FRANCK: Offertoire syphonique. DALLIER: 5 Invocations. SAINT-SAËNS: Improvisation No. 7 in a, op. 150. Fantasie in E-flat. DELVINCOURT: Sortie de Fête.
Marie Ducrot (organ).
Carthagène 730548 TT: 58:55

Better. I admit that, excepting César Franck, I'm not very fond of French organ music before the 20th century. Couperin leaves me cold. The great composer-organists like Vierne and Widor do little for me. It's not a dislike I can explain, let alone justify. I've never liked strawberry ice cream, either, and most fresh fruit makes me nauseous.

Leaving out the Franck and the Saint-Saëns, I don't connect with the program. The early Franck Offertoire, hands down the best work here, seems to prefigure the Pièce héroïque. The Saint-Saëns Improvisation, of smaller scope, nevertheless moves incisively as a lively gigue, while the early Fantasie is a lovely pastorale. The remaining works, in other hands, would I'm sure have just gone by. The Dallier -- five Marian invocations -- interests me more than the Delvincourt, or at least four of them do. The first four work with (unusually) pentatonic themes, while the last too easily imitates the famous Widor Toccata. The Delvincourt comes across as just another French organ piece, held together mostly with spit and duct tape.

However, even here, the playing gets its hooks into me. Belgian Marie Ducrot, in the tradition of blind organists, should be better known. I know so little about the workings of the organ, I can't tell you the kind of details organ fanatics like to immerse themselves in and registration lists make very little sense to me. Furthermore, one organ tends to sound much like another to me. Nevertheless, I do distinguish among organists. I like those with a strong sense of line and the ability to bring out the most important voice at a particular moment. Ducrot doesn't let the music go by in a big wad. She has an acute sense of the entire design of a piece and through dynamics and color changes clarifies architecture "on the fly." One also doesn't hear annoying pauses while she changes the stop-combinations. Her sense of line and her rhythm are strong.

S.G.S. (October 2013)