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  CPO -
  777 443-2
  Widor: Organ Symphony - Christian Schmitt, Stefan Solyom
  Charles-Marie Widor: Organ Symphony No. 5 in F minor Op. 42, Sinfonia sacra Op. 81

Christian Schmitt (organ)
Bamberg SO
Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie
Stefan Solyom
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 3

Site review by Geohominid October 29, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:    
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Review by gonzostick November 10, 2009 (9 of 24 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
STAY AWAY FROM THIS DISC, IT IS TERRIBLE!!! DO NOT BELIEVE THE PREVIOUS REVIEW. I made the mistake of believing that review, ordered the disc from jpc in Germany, and the recording HAS NO BASS!!! I just wasted almost $50 on an incompetent recording. It is recorded in a very DEAD concert hall, the double basses in the orchestra have NO low frequencies, and the organ just sounds like a VERY large accordion. I am an orchestra conductor AND a concert organist with a doctorate in BOTH performance areas. I know what both of these should sound like and THIS IS NOT IT!!! Am I mad about this??? You bet I am! The only reason to ever put a massive pipe organ with an orchestra in concert is to do what an orchestra cannot do, MOVE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF AIR. This recording fails miserably in that respect.

If you want a better organ/orchestra disc that will move air in your home (be careful with your speakers!!!), check out the Chandos FANTAISIE TRIOMPHALE SACD with Ian Tracey, Rumon Gamba, the BBC Philharmonic, and the organ of Liverpool Cathedral. THAT is the way to record this repertoire. Another recent organ and orchestra recording, on Ondine, features the opening concert in Verizon Hall in Philadelphia. It has the BEST recording of the Barber Toccata Festiva ever done (BTW: check out the premiere RBCD recording by Biggs and Ormandy, where Biggs rewrites the solo organ part because it is too pianistic for his organ technique!!!), but the rest of the disc is compromised by the idiotic conducting of the hack conductor, Christoph Eschenbach. The Poulenc Concerto and the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony tempos are so completely off the mark he even makes the gleaming Philadelphia Orchestra play like pigs.

My Oppo BPD-83 SACD surround system plays analog-direct into 1,000 watts of amplification that are connected to full-range monitors all around my listening area. These speakers are capable of REAL response to 10Hz without doubling or distortion. When a proper organ recording is played in my home, the air in the whole home MOVES. This disc does NOT do that in any way.

I suspect this is a performance originally recorded for radio broadcast in Europe. It was not recorded to DSD, just PCM. The possibility for broadcasting the full energy of pipe organ bass is very limited on radio. What is worse, not only does this large instrument boast a specification with a substantial pedal division and 32-foot stops, the bass section of the orchestra gets sucked out of the frequency range so that the recording sounds like a bad old RCA Dynagroove. I suspect some very stupid engineering misconduct here.


I should say this problem is only limited to the execrable recording. The performances are VERY good and very exciting, especially in the transcribed version, for organ and orchestra, of Widor's 6th Solo Organ Symphony. The solo organist on this disc is excellent, but, to get ANY bass response from this disc, it must be played at such levels, it's unlistenable. Why do I mark down the performance, because the artists should have insisted on the recording not being so lacking in bass.

I am disappointed at cpo, the label, as they have many fine organ recordings by Flamme, some of which I have reviewed, where the instrument sounds wonderful and does what a pipe organ MUST do, MOVE AIR. Check out his recordings of the complete organ works of Duruflé, and Bruhns.

One of my biggest disappointments in SACD is the Virgil Fox ENCORES disc on Living Stereo. The instrument is one of the largest in the USA, at the New York City Riverside Church, and it has NO credible bass, just like this terrible disc. The annotations in the cpo booklet make it a point to boast about the acoustics and the bass power of the instrument when playing with the orchestra in the German Hall. The real truth, on the basis of extended listening, is the instrument is overwhelmed by the orchestra.

A great example of organ on SACD is the classic Living Stereo Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony with Munch and Boston. That instrument MOVES AIR. It is not just a function of the recording, either. I just got the Boston Symphony Brahms REQUIEM disc, conducted by James Levine, and the organ is just as powerful and glorious. I will be doing a review of that disc very soon.

Stay away from this terrible recording. I just bought a 50 dollar drink coaster... I suspect the previous reviewer on this site does not have equipment that can properly reproduce this recording. in spite of the fact that the other reviewer makes it a point to talk about how connected these works are to the famous Wanamaker Organ at the Lord & Taylor Store in Philadelphia, he should have known how bad this disc really is. I have heard the Wanamaker instrument. It is one of the largest in the world and the amounts of air it moves with its massive pedal division made it a favorite of Leopold Stokowski when he was director at Philadelphia. Many premieres of works for organ and orchestra were done at Wanamaker's with Stokowski. I suspect he got that information from the booklet that comes with the disc. Still, the disc is terrible!

One of the works played on the Ian Tracey disc, the Dupre Cortege et Litanie, was premiered in concert by Philadelphia with Stokowski and Dupré at the console of the Wanamaker Organ. THAT must have been mind-blowing.

Shame on the engineering turkeys that put out this sonic disaster... Buy the Chandos disc instead!!!

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Review by krisjan March 13, 2010 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Works: 2  

Charles-Marie Widor - Organ Symphony No. 5, Op. 42 No. 1
Charles-Marie Widor - Sinfonia sacra, Op. 81