Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Treat From YouTube

Olivier Latry is the titular organist of Notre Dame in Paris, arguably the single most prestigious organ post in the world. In addition to these duties, he also is professor of organ at the Conservatoire du Paris and is in great demand as a concert artist. Still a young man--he was appointed to the Conservatoire post at age 21 and his Notre Dame post at 23--he is living proof that the incredible legacy of Franck and Widor and Vierne and Dupré and Duruflé and Cochereau is alive and well. (In this he is joined by Philippe Lefebvre and Daniel Roth and Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin and Vincent Warnier and Thierry Escaich and Jean Guillou and Yves Castagnet and Francois-Henri Houbart and others.)

This video treats us, courtesy of JAV Records, to Mr. Latry improvising at the console in October, 2007. Improvisation is a big part of the tradition of being an organist in France, and in this video we hear the fabulous harmonic language which is such a big part of the legacy of this school (and the related aesthetics of Debussy and Ravel).

I also love how utterly adept he is at manipulating what is a very large and complicated instrument. (I wonder what it must be like to be this good at anything in life.)

(An aside: this is not Cavaillé-Coll's original console, and my understanding is that the new console is computer-controlled and allows any stop on the organ to be played from any keyboard. So though Latry doesn't use but two or three keyboards here, he is likely making use of more of the organ's resources than it appears.)

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