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GUY BOVET - Bovet Plays Bovet

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GUY BOVET - Bovet Plays Bovet - Guy Bovet (Organ) - Woehl Organ in St. Petri, Cuxhaven - 760623067520 - Released: February 2017 - MDG 3200675-2

Toccata
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Trois petits préludes anglais: I. Bien allant, plutôt vif et très chantant
Trois petits préludes anglais: II. Récit de Cornet
Trois petits préludes anglais: III. Carillon de Westminster
Den die Hirten lobten sehre
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Voici Noël)
Puer natus in Bethlehem (Un enfant nait à Bethlehem)
Wie schön leucht uns der Morgenstern (Voici l'étoile du matin)
Das alte Jahr vergangen ist (La vieille ann s'en est allée)
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (Victime pure et sainte)
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Jésus, ton église est prête)
Fuga sopra un soggetto
Le Boléro du divin Mozart
Ricercare
Toccata planyavska
Trois préludes hambourgeois: I. Salamanca
Trois préludes hambourgeois: II. Sarasota
Trois préludes hambourgeois: III. Hamburg

This excellent MDG recording originally released back in 1997 has now been re-released 20 years later to mark the 75th anniversary of the Swiss composer/organist Guy Bovet (b. 1942). His music, despite being serious, harmonically progressive and complex, is at times infused with a slight tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. As if a little devil on his shoulder was prodding him to inject a foreign, out of place theme or motif within a piece and make it blend in as if it's actually part of the piece, or even it's impetus. A perfect example of that is the Fuga sopra un soggetto (Fugue on a subject) which according to the booklet notes was composed for a "fugue party" at the Boston Bach Society. It's "subject" is the famous Henry Mancini theme for the Pink Panther movies. But even something that far out in left field, after being subjected to Guy Bovet's ingenious and masterful treatment, comes out the other end sounding like a typical, perfectly structured Baroque fugue, complete with the always expected perfect harmonic resolution at the end. I've heard many fugues built on very odd and/or asymmetrical themes but this one takes the cake.

Like most composers of his generation, he doesn't write music for the organ, but rather music to be performed on the organ. Most of it is not meant for liturgical use, but the composer himself states: "If you play the music in a concert hall rather than a church, it may lose some of it's impact since much of it often relies on the discrepancy between the music and the place where it is played." Nonetheless, being an organist himself and a Professor of Organ, he certainly knows how to write music for the instrument to its full potential, and seems to intuitively know exactly which registration enhances each and every piece, and at the same time brings out the sonic beauty of the various pipes through well judged combinations using a limited number of stops. For example his use of only 3 stops, a Salicional, Unda maris and Viola for the Das alte Jahr vergangen ist (La vieille ann s'en est allée) produces a soundscape that will haunt your mind long after you've heard it.

The pipe organ is a fascinating instrument and a strong manifestation of the achievements of the human mind. It would be a shame if composers like Guy Bovet and his contemporaries were the last generation to write music for it. Highly recommended to all pipe organ fans. If you missed it 20 years ago, don't pass on it now!

Jean-Yves Duperron - March 2017