Festival music review: Naji Hakim - Messiaen 100

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ST GILES' CATHEDRAL Five Stars

ON Saturday, Naji Hakim gave the first of two organ recitals celebrating Messiaen's centenary year. The setting was perfect – thanks to the magnificent Reiger organ which oozes warmth and colour in direct proportion to the austere Presbyterian frugality of a poorly-lit St Giles Cathedral.

But close your eyes and this could so easily have been the succulent Vatican-charged cream-puffery of Paris's La Trinit, where Hakim succeeded Messiaen as organist.

The dynastic influence is palpable. Hakim opened with the Messe de la Pentecte, a liturgical sequence that began life as improvisations and which, in this performance, conveyed the spontaneity of their origins. And what colours Hakim conjured up – the subterranean pedal rumblings physically shaking the pews, the sweet-scented mutation stops floating through the air like penitential wails.

An out-of-tune trumpet stop transformed a characteristic Messiaen motif into a conti-nental car horn, but that was just one mishap in an otherwise absorbing performance.

Naji Hakim's second recital is tonight at 10:30pm

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