Late Arrival...EUGÈNE REUCHSEL (1900-1988): La Vie du Christ, Bouquet de France.
Catalogue Number: 08U073
Label: Resonus Classics
Description: Reuchsel had a noteworthy career as a virtuoso pianist (he was a Busoni pupil), and subsequently also as organist before starting to concentrate increasingly on composition from the late 1930s onward. As pianist he specialised in the performance of Chopin and Liszt and as organist, in the tradition from Baroque to Romantic, so it is unsurprising that his compositional style remained similarly conservative. These two sets of pieces were written in the last few years of his life and their eloquence and natural affinity with the organ speaks of a lifetime's experience of the instrument, but in terms of style they contain nothing that would have given Fauré or Franck (with whom he was acquainted) the slightest pause for thought. La Vie du Christ comprises nineteen miniature vignettes of the life of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the Ascension by way of miracles, teachings and incidents drawn from St Luke's narrative. The character of the pieces range from meditative and prayerful to grand and triumphant. Although the composer was clearly unconcerned with innovation this does not imply a lack of originality or expressive power; the austere depiction of the Crucifixion, for instance, is a stunning piece of instrumental drama. Bouquet de France consists of ten sumptuous, quite harmonically elaborate transcriptions of traditional French melodies, with tasteful illuminating ornamentation and decorative embellishments. Simon Niemiński (Rieger organ of St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh).