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Charles Tournemire

(1870-1939)

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The complete recordings

- Sainte Clotilde, Paris, 1930 & 1931

The complete recordings of Charles Tournemire from Sainte Clotilde, Paris 1930-31 hardly need any introduction to organists. They consist of some works by Cesar Franck, two movements from his L’Orgue Mystique, and of course his legendary five improvisations which Maurice Duruflé transcribed and published in 1958.


He was a student of Cesar Franck and was the organist of Sainte Clotilde from 1898 succeding Gabriel Pierné until his death in 1939. Though his skills as an interpreter are well preserved here his greatest ability was to improvise.

A technical note: When you remaster old recordings you are always faced with problems concerning how much noise you are going to remove and how much equalization you are going to make. When you remove noise you always remove a little bit of the music as well. So when you restore old recording you are in fact interpretating the music as well; you can alter the actual timbre of the instrument and you can “colour” nuances as it fits you – in other words it is basically up to the aesthetics of the audio technician how the music is going to sound!

I’ve heard many (!) transfers of old recordings some are completely free of surface noise and sound hollow and unnatural and some are hardly remastered at all with too much surface noise so all the details are lost. The best remasterings, in my opinion, are done with a clear musical aesthetic in mind keeping as much surface noise and having a natural sound of the instrument and surroundings - bringing the music as much up front as possible.

The present remasterings have it all! Michael Gartz’s mint condition originals and Charles Lever’s subtle sense of details have provided the most excellent remastering I’ve ever heard - not just organ recordings but in general. The clarity is simply amazing and we can now hear details as we were seated on the organ loft just beside Charles Tournemire back in 1930 and 1931. If Duruflé had been able to hear these remastering the legendary transcriptions would have been much different.

So sit back and let these transfers take you back to Paris in the 1930s.

Big thanks to Michael Gartz for sharing these recording with us and letting me use them on IHORC but as much thanks to Charles Lever for his world class remastering.