Louis Vierne - The complete recordings
Louis Vierne (1870-1937), the famous organist of Notre Dame de Paris, hardly needs any introduction. As a student of César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor he quickly rose to fame and became assistant to Widor at Saint Sulpice in 1892. From 1900 until his death in 1937 he was titulaire at Notre Dame de Paris. Louis Vierne’s importance as an organist and composer cannot be underlined enough. His musical legacy is immense – just think of how many of his works are in the core of the standard repertoire of every organist.
So it’s with great pleasure, that I’m now able to present one of the most legendary cycle of organ recordings. These recordings were made in November 1928 and allow us to listen to the almost intact Cavaillé-Coll organ from 1868. As far as I can read, the only modifications made until 1928 was done by Louis Vierne in 1902.
The recorded repertoire is typical for the period. There is a collection of smaller pieces by J. S. Bach, a single piece by Vierne himself and three improvisations, which Duruflé transcribed along the Tournemire improvisations in 1956. Based on other recording organists of the period, I think that Louis Vierne and his recording company, French Odéon, were thinking of making commercially interesting recordings instead of preserving the legacy of Louis Vierne as it is the case with the recordings of Charles-Marie Widor.
Louis Vierne was 58 years old at that time and they were perhaps thinking that there was still time for another recording session? We can of course only speculate, but it is noteworthy that he did not record any of this larger works such as movements from his symphonies.
The excellent transfers here were provided most generously by Michael Gartz and carefully restored and spliced together by Claus Byrith, and they are in my opinion the best transfers available. Michael Gartz’s original 78rpm’s are of mint condition and as written in the track list three (extremely rare) American pressing were used for six of the sides. Taking in account that these are some of the first organ recordings made in Europe, the sound in this transfer is remarkable clear and detailed.
So I would like to send a big thank to Michael Gartz and Claus Byrith for making these important recordings available in a second to none quality.