Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor - Works for Organ (2019)

Charles-Marie Widor, Francis Poulenc, Camille Saint-Saens

Christopher Jacobson

Kazuki Yamada


Christopher Jacobson returns to NativeDSD Music with his 3rd DSD release.  Works for Organ features music from Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor.  Jacobson is accompanied on the album by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Kazuki Yamada.  The album entered the NativeDSD Top 10 Best Sellers list within 24 hours of release.  It's available at the Native DSD Music store in Stereo and Multichannel DSD.

The monumental and colorful sounds of the organ and symphony orchestra blend together perfectly on this splendid recording of Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony, Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani and the Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor’s Organ Symphony No. 5.

The majestic organ chords at the start of the final movement of Saint-Saëns’s symphony equal the sublime effect of Beethoven’s choral conclusion of his Ninth, and have made it an audience’s favorite straight from the moment of its 1886 premiere. Poulenc’s organ concerto shows the composer’s retrospective side, while simultaneously offering flashes of his stylistic playfulness. After Poulenc’s serene concerto, Widor’s Toccata offers a vibrant conclusion to this program.

The Geneva Victoria Hall organ is played by Christopher Jacobson, who has already released a solo album with performances on the Aeolian Organ at Duke University Chapel, as well as a recording of Tyberg Masses with the South Dakota Chorale on Pentatone which are available from NativeDSD.

On this album, he works with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and conductor Kazuki Yamada, both of whom have DSD albums that are also available at NativeDSD Music.

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Christopher Jacobson

Christopher Jacobson, FRCO, is Duke University Chapel Organist and Organist at Duke Divinity School. At Duke he instituted and oversees the Chapel Organ Scholar Program and directs the Evensong Singers in weekly Sunday afternoon Choral Evensong in Duke Chapel. Before assuming his position, Jacobson was Associate Organist at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, and Assistant Organist at Washington National Cathedral where he assisted in training of the cathedral choirs and playing the organ for over 200 choral services annually. As a soloist, Mr. Jacobson has presented organ recitals across North America, Europe, and Australia. He has won top prizes in numerous organ competitions including the National Young Artist Competition of the American Guild of Organists, the Miami International Organ Competition, and the John R. Rodland Competition in sacred music.

In addition to performances of the organ works of César Franck and Maurice Duruflé, he has presented recitals of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach on several occasions across the United States. As an accompanist he has accompanied choirs on tours to Saint Thomas Church in New York City, Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals in England, the American Cathedral in Paris, and the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy. An active continuo artist, Mr. Jacobson appears regularly with the early music ensemble Three Notch’d Road in Charlottesville, Virginia, and with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO), Mr. Jacobson holds the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance and the Sacred Music Diploma from the Eastman School of Music as well as a Bachelor of Music degree with distinction in Organ Performance from St. Olaf College. His teachers have included David Higgs and William Porter at Eastman, and John Ferguson at St. Olaf College. Christopher is a graduate of Woodberry Forest and the American Boychoir School where he was a treble chorister under James Litton. 

Photo: Mark Manring

Kazuki Yamada

Yamada appears regularly with such orchestras as Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orquesta Sinfonica y Coro de RTVE and Tonku?nstler-Orchester at the Vienna Musikverein. He is Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and also holds the same title with Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, starting in the 2014/2015 season. In Japan, he holds further titles of Principal Conductor of Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Partner with Sendai Philharmonic and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa and Music Director of Yokohama Sinfonietta, an ensemble he founded whilst still a student. Passionate about choral repertoire, he is Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus’s Music Director. The chorus have released ten CDs with Yamada.

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Founded in 1918 by Ernest Ansermet, permanent conductor until 1967, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, with its 112 permanent musicians, ensures subscription concerts in Geneva and Lausanne, the City of Geneva symphony concerts, the annual fund-raising concert for the UN, as well as opera performances at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. Its reputation has been built up over the years thanks to its historic recordings and its interpretation of 20th-century French and Russian repertoire.

The orchestra's Music and Artistic Director will be Jonathan Nott from the 2016-2017 season. Its Principal Guest Conductor is Japanese maestro Kazuki Yamada.

Under the guidance of its founding conductor and subsequent music directors (Paul Kletzki 1967- 1970, Wolfgang Sawallisch 1970-1980, Horst Stein 1980-1985, Armin Jordan 1985-1997, Fabio Luisi 1997-2002, Pinchas Steinberg 2002-2005, Marek Janowski 2005-2012, Neeme Järvi, 2012-2015), the world-famous Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is an active contributor to the history of music through the discovery or support of leading contemporary composers. The pieces by Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Frank Martin, Benjamin Britten, Heinz Holliger, Peter Eötvös, James MacMillan, Pascal Dusapin, Michael Jarrell or Richard Dubugnon were premiered in Geneva by the OSR. It is  one of its important mission: supporting the symphonic creation, and particularly the Swiss one. The OSR is a partner of Pro Helvetia until 2017 for the project “Oeuvres suisses”


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Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor - Works for Organ (2019)

Charles-Marie Widor, Francis Poulenc, Camille Saint-Saens

Christopher Jacobson

    MusicWeb International

Pentatone have presented these performances in their usual excellent sound. I listened to the album using the stereo option and obtained impressive results; I imagine that listeners who are set up for surround sound will enjoy this attractive programme even more.

John Quinn[read full review]

    Audio Review - Album Of The Month -

The Mighty "Symphony With Organ" by Saint-Saens in DSD two channel and five channel files. This is a new reference for the sound of the great orchestra. It is our Album Of The Month on Audio Review. Here we are in the splendid Victoria Hall in Geneva, where the great organ melts acoustically with the orchestra. Careful concertation by Yamada who eloquently proposes the noble line of the strings and pushes where necessary over the power of an enveloping brass section. incision rendering that combines the sound of an instrument with nearly 7,000 rods to that of a large symphony orchestra. The multi-channel recording by Erdo Groot (his recordings are excellent and mainly appear on the Pentatone label) has become my new reference recording of this symphony.

Marco Cicogna

    Classical Music Sentinel

In this day and age of instant gratification, and obsessive time-consuming devices and apps like smartphones and Facebook, if a composer approached a concert promoter with the idea for a new work written for a large orchestra including a grand piano, and a powerful pipe organ, this project would most likely never get off the printed page on the grounds that it would be too much of an undertaking and way too expensive to promote and produce. And yet in 1886, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) presented such an idea as a submission for a commission he had received from the London Philharmonic Society and it was an instant hit everywhere it was performed and has become one of the most highly-regarded works for organ and orchestra as well as a respected symphony. Camille Saint-Saëns threw everything but the kitchen sink at it, but unlike the work by Poulenc, allows things to unfold in layers and unleashes all of the available forces in a sonic tidal wave during the gargantuan final movement. This highly expressive account by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the direction of conductor Kazuki Yamada emphasizes the textural quality of the orchestral writing, and in doing so achieves a perfect one-to-one blend with the pipe organ during the beautiful Adagio movement. And as soon as organist Christopher Jacobson inveigles every decibel of power from the Van den Heuvel Organ of Victoria Hall in Geneva at that crucial first chord of the final movement, then the gloves are off and a battle for supremacy ensues. Sure I've heard other recordings in which the organ was so loud that you would go around and check all your windows for cracks afterwards, but here it's the balance between the organ and the orchestral forces that strikes me as ideal. So much so that the very final, glorious chord generates a uniform and unwavering aural impact. Just as impressive, but for different reasons, is the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G Minor by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). For one thing, it's the pipe organ that opens the work with a loud and stern declamation. And throughout every movement, the interplay between the strings and the organ is a wonderful thing to hear, as well as Poulenc's trademark style of blending sacred and profane elements and features together on the same page. Christopher Jacobson's perfectly judged stop registration within each movement always creates the ideal contrast between the pipes and strings, and again the optimal balance of power is attained, in both soft and loud passages. The final two minutes of the work are Poulenc at his best, including the brief tip of the hat to Bach at the very end. And if all this glorious music wasn't enough organist Christopher Jacobson tops it all off with a brilliant reading of one of the most famous organ pieces of all time. The Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor's Fifth Symphony for Organ. Jacobson's interpretation is slower than most I've heard, but after all, throughout most of the piece the right-hand plays eight separate notes within each beat, so when played too fast everything becomes a blurry mess. His equanimous account well demonstrates the qualities of the instrument they have in Victoria Hall. Pentatone has once again produced a well-engineered recording that despite all of these massive forces overwhelming the microphones, captures it all with plenty of headroom to spare.

Jean-Yves Duperron [read full review]

Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor - Works for Organ (2019)

Charles-Marie Widor, Francis Poulenc, Camille Saint-Saens

Christopher Jacobson


NativeDSD selectively creates higher DSD bitrates of label's releases using two methods (Merging Technologies Album Publishing and Singnalyst HQPlayer Pro), depending on the original edited master source. In order to understand the processes, a bit of background is appropriate.  

NativeDSD sells only recordings that were originally recorded in DSD or DXD (352.8KHz PCM). The overwhelming majority of these recordings were edited and post processed in DXD, then converted (modulated) into DSD deliverable bit rates. NativeDSD acquires the label's original DXD edited master, and using Merging Technologies Album Publishing, creates a first generation DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256, as well as a DXD FLAC deliverable.  Additionally, on selected recordings, a 32bit PCM WAV file is extracted (the DXD PCM FLAC is 24 bits by format definition), and uses it to modulate a DSD512 using HQPlayer Pro.

The exception to the above are the few label recordings (Yarlung, Eudora, Just Listen etc.) that record in DSD, and do no PCM post processing mixing, level balancing, EQ etc. That's doable by restricting post processing to just editing, where only the edit transition interval (typically 100ms or less) is PCM converted, leaving the DSD music content unaltered when rendered. For those recordings, the DSD edited master (the actual recording master with edits) is used with HQPlayer Pro to re-modulate the missing DSD bitrates.

Why do any of this? It's to provide a DSD bitrate deliverable choice, allowing a customer to purchase the highest DSD bitrate their DAC will support.

It's correct that there's no additional music content information contained in the higher DSD bit rate from the original DSD bitrate. What's different is the uncorrelated modulation noise content placement in the frequency spectrum. When a DSD original file is converted to DXD (PCM), the inherent DSD modulation noise is removed through the decimation filtering, and re-inserted when modulated back to DSD. The modulation noise (again, uncorrelated) is the carrier part of the DSD bitstream modulation, and an inherent part of the DSD bit stream.


While the spectorial shape is the same regardless of the DSD bitrate, it's effective start and end points move an octave higher for every doubling of the DSD bitrate. For DSD64, the uncorrelated modulation noise is about -110dB at 20KHz, rising to about -50dB at 100KHz. For DSD512, the modulation noise is about -110dB at 160KHz, and -50dB at 800KHz. What this allows is for the customer's DAC to use gentler, more Gaussian shaped reconstruction filters, with far improved phase response.

Producer: Job Maarse
Recording Engineer: Jean-Marie Geijsen, Erdo Groot
Recording Location: Victory Hall, Geneva in August 2017
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 64

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PTC5186638: Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor - Works for Organ
01:05:08   Select quality & channels above
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - Ia. Adagio - Allegro moderato
Camille Saint-Saens
00:10:25   N/A
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - Ib. Poco adagio
Camille Saint-Saens
00:09:55   N/A
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - IIa. Allegro moderato - Presto
Camille Saint-Saens
00:07:48   N/A
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - IIb. Maestoso - Allegro
Camille Saint-Saens
00:08:16   N/A
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ia. Andante
Francis Poulenc
00:02:56   N/A
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ib. Allegro giocoso
Francis Poulenc
00:02:14   N/A
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ic. Andante moderato
Francis Poulenc
00:06:59   N/A
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Tempo allegro, molto agitato
Francis Poulenc
00:09:52   N/A
Organ Symphony No. 5 in F Minor, Op. 42 No. 1 - V. Toccata
Charles-Marie Widor
00:06:43   N/A

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