Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Peter Richard Conte|
Grand Celebration (Dig)
"There is nothing here that is short of `fabulous' in its original sense of `coming from a fable.' The instrument is unbelievable. Conte's brilliance in registration is incredible, his playing credibly, refreshingly excell... more »
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"There is nothing here that is short of `fabulous' in its original sense of `coming from a fable.' The instrument is unbelievable. Conte's brilliance in registration is incredible, his playing credibly, refreshingly excellent. " -- The American Organist Cover Sticker: A powerhouse of sound! This magnificent live CD celebrating Macy's 150th anniversary combines sultry strings, elegant winds, and powerful brass with the world's mightiest organ. Peter Conte at the Wanamaker Organ (the world's largest musical instrument) adds a second symphony of sound.
Its A Wonderful Disk
Robert L. Edwards | New York, NY United States | 02/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After more than 80 years, Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra was finally presented in a live concert for the first time with the organ and orchestra for which it had been written.
I first heard this work in the late '60s when Capital Records released the famous Virgil Fox LP. That recording in CD form has been floating around in un-official re-releases of varying quality for a long time. If you ever see it, grab it.
The Jongen symphony was commissioned in 1926 by Rodman Wanamaker to inaugurate the organ installed in his famous Philadelphia store, with the premiere scheduled for 1928. But the death of Jongen's father and then a year later of Rodman Wanamaker himself resulted in the cancellation of the premiere. The composition lay dormant until Virgil Fox resurrected it.
The Grand Court Organ at Wanamaker's in Philadelphia (now Macy's) was built for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, bought by Mr. Wanamaker and installed in his store in 1911. It was then, and is today, the largest operational musical instrument in the world. In 1919, Leopold Stokowski and The Philadlephia Orchestra walked up the street and around the corner to play a concert in Wanamaker's Grand Court. There was a standing-room-only crowd of 15,000 people and about that many standing outside the store, turned away because there was no more room inside.
In preparation for Macy's 150th anniversary, the corporation that operates Macy's began to restore the organ, whose pipes are installed on 7 floors of the store. In 2008, a concert co-sponsored by the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ (thank goodness for those folks!), joined the Philadelphia Orchestra with the Wanamaker Organ and its present organist, Richard Conte and the Orchestra's Associate Conductor Rossen Milanov.
There are a few recordings of the Jongen available including a pretty good one on Telarc with Michael Murray and the San Francisco Symphony (also grab this one while you can since Telarc was destroyed by the company that bought it out and their wonderful catalog is fast disappearing). Jongen: Symphonie Concertante For Organ & Orchestra/Franck: Fantasie In A/Pastorale
So how does this recording compare? Well, the initial value is hearing the work at all, and secondly, experiencing what it might have been like to have been present at the premiere in the early part of the last century. If you don't have the Virgil Fox recording or the Michael Murray, then you are not likely to be disappointed in places, but to be fair, given the "hall" and the spread of the organ installation, clarity and bite are not exactly present. That opening organ chord sounds far too distant instead of grabbing you as it does on other recordings. The Grand Court is a very tall space and the sound descends on listeners so the sound often lacks in-your-face intensity. But the lowest organ pipes are impressively reproduced. And you'll never forget the sound of a timpani in this space. The 3rd movement is more expressive and sensitively played here than elsewhere; the control, shaping and color in the last minute is astonishing. The minutes-long crescendo of the last movement is very effective with the sound finally becoming powerful and overwhelming. Milanov drives this Toccata with the relentless energy of a madman with a stick in his hand. This is the stuff of which chills are made. And those pedal notes!! (Did anyone worry the building would come down from all that vibration?!)
Mr. Conte makes good use of the many choirs of the restored Wanamaker organ and chooses unique, interesting and appropriate solo stops. He exhibits nice phrasing in an overall high quality performance.
The Dupre Cortege & Litany in its organ/orchestral form is an unknown and wonderful miniature; the concluding "Pomp and Circumstance" couldn't be better. It really sparkles.
Expense was lavished on the packaging: its a nice three-fold heavy paper/plastic combo with colorful pictures and an informative booklet that is tucked away inside the front fold.
Overall, in many ways this is a spectacular disc that I am grateful to have."