Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The ghoulish side of French organ music

The William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, which has been in operation for a month at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, got a razzle-dazzle baptism in September in the usual way for concert hall organs -- with orchestra in Saint-Saëns' blow-out "Organ" Symphony.

Still, the organ -- built by C.B. Fisk, housing 4,322 pipes and costing close to $3 million -- will be used only a handful of times this season, mainly in programs by the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Two pops events are cliché spookfests: a Halloween program and, in April, an organ-accompanied screening of the silent-film version of "Phantom of the Opera."

Sunday afternoon was the hall's first and only organ recital of the season. The soloist was Olivier Latry, who as organist of Notre Dame knows something about Paris spooks. His February recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall concentrated on the ghoulish side of French organ music. He paraded many of the same names Sunday, although with music not quite so weird.

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