The Casavant organ at St Paul’s Church in Toronto is one of the most spectacular in the country. It was installed in 1915 and has since resounded like an Anglo-American cathedral instrument, which is why it was designed by Casavant & Frères. Matthew Larkin has designed an appropriate programme, bringing to the fore the full and sumptuous sonorities of the 7500-pipe beast. The emphasis is on English and Canadian repertoire (Howells, Willan, MacMillan, Mallory, Ager), but there are also fine intrusions into French Baroque, Romantic and modern music (Couperin, Franck, Duruflé, Messiaen), Germanic music (Reger, Jongen, Bach) and a few beauties of mixed contours (Mendelssohn and his Sonata No. 3, composed in England and reflecting the British style). The overall sound is beautiful, albeit a little distant (the COVID has nothing to do with it!), and above all, the playing is full of subtle nuances and colours, but never loses the undeniable grandeur and solemnity desired by both the chosen programme and this superb instrument. For organ lovers, this is a must. For those who hesitate, it’s a great way to dive into this sometimes mysterious universe, and above all to get to know a masterpiece of pan-Canadian musical genius (Quebecois for the machinery, Ontarian for the playing).
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