Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Widor: Works for Organ

Christopher Jacobson

(3 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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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.

Christopher Jacobson – Organ
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Kazuki Yamada – Conductor

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Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - Ia. Adagio - Allegro moderato
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - Ib. Poco adagio
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - IIa. Allegro moderato - Presto
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78, R. 176 'Organ' - IIb. Maestoso - Allegro
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ia. Andante
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ib. Allegro giocoso
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Ic. Andante moderato
Organ Concerto in G Minor, FP 93 - Tempo allegro, molto agitato
Organ Symphony No. 5 in F Minor, Op. 42 No. 1 - V. Toccata

Total time: 01:05:08

Additional information





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Original Recording Format


Job Maarse

Recording Engineer

Jean-Marie Geijsen, Erdo Groot

Recording Location

Victory Hall, Geneva in August 2017

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD 64

Release DateJune 14, 2019

Press reviews

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.

Audio Review – Album Of The Month 5 out of 5

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.

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.


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