This third volume completes Andrew-John Smith’s series of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Music, which has been praised for the compelling brilliance of the performances, the inspired choice of instrument and the remarkable quality of the music itself.
The recital ends with the formidable Fantaisie pour orgue-Aeolian, a work which makes extraordinary technical demands on the organist—in fact the composer himself wrote that it was ‘unplayable by the fingers and feet’. This led to the work being condemned to obscurity and it was as recently as 1988 that it was reconstructed and published for the first time. Andrew-John Smith’s performance defies this edict, and the translation of the original registration to the organ of La Madeleine is a feat of ingenuity.
Smith convincingly suggests that Saint-Saens intended this allegedly unplayable piece [Fantaisie pour orgue-Aeolian] for the self-playing instrument in the Grosvenor Gallery in London' New Bond Street. He does, however, dramatically prove that the work, at the hands of a true master, is far from unplayable. A fitting climax to a wonderful recorded series. Gramophone