John E. Roos
Here is a master organist, tackling two of the masterpieces of the organ literature. Highly recommended

Listening to the organ works of Louis Vierne reminds me of the challenge of trying to capture dynamite in a bottle. Vierne has written music that can be explosive, almost larger than life. It takes every pipe of the mighty organ of Saint-Sulpice in Paris to capture the sound that emerged from Vierne's imagination. Even in a recording as fine as this, we can only approximate the impact of these thunderous sounds echoing through the cathedral's expanse, rattling the windows, shaking the walls.

Daniel Roth provides a welcome addition to the catalog. Here is a master organist, tackling two of the masterpieces of the organ literature. One sits back, reveling in the tonal splendor. In the first symphony, Roth allows Vierne's menacing opening movement to build to a massive climax (although both Marie-Clare Alain and Daniel Chorzempa are slightly more menacing in this music). Roth's second-movement Fugue builds to a magnificent conclusion. The third-movement Pastorale is appropriately peaceful while his Allegro vivace is fleet and electric and the fifth-movement Andante is nicely meditative. In the Final, Roth literally lets out all the stops. We close our eyes and almost imagine sitting in Saint-Sulpice, the sound sweeping over us. In my rational moments, I realized that there was a slightly excessive reverberation that somewhat mars this movement. Yet, in the end, this did not matter. In his recording, Gunther Kaunzinger provides extra drama, aided by his quick tempos. (His recording of this symphony is 10 minutes shorter than Roth). But Roth brilliantly plays this amazing music.

If anything, Roth is even more impressive in the Second Symphony, which was composed in 1902, four years after the First Symphony. We can sense how, in those four years, Vierne had gained in maturity. Roth builds the second movement Choral to a mighty climax and then transports us with songlike flutes in the third movement Scherzo. We feel the flowing of melodic currents throughout the fourth-movement Cantabile, leading into the mighty Final. I really like Larry's recording of this symphony. At the same time, it is hard not to be caught up by Kanzinger's faster tempos and more intense approach. But overall, Roth won me over.

The booklet contains excellent notes by Richard Corser. I look forward to additional volumes in this series. Highly recommended. John E. Roos