The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores

CD Review:
Anne Page: French Music for Harmonium II
Anne Page: Mustel 1897 harmonium


Louis Vierne: Messe Basse op. 30
Charles Tournemire: Petites Fleurs Musicales
Naji Hakim: Expressions for Organ
Gaston Litaize: 24 Preludes Liturgiques
Jean Langlais: Dominica in Palmis
Rene Vierne: 12 Pieces de Differents Caracteres

Total time: 68:53
Released in 1990
Review Date: December 2001

Label: Voix Celeste Recordings 002
Available from: Phil and Pam Fluke

Review by Henry Doktorski

Anne Page is well known to audiences in the UK and abroad as an organist of great virtuosity, integrity and musicianship. Born and educated in Perth, Australia, she subsequently studied in Europe with Marie-Claire Alain and Peter Hurford, giving her London début at the Royal Festival Hall in 1988. Anne Page is acknowledged as one of England's leading exponents of the art harmonium, and has appeared as soloist on the instrument at the Oundle Festival, Edinburgh Festival and the Three Choirs Festival.

In addition to her enthusiasm for historic music, she is also an advocate of contemporary composers and frequently programs new works. On this CD she includes not only performs works by Romantic composers such as Louis Vierne and Charles Tournemire, but also less familiar works by 20th-century composers such as Naji Hakim (b. 1955), Gaston Litaize (b. 1909) and Jean Langlais (b. 1907).

The harmonium d'arte is, in my opinion, the zenith of the evolution of free-reed instruments. What other free-reed instrument can boast of the colorful variety of the following stops?

Bass (2 1/2 octaves):

4' Basson
8' Cor Anglais
16' Bourdon
4' Clarion
2' Harpe Eolinne (II)
Treble (2 1/2 octaves):

8' Flute
8' Percussion
15' Clarinette
4' Fifre
4' Hautbois
16' Musette
16' Voix Celeste (II)
32' Baryton

Truly a veritable free-reed orchestra.

Anne Page plays this magnificent 1897 Mustel instrument -- located at the church of St. Mary the Virgin at Shelton, Norfork, England -- expertly and with finesse. I can only glorify her abilities. The works she performed on this CD are both accessible and beautiful. Louis Vierne, Charles Tournemire and Jean Langlais were great organists and are also well known for their organ compositions. Naji Hakim, Gaston Litaize and Rene Vierne (the youngest of the three Vierne brothers) may not be household names, but their music deserves to be heard.

I am delighted to recommend this CD for all classical harmonium lovers. The CD booklet notes are comprehensive and written in English and French.

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