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The first volume of Nolan’s survey of all the Widor organ symphonies unsurprisingly dispatched the most popular numbers (5 & 6). Volume 2 features the first two symphonies. While ground-breaking in their symphonic concept, Widor’s ideas are still developing in an exploration of different tonal and structural possibilities. In the wrong hands these disparate movements can lack cohesion, but there is no doubting that Nolan’s great affinity with this music really lifts the notes off the page. The organ of La Madeleine is beautiful in the softer movements, but I couldn’t help longing for Widor’s instrument at St Sulpice in the tutti passages, which would deliver more grandeur and clarity.

RUPERT GOUGH Read the full review on Agora Classica

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