The Organ


CD Reviews for Issue 371 (February 2015) of The Organ


René Louis Becker: Organ Music Vol 2

Damin Spritzer, the Cavaillé-Coll Organ, Cathédral Saint-Croiz, Orléans Including Sonata No 1 Opus 40;
Toccata Opus 32; Postlude in D minor Opus 75a.

***** Raven OAR 949 [c.73']

The Alsatian-American composer René Louis Becker (1882-1956) is a particularly interesting if relatively quite unknown figure, and it is due largely to the work of Damin Spritzer that we hear any of his music outside of the most specialist of organists. One has to say that this on the strength of this second set of recordings of his music, it manifestly does not deserve the unaccountable neglect into which it appears to have fallen.

All of the music on this CD was composed between 1908 and 1923 – not a long period in which to go from opus 16 to opus 76a, those 60 works (and more) averaging at around four a year in the 15-year period. Becker (whose name and music were largely unknown to me before I was sent this CD), would seem therefore to be a composer well worth the time and investigation that have been devoted to it by Damin Spritzer. Becker is unafraid of the big gesture, neither would he appear to have been fazed by the quality of more established organist- composers who were well-known internationally at that time – unaffected directly by the War then being raged across France and Belgium.

What shines through this music is Becker's command of his instrument and of his chosen idiom, and the generally positive out look of this composer is one of his most attractive features, without ever lapsing into superficiality. I was very taken by this recording, and I hope it plays an important role in the rehabilitation of this notable composer.

James Palmer