Tournemire: Complete Organ Music

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Charles Tournemire was born in Bordeaux in 1870. A child prodigy he became organist-accompagnateur at age 11 at the St. Pierre in Bordeaux. At the Paris Conservatory he had lessons from De Bériot and César Franck, after whose death he continued with Charles-Marie Widor. In 1891 he became organist of the famous Basilika St. Clotilde in Paris, a post he held till his death in 1939.

Composer: Charles Tournemire
Artists: Tjeerd van der Ploeg (organ)

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Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) ranks among the most important organ composers of the 20th century, writing in a language that drew for its expressive power on the centuries-old tradition of French organ music from Couperin to Franck, as well as the timbral innovations pioneered by the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, anticipating in his boldest harmonic strokes and most perfumed textures the music of Olivier Messiaen.

However, while never exactly overlooked either by organists or listeners, Tournemire’s output has suffered somewhat in the shadow of more extrovert composer-performers such as Marcel Dupre and Messiaen. It takes a particularly refined sensibility as well as the right instrument and an unassailable technique to do his complex music full justice. The Dutch organist Tjeerd van der Ploeg has long been recognised as one of the composer’s most persuasive advocates, one of very few with the stamina and dedication to make a complete recording of the Orgue mystique project which was Tournemire’s life’s work. Alongside it, however, he composed many other suites and standalone pieces throughout his career, ranging from the brilliant Sortie Op. 2 to the more ruminative pleasures of the Fioretti Op. 60 (based on the sayings of St Francis of Assisi) and extended meditations on the Seven Last Words.

Van der Ploeg’s achievement is widely recognised by his fellow organists. Among the most celebrated of them was his fellow Dutchman Albert de Klerk, who wrote: ‘These are sounds for meditation and prayer. You will be gripped by this and will not let go. I have nothing but praise for Tjeerd van der Ploeg’s playing. This man understands Tournemire. His playing is flexible, the articulation is just right. His registrations are usually excellent. […] The instrument has been chosen correctly, a great wealth of fundamental voices, reeds and silent solo registers. The present set reissues recordings made around the turn of the millennium on superb French instruments in Douai Abbey, Cambrai Cathedral and the church of Notre Dame d’Auteuil in Paris.


0:00:00 Symphonie choral d’orgue, Op. 69

Sei fioretti, Op. 60:
0:24:05 I. —
0:28:17 II. —
0:33:05 III. —
0:37:40 IV. —
0:42:36 V. —
0:46:29 VI. —

0:50:58 Symphonie sacrée, Op. 71

Trois poèmes, Op. 59:
1:16:09 I. Poème I
1:27:15 II. Poème II
1:39:58 III. Poème III

Suite evocatrice, Op. 74:
1:51:40 I. Grave
1:53:15 II. Tierce en taille et récit de cromhorne
1:57:05 III. Flûte d’écho
1:58:29 IV. Jeu doux et voix humaine
2:01:41 V. Caprice

2 Fresques symphoniques sacrées, Op. 75/76:
2:07:06 I. Fresque No. 1
2:19:28 II. Fresque No. 2

2:30:46 Fantaisie symphonique, Op. 64

7 Chorals-Poèmes d’orgue pour les sept paroles du Xrist, Op. 67:
2:47:45 I. Pater, dimitte illis, nesciunt enim quid faciunt
2:58:04 II. Hodie mecum eris in paradiso
3:07:36 III. Mulier, ecce filius tuus/ Ecce mater tua
3:15:30 IV. Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani
3:24:11 V. Sitio
3:32:34 VI. Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum
3:40:23 VII. Consummatum est

3:46:42 Andantino, Op. 2
3:50:49 Sortie pour grand orgue, Op. 3
3:55:21 Pièce symphonique pour grand orgue, Op. 16

Suite de morceaux pour grand orgue, Op. 19:
4:02:54 I. Adagio
4:05:50 II. Scherzetto
4:09:12 III. Toccata

5 Interludes:
4:12:56 I. —
4:14:01 II. —
4:15:05 III. —
4:15:43 IV. —
4:17:06 V. —

Suite de morceaux pour grand orgue, Op. 24:
4:18:08 I. Pastorale
4:23:06 II. Communion
4:27:49 III. Ite missa est-Sortie

4:33:49 Triple choral pour grand orgue, Op. 41

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