and clear as the poetry, yet which accommodates a more late-romantic chromaticism to underscore the mysterious subtexts of poems like 'There is something quieter than sleep', which forms the centerpiece of the cycle. The Organ Concerto is an extrovert, celebratory piece by an organist-composer with complete mastery of the instrument writing for one of the major organ virtuosi of our time. The concerto avoids bombast, and the trap of alternating characteristic organ material with orchestral gestures, by presenting the two as complementary ensembles in continuous dialogue, brass stops imitating brass instruments and so on, with the organ a near-constant presence. The outer movements are lively and extrovert, with the spatial disposition of the ranks of pipes playfully used in antiphonal and hocketing exchanges with the orchestra; the language is very tonal, with allusions in the finale to toccata figuration in the French organ tradition and excursions into Messiaenic harmonic territory. The mysterious central movement has a modal flavour redolent of the near East and is a study in coloristic interchanges between soloist and ensemble.