Olivier Latry: My thoughts while Notre Dame was burning

The organist of Notre Dame has given his first interview, to Hannah Abena Schmidt, for VAN magazine:

VAN : WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT THE FIRE IN NOTRE-DAME?

Olivier Latry : In Vienna with my wife. I just arrived at the hotel, a friend’s text message came: ‘Notre-Dame is burning’.

AND HE HEARD IT ON THE NEWS?

No, he lives in Paris and can see Notre-Dame from his apartment. He sent a photo with a small fire on it, and five to ten minutes later, more where the fire was much bigger. I thought the whole cathedral was on fire, and of course the organ – so terrible. That was apocalyptic.

YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON TOUR IN AUSTRIA. WHEN WILL YOU SEE THE ORGAN?

Actually, we’re meant to stay in Vienna until the end of next week, but my wife and I decided to fly to Paris for a few hours on Sunday. We just have to see the church, even if we are not allowed to go in, which is still forbidden at the moment. It feels like a nightmare we have not yet woken up from. Slowly, hour by hour, I understand the reality more and more. This is very hard.

AS A TITULAR ORGANIST, IN AND OUT OF CHURCH FOR 34 YEARS, YOU MUST HAVE A KEY?

Yes I have. Although I don’t go to Paris very often, I spend about 280 nights a year in hotels, but when I’m in Paris, I spend most of my time in Notre-Dame and practice. I try to practice every day that I’m in Paris, and then the cathedral must be free – so I rehearse in the evening and at night.

Read on here.

 

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  • Norbert says:

    The organ music (Messiaen) used to such great effect in the excellent oscar winning (?) film “The Favourite” was Latry from Notre Dame

  • Sixtus says:

    Don’t miss the video, recorded in Notre Dame, embedded in the original article. In addition to showing the cathedral’s (and the organ’s) interior from unusual angles — drones were used for the former — as organ-recording promotional videos go, it is extremely well done.

    https://youtu.be/e2uuE5ZQN6A

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I was thinking of Latry (and his colleagues) from the first moment I saw those images of the cathedral burning. I also knew he was in Vienna as I was hoping to be at his recital in the Musikverein on 25th. Alas, not possible.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I have a recording I really like with with Harmut Haenchen from the Concertgebouw (ICA Classics), precisely because Haenchen doesn’t permit Mahler 8 to turn into a shout festival. You don’t get the sense of people trying to out-sing each other. It’s more in the vain of Horenstein or Wyn Morris, and less in the manner of Solti or Bernstein (I do like Bernstein’s recordings of it, though). I also like it that at the every end of Part II, Haenchen removes the cymbals so that you can clearly hear the big Wuhan chau gong (tam-tam) instead. He has great offstage brass as well.

    I also very much like Jonathan’s Nott recording from Bamberg (Tudor), which is extremely well recorded and well balanced. Markus Stenz has the best ending to Part II of anybody, but the rest of it is a bit on the ‘run through’ side, i.e. fast. And in spite of its general slow tempi, I do like the Maazel/Vienna Phil. one, which has a good cast and a great tenor in Richard Leech.

    Loud moments in Part I may be a bit tough to take – especially if it’s over sung – but Part I serves as a thematic nursery for all of Part II. Mahler 8/II is, in my opinion, among the greatest ‘through composed’ bits of music ever written – one idea just flows into the next. The “blicket auf’ passage is just amazing, if – once again – it’s not over sung.

  • Christophe Huss says:

    Olivier Latry called a few persons & journalists on that bus trip from Vienna to Dresden on tuesday afternoon european time including myself for the newspaper Le Devoir in Montréal was among them for an interview about the status of the organ at that time (there were so many contradictory rumors around).
    The feature was online on tuesday April 16th.
    https://www.ledevoir.com/culture/musique/552290/de-l-espoir-pour-l-orgue-de-notre-dame
    and I suppose Olivier Latry did the same with Le Monde or AFP. But it would never occured to me to claim I or anyone was “the first” or to play any “speed race game” in the context such a tragic event. It is improper and indecent.

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