Symphonic Roar: An Odyssey of Sound from the Paris Conservatoire

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Acis

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 75

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: APL97957

APL97957. Symphonic Roar

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(12) pièces nouvelles, Movement: Elfes Joseph Bonnet, Composer
Yuri McCoy, Organ
La croix du sud Jean-Louis Florentz, Composer
Yuri McCoy, Organ
Sonata No. 2, Movement: Allegro vivace (Felix) Alexandre Guilmant, Composer
Yuri McCoy, Organ
Fantaisie Camille Saint-Saëns, Composer
Yuri McCoy, Organ
Amériques Edgard Varèse, Composer
Brady Spitz, Percussion
Yuri McCoy, Organ
Pièces de fantaisie, Suite No. 2, Movement: No. 5, Clair de lune Louis Vierne, Composer
Collin Boothby, Percussion
Yuri McCoy, Organ

The impetus for this debut album by Yuri McCoy was to celebrate the French Romantic organ and the gloriously rich, ‘symphonic’ sonority associated with it. But the American organist has set about doing so with a bracingly original programme of pieces, the longest of which – his own transcription of Varèse’s Amériques – was never even written for organ and is often regarded as a modernist talisman. Moreover, he traces his ‘Odyssey of Sound from the Paris Conservatoire’ with the aid of two instruments located in Houston: an 84-rank Fisk-Rosales belonging to the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and an 85-rank Nichols & Simpson organ at Houston’s South Main Baptist Church, where McCoy serves as organist.

Indeed, the venerable Parisian institution merely provides a loose orientation for the six works gathered here – which span a little more than a century (1895-2000) – insofar as each of their composers studied at the Conservatoire. The diversity of moods McCoy evokes from these juxtapositions makes the album as a whole resemble a vast and labyrinthine fantasy, a framework within which he can show off the tonal colours and alluring registrations of his respective chosen instruments. The serene calming following the climax of Saint-Saëns’s D flat Fantaisie, for example, inspires him to deploy the Rossignol stop of the Fisk-Rosales (involving a water-submerged pipe intended to mimic a nightingale). Such details become more than isolated ‘special effects’ thanks to McCoy’s sure grasp of musical architecture and appealingly theatrical sense of pacing.

A magnificent discovery launches this odyssey: the symphonic poem for organ La croix du sud (1999-2000) by former Messiaen pupil and ethnomusicologist Jean-Louis Florentz. McCoy shows the rare virtuosity needed to make musical sense of Florentz’s wildly layered organ textures, which weave in non-Western inspirations. Another highlight is McCoy’s tenderly ruminative account of Vierne’s Claire de lune. But the pièce de résistance – like the Vierne, performed on the Nichols & Simpson organ – is the new transcription of Amériques, which occupied McCoy for seven years; it incorporates the contributions of his musical partner Brady Spitz, who performs the percussion parts (including the signature siren sounds). The result is not so much a transcription as an audacious expansion of the modern organ’s claim to symphonic scope.

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