Reviews

Recording Performance Review

The American Organist Magazine, December 2012
The Complete Organ Works of Jean Langlais. Ann Labounsky, organist.

Venues and organs: III/82 Casavant (1977, Opus 3353) of St. Peter Roman Catholic Cathedral, Erie, Pa.; IV/105 Casavant (1963, Opus 2729) of Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pa.; IV/115 Walcker/Skinner/Andover (1857/1931/1970) of Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, Mass.; III/76 Beuchet-Debierre (1848/1946) of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, Angouleme, France; 111/48 Beuchet-Debierre (1848/1946) of the Cathedral of Saint-Samson, Dolde-Bretagne, France; III/56 Kimball/Morell (1912/1994) of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Denver, Colo.; III/46 Cavaillé-Coll/Merklin (1894/1994) of Saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts, Paris, France. Voix du Vent Recordings, LLC (26 CDs in 13 volumes). www.voixduventrecordings.com

As performer, teacher, and author, Ann Labounsky is recognized as a leading authority on the life and music of Jean Langlais. Haig Mardirosian has reviewed Labounsky’s biography Jean Langlais: The Man and His Music in THE AMERICAN ORGANIST (Feb. 2001) and her DVD Life and Music of Jean Langlais (TAO June 2007). Labounsky was a student of Langlais (also of Andre Marchal) under a Fulbright scholarship from 1962 to 1964 in Paris. Performing many of the composer’s works during that period on the organ at Sainte-Clotilde, she was the first American to be awarded the Diplôme de Virtuosité with Mention Maximum in 1964. She began recording the organ works of Langlais in 1979; the entire project spanned a period of 24 years, the final of the 26 discs being completed in 2003. In October 1978, Langlais commented. “I have just learned that the recordings of my organ music will happen. This is the greatest joy of my life and it is to you, dear Ann, that I owe this.” Langlais had direct involvement in the planning and execution of the recordings until 1985. He reviewed tapes and provided detailed information for the program notes. The first 18 discs were previously released by the Musical Heritage Society. With the completion of the project, the entire series is now available, along with the biography and DVD, on Labounsky’s label, Voix du Vent. This is the only complete recording of Langlais’s organ works.

Langlais employed multiple influences in his prodigious output of some 300 organ pieces. He followed the tradition of music making at Sainte-Clotilde (where he was organist from 1945 to 1988) beginning with Franck and including Franck’s pupils Tournemire, Mahaut, and Marty, as well as Marchal and Dupré, with whom Langlais studied. Langlais’s deep Catholic faith and his particular veneration of Mary were at the core of much of his creative work. Chant forms the nucleus of a significant portion of his music. (The changes incurred by Vatican II were devastating to Langlais; Labounsky surmises that the related stress caused Langlais’s heart attack in 1975). Among the musical elements Langlais incorporated in his compositions were modality, medieval music, folk music, polytonality, synthetic scales, added rhythms, extramusical symbolism, serial technique, and musical anagrams venerating the names of those close to him. Langlais was a perpetual innovator, constantly striving to find new means of expression, color, and emotion. Unlike composers whose work follows a discernible progression from early to late, Langlais could follow a complex work with one in simple style. A severely dissonant work could be followed by one of relative consonance. Langlais was particularly adept in his use of dissonance. sometimes mild, sometimes severe, for coloristic and emotional effect. An intriguing feature of many of his pieces is the use of a pure, triadic final chord that follows a dissonant sonic maze.

Langlais’s first work is a Prelude and Fugue. While drawing inspiration from Impressionism and adhering to the strictures of the chosen form, this music already shows signs of Langlais’s penchant for harmonic color. His final piece is a Trio, a conservative piece lasting less than three minutes. In between is a colossal body of work that in many ways is an autobiography of a complex and abundantly lived life. While Langlais admired and performed the organ works of Bach, he found Bach’s chorale harmonizations to be boring. Langlais provides fresh and often surprising harmonic color in his treatments of familiar melodies in works such as American Folk-Hymn Settings, Christmas Carol Hymn Settings, and his many settings of chant.

The majority of Langlais’s works are cast in groups (Suite brève, Huit Chants de Bretagne, etc.). While a substantial amount of his music was written for liturgical and concert use, some works were written for pedagogical purposes and technical development (Sonate en Trio, Sept Études de concert pour pédale, Essai, Six Petites Pièces), or as a personal response to life events (Offrande à une âme, in memory of his first wife, Jeanette; Cinq Méditations sur l’Apocalypse, during the time of his heart attack; Talitha koum, following his stroke in 1984; Première Symphonie, composed during the German occupation of Paris in 1941–42; Fête, in celebration of the end of World War II; and Mort et Resurrection, written in 1990 in contemplation of the end of his earthly life). In his Deuxième Symphoniealia Webern.”

Langlais pays tribute to the composer of the Second Viennese School with five brief movements that also pay homage to Messiaen with the inclusion of an anagram for “Dieu” and bird-like patterns. His Troisième Symphonie (recast as American Suite) pays tribute to various places and experiences he encountered on his American tours. Langlais composed two Fantaisies for two organists, included in his Mosaïques. Labounsky’s former teacher, the late David Craighead, performs the second part on the remarkable Kimball/Morell organ in Denver , where Langlais performed in 1956 (before its renovation). Trois Esquisses gothiques are scored for two organs. In this case. Labounsky performs on both organs at the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Angouleme, France, utilizing overdubbing and headphones. Langlais was most successful in shorter forms, which constitute the majority of his output. His longer works, such as Première Symphonie, Offrandè a une âme, and the Poem of Life, while extraordinary for their dramatic, expressive power and innovation, suffer from structural deficiencies.

Ann Labounsky wisely chose to present the music according to three prevailing thematic sources: chant, folk melodies, and original themes. Representative compositions from each of these categories spanning early to late and demonstrating creative development are presented on each of the 26 discs. Two early works, Trois Paraphrases grégoriennes and Poèmes évangéliques, are recorded on both the first disc (Casavant, St. Peter Cathedral) and the final disc, on the Cavaillé-Coll/Merklin organ at Saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts in Paris, where Langlais served as deputy organist in the early 1930s, and which organ inspired these particular works.

Langlais performed on all of the organs featured in these recordings, with the exception of Methuen. He was intimately familiar with many American organs through his experience of multiple tours in this country. Thus, the choice of American as well as French instruments for the recordings was felicitous. While the American organs, most bearing French tonal influences, serve this music well, one senses that the music sounds most at home on the French instruments. Langlais was specific in his registration requirements, which Labounsky faithfully observes, as Langlais expected.

Labounsky’s performances exude a naturalness that stems from her lifelong association with the composer. Her brilliant virtuosity, technical assurance, and rhythmic security enable her to perform the most treacherous passages with apparent ease and clarity. (Among the many excellent features of the video are Labounsky’s performances of excerpts of the music discussed, in which one can observe her quiet yet facile technique, a direct influence of Dupré.) Labounsky chooses the right tempo and pacing for every piece, whether miniature or extended form. She plays with fine ex pression and sensitivity, especially effective in the works founded on chant. She maintains these qualities throughout the entire span of the recording project. These performances are a result of Labounsky’s exemplary musicianship and her deep knowledge of the music and its provenance, combined with her love of and commitment to it.

The production, led by Frederick Bashour, is generally excellent. Given the 24-year span of the project, one can detect an inevitable progression in sound quality and editing. The earliest analog recordings were made with no editing (played straight through). The original LP recordings were remastered to digital format. As newer technologies became available, they were utilized in the later recordings. Two review discs had slight defects that resulted in momentary pops or skips.

The 151-page program book is a work of art in itself. It contains biographical information on the composer and performers, notes on the production, history of the recordings, photos, histories and specifications of the organs and their venues, and numerous photos (color and black-and-white) of Langlais and others surrounding his life and career. Different photos of Langlais from various periods of his life and of the venues and organs grace each of the CD cases. The main body of the program booklet contains detailed information about the music. Well written, it is as understandable to the layman as it is informative to the student or professional. While the booklet contains a table of contents, there is no index. If one wants to find the location of a particular work, one must either scan through the table of contents or the covers of the individual volumes. There are some conflicts between the program booklet and the CD covers regarding dates and number of ranks of the organs. The information given in the header of this review is taken from the program booklet.

The 13 volumes may be purchased separately or as a set. Individual volumes contain photos, works included, and specifications of the organ featured, but do not provide background information. However, the program booklet can be purchased separately. One can view the specific repertoire contained in each volume on the Voix du Vent Web site.

We join Jean Langlais in lauding Ann Labounsky for her exemplary, assiduous pursuit of excellence in presenting these definitive performances of the complete organ works. The recordings and program book are an invaluable resource for all who perform, study, or appreciate the music of Langlais.

- JAMES HILDRETH


Recording Performance Review

Choir and Organ Magazine, May/June 2012
The Complete Organ Works of Jean Langlais Ann Labounsky, organs in the USA and France Voix du Vent (26 CDs in 13 Volumes) **** (4 stars out of 5)

It is remarkable to note that whereas recordings of the complete organ works of Alain, Dupre and Messiaen (to name but three 20th-century giants) are commonplace, only once have the complete organ works of Jean Langlais been recorded. Encompassing 26 compact discs in 13 beautifully produced volumes, and accompanied by a handsome 150-page booklet, this set represents a monumental achievement – a 24-year labour of love for Ann Labounsky.

It is often said that Langlais composed too quickly and too much. His later music is sometimes dismissed as gloomy and austere. This collection, in my view, should go a long way to dispelling both those myths.

Dr Ann Labounsky is a professor of music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was a student of Langlais between 1962 and 1964, and the object of his affection for a while. In 1973 Langlais invited her to write his biography. Jean Langlais, The Man and His Music (Amadeus Press) was finally published in 2000 and, incidentally, makes an invaluable companion to these recordings. Few artists, therefore, are better placed than Labounsky to offer insight into the many moods and styles of this complex man.

The recordings were made between 1979 and 2003 for the Musical Hertage Society, originally at the request of the composer. Langlais planned and supervised the recording sessions until 1985 and forfeited half of his royalties to help the venture. The first five volumes were originally released on vinyl, then remastered onto CD, with subsequent volumes appearing during the 1990s. Completed in 2003, the cycle has now been reissued on Labounsky’s own label, Voix du Vent. Inevitably, perhaps, recording quality is variable, the first two CDs having originally been made on analogue tape. However, the digital remastering of these has been very successful. The rest are digital recordings, using different formats as the technology developed. Trois paraphases gregoriennes and Poemes evangeliques feature twice (on vols. 1 and 13).

Seven organs from France and the USA were chosen, both for convenience and for their particular associations with the composer, who played all but one of them. They could be described as either ‘American classic’ or neo-classique in style, with the exceptions of the symphonic Cavaille-Coll which Langlais played as a student (St-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts, Paris). The vivid personalities of the instruments match Langlais’s many moods well, and it is good to hear the two-organ works played in the venue for which they were composed (Angouleme), even though the orgue de choeur swims in the distance somewhat. Labounsky is joined by David Craighead for these six Esquisses.

Langlais’s vast ouput, together no doubt with a punishing rehearsing and recording schedule, must place huge demands on one interpreter. However, Labounsky’s virtuosity, authority and genuine affection for this music are very persuasive. Familiar early works, now cornerstones of the modern French repertoire, sound as fresh as the day they were written, while more esoteric, ‘difficult’ works have an elegance and warmth about them. There is much joy and wit too, from the effervescent Triptyque and jazzy Fete, to the tongue-in-cheek American Folk-Hymn Settings. Most impressively, Labounsky performs the chant-based music like a singer. This is rarely found in too many of today’s performers, who rattle through plainsong melodies with little understanding. Alas, it is difficult to ignore the age of some of the recordings: microphone placement does not always result in the clearest textures, and some of the edits are crude by modern standards.

Langlais’s organ music covers an enormous range of styles – post-Ravel, post-Vierne, neo-medieval, neo-classical, quasi-serial, to name but a few – yet every phrase bears his characteristic thumbprint, a remarkable achievement for any composer. Inevitably perhaps, with such diversity not every piece will win hearts. I wonder if the organ itself can sometimes be a stumbling block, especially in Langlais’s drier music. Such apparent coldness melts away when played by other instruments, and any listener serious about getting to know the composer should listen to the increasing number of recordings featuring his chamber, instrumental, vocal and choral works. While Langlais’s own fabulous organ recordings are obligatory listening, they represent only a tiny fraction of his output. Serious devotees of French music will want to add this historic anthology to their collection, and will delight in discovering the many new gems which each cleverly planned disc reveals.

– IAN BALL


Recording Performance Review

The Complete Works of Jean Langlais Interpreted by Ann Labounsky on Four American Organs.
Review by François Sabatier for l’Orgue, No. 297, 2012-1,p. 106-107. Translated from the French by Bette Bergheim Lustig. Voix du Vent Recordings. LLC
7114 Church Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202 USA
www.voixduventrecordings.com
26 CDs in 13 volumes, DDD

We celebrate, as we should, what can be considered a major achievement, the result of what can only be imagined as an enormous work for the organist as well as for those surrounding her and this enterprise beginning in 1979 and completed in 2003. When we have further specified that the complete works of Langlais are roughly double in length that of Bach and include more than ninety opus numbers, with some very difficult passages requiring tireless work and maturation time- we can understand that, besides the difficulties encountered in finding a recording company prepared to commit the considerable funds necessary and willing to carry out such an operation successfully (could we even find one in France?) this is inconceivable without a lot of time (almost twenty-five years) and a perseverance that we must applaud.

As a student of Jean Langlais (1962 to 1964) in Paris and of André Marchal, she had the opportunity to play regularly in France, especially at the Sainte-Clotilde church, and on the radio. She was awarded her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh where she wrote her dissertation on Jean Langlais: The Man and His Music, published in 2000 by Amadeus Press. Considered one of the finest interpreters of French music, she has thus given many concerts of Langlais’s music. A Professor of Music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, she also holds the post of organist in residence at the First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh. She has both the technique and the cultivation necessary for the performance and the transmission of this music. Listening to the volumes before us here, the interpretations are brilliant when necessary but also – without falling into the trap of over-expression—alternately tender, colorful, contemplative or humorous, and listeners will find them very satisfying. In short, the performance of this musician is perfectly suited to each situation and with the necessary rubato and restraint, she always succeeds in maintaining a certain dignity or in being convincing, without over-doing her demonstration of effortless virtuosity. She also understands very well the melancholic nature of Breton culture and the spiritual grace of the Gregorian repertoire, conditions necessary for approaching an immense part of Jean Langlais’s works.

To achieve such a result, the interpreter, rightly appreciated in her own country, sought seven instruments, four in the United States, in Erie, Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Methuen (Massachusetts), and Denver (Colorado), all neoclassical aesthetics and consistent with what the composer played or heard during his numerous stays in America. The first, completed by Casavant in 1987 for St. Peter’s Cathedral in Erie has fifty-seven real stops on three keyboards, manual and pedal, with a trumpet en chamade, a contrebombarde 32, with mixtures of each division and mutations and reeds so necessary for Langlais’s music. Very well recorded, like the other instruments in these complete works, the sounds have balance and finesse. The second organ, the one from Pittsburgh, (Calvary Episcopal Church Casavant 1963) divides its eighty-eight stops into two cases located on either side of the choir and offers four keyboards, two of them enclosed. It is a magnificent instrument, whose qualities are similar to those of the previous instruments optimal for the setting off of the large works, such as the Suite Médiévale. Quite famous and the subject of a recent book by Barbara Owen about which we reported in these same articles, the one in Methuen Memorial Music Hall comes from a hall in Boston where it was built by the German firm Walcker before its transfer and reconstruction by Skinner. Well-provided with gambas, endowed with beautiful flutes, mutations with sevenths and twenty-two sets of pedals, it is impressive with its large ensembles, but its separate stops are more distant and less refined than the previous two. Its Germanic origin is relatively felt, which does not completely correspond to the world of French artists contemporary with Langlais. But that said, the Hommage à Frescobaldi, stands out in admirable relief. On the other hand, the one in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral on which Langlais played in Denver (Kimbell 1912, rebuilt in 1994) can compete with the first two, has fifty-eight stops, about ten of which borrowed (including all the pedal reeds with the exception of the 32 feet, which is very rare) and rings with clarity and radiance. To these achievements on the other side of the Atlantic we offer in exchange three well-known French instruments, the Beuchet-Debierre of Saint-Pierre of Angoulême and Dol-de-Bretagne (originally Louis Debierre) and Cavaillé-Coll Saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts (1894) where Langlais was deputy organist from 1925 to 1934.

Of course, it is not a matter of listening to the twenty-six discs in a row and no complete works are conceived of for that, but we should congratulate ourselves that Ann Labounsky allows us thus to probe the entire work and to measure the evolution of the composer on ideal sonoric bases. But this listening should be done regularly from day to day and according to an order not necessarily the one in which the disks were recorded, which would, each one, lead to an impartial judgment of this enormous creation, which, established over about two thirds of a century, began in the era of Ravel and ended with that of Boulez. As everyone knows, if one is willing to set aside certain audacities during the 1930s such as those of Jolivet (which do not involve the organ), the major changes occur in the year 1945 with the arrival of Leibowitz and the success of Webern serialism that Jehan Alain did not know, which transformed the language of Messiaen, which Langlais did not entirely reject. Listening to the complete oeuvre, many listeners will be persuaded that the composer was made to write in a modal system or in a more or less open tonality suited for the great concert works, and especially works written for the liturgy, these moving and grandiose ceremonies which were still composed in the 1960s. Hence the admiration we can bring to his Paraphrases grégoriennes, his Incantation pour un jour saint, and his Suite medieval and in another world to the First Symphony, the Folkloric Suite, the Suite brève, or Hommage à Frescobaldi. Indeed the American Suite which was perhaps not well received, but was nonetheless an interesting initiative in the context of the secularization of the organ. After 1960, we discover, of course, other major works of a broad scope such as Hommage à Rameau and Five Meditations on the Apocalypse. As to the last compositions, they are striking in their simplicity, their tendency to meditation, their fragmented form or sometimes their improvisational nature, free and clear of all restraints.


Recording Performance Review

Organ Australia, June 2012
Langlais: The Complete Organ Works Ann Labounsky (organ) Voix du Vent CD 1025 (26-disc set, 13 volumes, including accompanying 152-page book) TT = 27.5 hours

Reviewed by Jennifer Chou

In honouring the 20th anniversary of the death of Jean Langlais, Voix du Vent has released The Complete Organ Works of Jean Langlais, a 13- volume box set of 26 CDs recorded by one of Langlais’ disciples, Ann Labounsky. The entire recording project took over 30 years from start to finish; the box set was finally released in November 2011. It is the only recording ever made of the complete organ works of this composer.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, Ann Labounsky is widely known, both in the United States an in Europe, as a virtuoso performer and improviser at the organ. She is professor of music and chairman of the Organ and Sacred Music degree programs at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and the Organ Artist in Residence at First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh.


Book Author Review

Jean Langlais, The Man & His Music by Ann Labounsky

In honouring the 20th anniversary of the death of Jean Langlais, Voix du Vent has released The Complete Organ Works of Jean Langlais, a 13-volume box set of 26 CDs recorded by one of Langlais’ disciples, Ann Labounsky. The entire recording project took over 30 years from start to finish; the box set was finally released in November 2011. It is the only recording ever made of the complete organ works of this composer.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, Ann Labounsky is widely known, both in the United States an in Europe, as a virtuoso performer and improviser at the organ. She is professor of music and chairman of the Organ and Sacred Music degree programs at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and the Organ Artist in Residence at First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh.

I first met Ann Labounsky in 2000 when she took her organ class’s members from Duquesne University to France to play the organs. I happened to be the one who showed them the Cavaille-Coll organ in Saint-Sernin inToulouse, and that was the meeting from which I came to know Labounsky as a leading American disciple of Langlais. Her marathon recording of the complete organ works by Langlais was not far from the finish line. Not only is Labounsky a disciple of Langlais who has performed his works all over the world, but she has also written an excellent and very worth reading biography on Langlais: Jean Langlais: The Man and His Music (2000). The long-anticipated release of this CD package culminated the grand finale of a gigantic project by Labounsky, who knew the man well and had worked closely with him.

When Labounsky began the recordings in 1979, recording sessions were under direct supervision by Langlais himself. This continued until 1985. Since the recordings were made over a period of 24 years (1979-2003), they present a journey of recording technology evolution from analogue to digital formats, as the technology matured. Frederick Bashour, Producer and Recording Engineer at Voix du Vent, re-mastered the early recordings and converted them to digital format for the CD release. The sound quality of these early recordings on the CDs is excellent and most satisfactory.

A variety of pipe organs associated with Langlais’ career, both in France and in America (except for the instrument of Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Massachusetts, which is not thus associated), were chosen for the recordings. CDs 1-14 were entirely recorded in the USA. Three instruments were used: the three-manual Casavant organ (1977) at St Peter Roman Catholic Cathedral in Erie, Pennsylvania; the four-manual Casavant organ (1963) at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh; and the four-manual Walcker/Skinner organ (1857/1931/1970) in Methuen Memorial Music Hall. CDs 15-26 were recorded between 1992 and 2003 in France, with the exception of CDs 19-20, which were done on the three-manual Kimbell/Morell organ (1912/1994) in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Denver. Labounsky made recording trips to France to record on two Beuchet-Debierre organs dating from 1848: in the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Angouleme, and in the Cathedral of Saint Samson in Dol-de-Bretagne. In Paris, she chose the Cavaille-Coll organ at the church of Saint Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts – where Langlais had served during the early 1930s – to record the pieces in CDs 21-26. This is the particular instrument which inspired Langlais to compose the Trois paraphrases gregoriennes and the Poemes evangeliques. Labounsky first recorded these works in 1979 on the 1977 Casavant organ (Volume 1 CD1 and CD2) but recorded them again in 2003 at Saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts for the more authentic sound of the organ. It is worth listening to the 1979 and 2003 recordings back-to-back, to hear how recording technology has changed, and to listen to the interpretation of the same works by the same performer 24 years apart.

Langlais’ output for the organ was enormous, containing over 300 pieces. Gregorian chant, folk melodies, and his own original themes are the three principle elements in Langlais’ organ music. These three elements are the main sources of Langlais’ works; they influenced his earliest compositions and continued throughout his long career as a composer. Rather than organising the recordings of Langlais’ organ works in the order of composition, from earliest to most recent, Labounsky carefully included all three stylistic elements in each volume of the CDs,and ensured that as much as possible, some development from early to more recent works should be recognisable.”

Each CD is a meticulously designed programme on its own, with great variety, and forming a showcase of the different instruments Labounsky chose to make the recordings on. Not only that, but the recording marathon of the 26 CDs also reflects the musical journey of Labounsky as an authentic interpteter of Langlais’ organ works.

Langlais’ pieces for the instrument are generally very accessible. Most works and individual movements are between a few minutes and several minutes long. There is a number of longer pieces, but apart from Poem of Life, op. 146 (CD 9), In memoriam (CD 16),and Offrande a une ame, op. 206 which has a duration of nearly 25 minutes, no composition takes more than 15 minutes to play. The duration of each CD varies between 55 and 75 minutes.

Accompanying the box set is the 152-page book which includes biographical sketches of Langlais and Labounsky, the recording history of the recordings, the history of the churches, and the specifications of each of the pipe organs used for the recordings. Painstaking efforts were made to include detailed programme notes on each piece recorded. This book can even be purchased separately on the website of Voix du Vent: www.voixduventrecordings.com.

To my taste, Labounsky has done a great job in reproducing a most convincing French sound on the American organs on 16 out of the 26 CDs. The 26 CDs can be bought as a box set, or as single volumes each containing two discs.

http://www.oswa.org.au/General/OrganAustralia.html

“The intimate, sometimes anecdotal biographical portrait is a welcome addition to the store of knowledge about 20th-century French music as a whole and this important figure specifically.”

— Choice

“Music fans in general will enjoy reading it; organists will love it, and with good reason. This is an absolutely splendid effort.”

— Donald E. Metz, American Record Guide

“The book is hard to put down and is readable at a sitting or two.”

— Haig Mardirosian, The American Organist

“A hard-to-put-down history of this fascinating musician . . . No organist should miss reading this fascinating study by Labounsky of one of France’s exciting composers and performers. Highly recommended.”

— Frederick James Kent, Penn Sounds, Spring 2001

“This is an authorized biography, so full of details that it seems as if the writer could tell us what happened every day. This is a very fine book with a nice sense of flow and clarity. The author beautifully weaves together Langlais’s compositional techniques, his teachers, travels, the musical life of Paris, and the details of a fascinating personal life. Very highly recommended.”

— Pastoral Music

“An achievement we should all be delighted to read.”

— The Organ, Vol. 79 No. 314

“Labounsky’s is the first comprehensive study of [Langlais] in English.”

— Benjamin Van Wye, Notes

“This work contains many riches.”

— Lawton Posey, Reed Organ Society, May 28, 2001

“An exhaustively researched biography of a grand virtuoso of twentieth-century music.”

— Willis M. Buhle, The Midwest Book Review

“This engrossing work is the product of thorough research. . . . Professor Labounsky has constructed a definitive biography that will enthrall and instruct organists, musicologists, and music historians for many years ahead.”

— James B. Hartman, The Diapason

“A volume which should be on the bookshelf of any organist remotely interested in any of the aspects of life which went to produce the phenomenon that was Jean Langlais.”

— Organists’ Review (U.K.)

“This biographical study by Labounsky, a Langlais protegee and chair of organ and sacred music at Duquesne University, delves into all facets of his personal and professional life.”

— Library Journal