Review - Midnight at Notre-Dame

Artist: Olivier Latry

Midnight at Notre-Dame
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Midnight at Notre-Dame

Latry is the titular organist at Notre-Dame, which means he is intimately familiar with the gargantuan instrument inside the storied cathedral. Unsurprisingly, Latry also has both the creepy looks and the heavy-handed organ style one would expect from a guy with a full-time job at Quasimodo's pad. This selection of nine well-known works includes a couple of Bach chorales, Mozart's "Adagio and Fugue in C minor" and, most intimidatingly, the "Pilgrim's Chorus" from Wagner's Tannhäuser. The program highlights the imposing physicality of Notre-Dame's organ as well as Latry's impressive dexterity on it, without sounding like the soundtrack to a bad horror movie. Released as a hybrid SACD, the disc contains a 5.1 surround-sound mix that is sonically rich enough to provide as much of a sense of the spaciousness of the environment as will fit in your living room. The sheer impact of the organ's sound is magnified by the mix; thus, the heavy assault of the "Pilgrim's Chorus" is that much heavier, and an excerpt from Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust" is nearly overwhelming in its intensity.