Rachel Laurin Oeuvres pour orgue

CD cover Demers performs Laurin by Acis

Isabelle Demers

Casavant Opus 869 (1921/2006)
Saints-Anges de Lachine, Montréal

“Superb technique allied to a phenomenal memory and a splendid flair for communication all combine to produce musicmaking of the very highest quality…This is a superb CD in all respects.”
Organists’ Review

“The music exults in bright bombast shot through with striking pyrotechnical effects…Vivid sound adds to the pleasure.”
Choir & Organ

“Demers’ brilliant and fluent performance effectively displays…The full range of the Casavant organ’s enormous registration capacity.”
Organ Canada

“A compelling listening experience”
The American Organist

DOWNLOAD & STREAM | Buy the CDIsabelle Demers | Organ Specification

Rachel Laurin (b. 1961)
1. Introduction and Passacaille on a theme by Raymond Daveluy, Op. 44

2. Cantilene, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
3. Toccatina, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
4. Intermezzo, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
5. Fugue Bouclee, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 436. Moto Perpetuo, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
7. Trumpet Tune, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
8. I Prélude, Symphony No 1, Op. 36
9. II Scherzo, Symphony No 1, Op. 36
10. III Aria, Symphony No 1, Op. 36
11. IV Toccata, Symphony No 1, Op. 36
12. Invocation, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
13. Fugue Circulaire, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
14. Choral and Variations, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
15. Rondo, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
16. Fugue Carree, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
17. Fugue Triangulaire, Twelve Short Pieces, Op. 43
18. Etude Heroique, Op. 38


“Canadian organist Isabelle Demers has quickly established herself as one of the leading performers around presently. Superb technique allied to a phenomenal memory – she plays most, if not all her concerts without the dots in front of her – and a splendid flair for communication all combine to produce musicmaking of the very highest quality. Rachel Laurin, also a Quebecois, is a composer/organist, having held posts at St-Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, and at Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa. She now devotes her time to composing, masterclasses, lecturing and recitals. Laurin’s music is immediately appealing and indeed beguiling. In an interview in the CD booklet she says that her music follows on the French symphonic tradition of Widor, Vierne and Dupré, though the disc’s opening piece, the Introduction et Passacaille would seem to suggest Reger at least, and perhaps even a passing nod to Healey Willan. Demers makes light of the technical demands and all one hears is a piece of considerable imagination beautifully unfolded. The 12 Short Pieces are equally characterful in a splendidly concise way – none is longer than three minutes – and they give Demers an opportunity to show many of the colours with which this Casavant instrument is brimming. The four-movement Symphonie opens with a largely dark sounding Prelude which gives way to a filigree Scherzo, with a more contemplative middle section. The third movement, Aria, has more than a hint of Widor in his more incense-laden moments! The finale is a Toccata written in the traditional French style, and none the worse for that. The recital ends with Étude Heroïque which is a substantial tour-de-force. I came to this CD already admiring the player but having no knowledge of the composer or her music. I admire Ms Demers even more, and if I was seeking to broaden my repertoire I should certainly be looking out Ms Laurin’s music. This is a superb CD in all respects. A great instrument sounding well in a helpful acoustic coupled to a performer totally committed to this music – the composer couldn’t ask for a better champion.”
ROGER JUDD, Organists’ Review

“Fast-emerging young Canadian organist Isabelle Demers’s second recital cements the promise of last year’s debut with a disc of surprisingly muscular works by her compatriot Rachel Laurin. Owing much to the French symphonic school, the music exults in bright bombast shot through with striking pyrotechnical effects, nowhere more vividly displayed than in the combustible Toccata of the First Organ Symphony, and the boldly realised Étude heroïque. Demers has the music firmly at her fingers, nimbly alert to Laurin’s penchant for grand statement even within compact miniatures such as the op.43 Douze courtes pièces. Vivid sound adds to the pleasure…”
MICHAEL QUINN, Choir & Organ

“Canadian organists and lovers of organ music alike will be thrilled with a 2011 CD recording by Acis featuring the work of two outstanding Canadian musicians. It consists of selected organ works by the Canadian composer Rachel Laurin, played by the brilliant young Canadian concert organist Isabelle Demers. Rachel’s position as one of Canada’s greatest living composers of organ music is well known to us all, and Isabelle Demers is rapidly being recognised as one of Canada’s best and brightest performers on the organ. The CD was recorded in L’Eglise des Saints-Anges de Lachine (Montreal), which houses the historic four-manual Casavant Opus 869 (dating from 1921, restored between 2001 – 06). The programme, brilliantly balanced, consists centrally of Laurin’s massive Symphonie no. 1 (Op. 36) surrounded by the Douzes courtes pieces (Op. 43) in two groups of six miniatures each, while the recording is opened and closed with two other major pieces, the Introduction et passacaille sur un theme de Raymond Daveluy (Op. 44) and the Etude Heroique (Op. 38). At very nearly seventy-six minutes in length, this CD is very good value for money! The Symphonie, at thirty minutes playing time, takes up nearly half of the CD and is a triumphant success. From the mysterious opening of the first movement Prelude, through the Scherzo, Aria, and Toccata, Isabelle Demers shows her complete grasp of the dramatic depths of this work. The Toccata, composed before the rest of the Symphonie and perhaps inspiring its general form, certainly provides Demers with a wonderful opportunity to display her virtuosic playing, though perhaps an even more enjoyable part of the performance is the charmingly limpid playing in the Scherzo. The full range of the Casavant organ’s enormous registration capacity is demonstrated with complete control by Demers in the enormous Prelude. In Laurin’s own words about the Introduction et Passacaille: “Through this musical homage, one can see an evocative portrait of the rich personality of M. Daveluy, as well as the reflection of a full artistic life.” Demers brilliantly presents the stirring combination of enormous chords and chromatic pedal solos which make up the Introduction, and which return again at the end of the Passacaille. The theme, taken from Daveluy’s Quatrieme Sonate pour argue, is presented at the opening of the Passacaille, and leads into the twenty-one variations of the Passacaille which show off all the powers of the organ. Both Laurin and Demers emphasise the Regeresque qualities of this work in their programme notes. The Douzes courtes pieces, which are charming miniatures, were composed to be played in smaller moments in services or recitals. From the evocative meditative feel of the Invocation, played on the flutes, to the boisterous jollity of the Rondo, each of these twelve pieces is approachable by players and audiences alike, and will serve well as voluntaries or as short concert pieces; only two of these short pieces exceed three minutes in length each, and four of them are fugues. The Etude Heroique which closes this CD, composed in 2004, is perhaps the most often-performed of these works. Again, planned as a programme to balance the opening work of the CD, the massive chords of the opening are followed by an extensive pedal solo, while the melodic mid-section leads into an exciting episodic development. Demers’ brilliant and fluent performance effectively displays the layering effects of the registration, and the full organ which closes the piece demonstrates its heroic ending. The CD cover and booklet contain many photographs of the interior and exterior of the church and of the organ of L’Eglise des Saints-Anges, which happily was Demers’s first practise organ and still remains her favourite practise organ when she is in Montreal. Having studied at the Montreal Conservatoire, she studied in Paris for a year before completing her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Juilliard School in New York. She is about to release a recording of Max Reger’s Seven Chorale Fantasies, on a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation. The informative programme notes to this Acis CD are written by both Rachel Laurin and Isabelle Demers and are fully bilingual, except for the one page describing the Casavant organ which is printed only in French; the full specifications of the organ are listed. I highly recommend this recording, which displays not only a virtuosic organist in Isabelle Demers, but a highly-contrasting selection of organ works by the always exciting composer Rachel Laurin.”
FRANCES MACDONNELL, Organ Canada, January 2012

“This recording…effectively demonstrates that her organ works deserve a place of prominence in the modern repertoire. Laurin’s music is thoroughly grounded in tonality and consistently bears the stamp of her unique musical expression…a compelling listening experience”
JIM HILDRETH, The American Organist, February 2012