A selection of press cuttings
Germain Desbonnet from a live performance of the opening of "The 5th Seal " from the Symphony " The apocalypse according to St John ". Duration 1 min 50.
For those who have not already hat the opportunity of hearing a performance by Germain Desbonnet, this selection from 40 years of presse reviews, provides some description to help sum up his personality. :
Notice of a concert composed by Jean Langlais and published by " Le Courrier Picard " :
" " On Monday 17 June 1968 at 9pm in the Cathedral at Amiens, Germain Desbonnet
can be appreciated once again with a diverse programme of organ music.
My intention is not to bring this organist to the attention of those who have already come to admire him. I would simply like to present this young artist of whom, I have the pleasure of being his latest professor, and who is one of the most remarkable of his time.
Endowed with a brillant technique and a faultless style, graced with naturel talent, and with the excellent guidance that he has already received before being entrusted to me, Germain Desbonnet can be likened to a musical apostle. It is for this reason that he has included in his programme, my First Symphony, a piece which counts amongst the most difficult within contemporary works for the organ.
This piece was written at the time of the German occupation of France. Until now, to the best of my knowledge, only 2 complete performances have been given in France, one by Rolande Falcinelli at the Palais de Chaillot, the other by myself on the same instrument. It has been said that anyone who can match themselves against such a difficult piece, will cope easily with any other piece for the organ. Germain Desbonnet deserves to fill the Cathedral and I predict that he will have a career that lives up to his brillant talent. "
..."He illuminates everything that he touches, Buxtehude or de Grigny,
Bach or Mendelsshon and lastly Langlais, to the point where he gives the notion
of perfection which cannot be surpassed. "
..." On hearing his performance, it was easy to see how he has carried off the First Great Prize for virtuosity from the Schola Cantorum. His ease of expression, precision and the assurance that he gave to it was cast-iron proof that he is definitely one of the finest organists of our time. His judicious choice of tone, and finesse of phrasing come together to give his interpretation a finished character that is rarely seen. "
..."Germain Desbonnet is an organist of exceptional calibre. "
Cathedrale of Lund (Suède)
..." The debut at Mannheim of the parisian organist Germain Desbonnet has made
an extraordinary impression... He draws upon more than just a brilliant virtuosity,
an eminent musical sense and an assuredly spontaneous style. "
..." Almost at once we realised that it was a master of the organ who
was playing last night at Roskilde. Right from the start of the concert,
Germain Desbonnet showed his supreme mastery of the organ. "
..." Germain Desbonnet reaffirmed his reputation as a virtuoso of the organ by his deep understanding of the diversity within French music expressed through his great musical talent. "
..." Germain Desbonnet has show himself to be an inspired performer...
the whole evening was dominated by the sheer delight imparted by his playing
and the powerful artistic expression of his great artistic personality.
Desbonnet is possessed of the ability to perform the most difficult pieces
to have been written for the organ, with remarkable exactitude. "
Notre dame de Paris
..." A spectacular event in organ music " of French music dating back through three centuries, Germain Desbonnet has created a remarkable musical event. "
.." It has already been shown from his previous concerts, that Germain
Desbonnet is a remarkable virtuoso! On Sunday he lived up to his reputation once
again. An elegance stirred with charm, delicacy and taste. "
..."Germain Desbonnet is the evidence of a truly astounding art. He gave a dazzling performance, richly dynamic and with a livel y tempo. We heard a LISZT at the organ. "
..."21 Toccatas in a single recital ! One has to admire such a force of nature...
We stand up to applaud him... "
..." " With perfect fingering technique, the Master Desbonnet is part of a class of musicians who can move audiences and give them a glimpse of the beyond. "
..." Germain Desbonnet opened the proceedings with a program of french
pieces, his interpretation of which revealed him to be an eminent organist on two
counts, as he is not only gifted with a technique equal to of the organ, but he has
taken the trouble to put together a magnificent palette of foreign pieces. "
(St Mary of L├╝beck, Germany, November 1978)
..."STANDING OVATION FOR DESBONNET ". The public was not mistaken when it rose to it's feet to applaud the artist at great length. This spontaneous reaction allowed us to hear an extra five Toccatas from Pachelbel, a dazzling finale, where Germain Desbonnet once again let loose his talent. "
... " " Beneath his fingers, the piano takes on a richness of tone which is
stupefing. Moreover, the artist has shown that he has an extraordinary virtuosity
that he applies, nevertheless with great sensitivity. "
(Hesdin (Somme) France, 1966)
... " Germain Desbonnet has shown his virtuosity of the
" single keyboard " just as he has with the organ. Composer and pianist,
he appears as a person of " great inspiration ", in possession of a fabulous technical
... " Through the performance of several of her husband's songs,
Madam Yvonne Desbonnet has provided us with proof that as a composer Mr Desbonnet
has been well endowed with talent. "
(Cathedral of Roskilde, Denmark, August 1972)
... " The composer has shown by his 2 Toccatas that he has a rich imagination and is capable of some mouthwatering discoveries. "
... " A " Lord's Prayer " from Germain Desbonnet only more elegant.
This short piece is moving, very individual, harmonious, and it can be easily listened
to again and again "
(Cathedral of Ulm, Germany)
29 August 1971
... " We can all hope that when he gives us a taste of a composition such as ( Suite for song, clarinet, and organ) Germain Desbonnet gives testimony to the art of composition, to the science of writing and to an inspiration which equals his playing of the organ. "
... " In " Les B├ęatitudes " (Bliss) by Germain Desbonnet, one
must admire the lyricism and individual writing which has been so thoughtfully
conceived, and yet remains believably spontaneous. He also played one of his
" Visions " in which the composition compliments the organ playing,
and vice- versa, we were all left guessing how he could humanly conceive of such
a passage. "
... " " His excellent technique, just like his artistic ability, impressed us. We were treated to a performance of " first hand ". The climax came at the end of the concert with " The three visions of the passion of Christ " by Germain Desbonnet. This eminent piece was full of emotion and thanks to it's composer was an unforgettable performance. "
... " Germain Desbonnet is a man well-known within European organ circles,
above all for his hallmark image, his very individual works, his celebrated qualities
of improvisation and creative initiatives in his chosen field. The advantage that
Desbonnet has gained, is that above all else, he has not grown stale with time like
so many contemporary composers, but works on with great passion. "
... " He appears to be fully in control of his medium. A faultless technique along with a truly beautiful sonority and priceless virtuosity which lacks nothing in expression, undoubtably gives a fullness and a deeply stirring quality to his compositions, due to his marvellous sense of arrangement. " The three visions of the passion " by Germain Desbonnet is evidence of his profound inspiration with a poignant sadness, and mysticism which is a credit to it's author. "
... " The music of Germain Desbonnet follows very naturally in the
tradition of his predecessors, but his " Garden of the Olive trees " was most
original an captivating. A series of arpeggios fan out to create a fascinating
phenomenon which thrilled the entire hall. " Les B├ęatitudes " (Bliss), beautiful,
although musically relatively modern was brought to life by the voice of Elisa Desbonnet. "
(Odense, Denmark, August 1980)
... " After Denmark, where it was first heard, after Caen and Reims, Antibes discovered a great MASTER at work : " The apocalypse according to St John " a vast fresco in 5 acts, the fifth, and without doubt the most moving, " Vision " written by Germain Desbonnet, followed on from " Genesis ", " Garden of the Olive trees ", " Golgotha " and " Resurrection ". This score of nearly an how long had an evocative power and a richness of writing that was most evident, and hauntingly beautiful. From the signature motif of four notes, the well-structured first act, the incredible effects of the second, the atmosphere of mystery which engulfed the end of the third, the grandure and breath-taking effects of the fourth, the radiant beauty of the last... Justice cannot be done to all the hundreds of other details which deserve to be mentioned. "
... " " Certainly the organist Germain Desbonnet overwhelmed us with his
composition " Golgotha ". The introduction was a prelude of sombre, sonorous colours
which vividly suggest a slow and imposing progression. This solemn piece touches upon
our deepest concerns... It unfolds as the work of a true musician, made with no
concessions, and we were struck by his powers of suggestion so dramatically
The up coming concerts of this musician are not to be missed, as he is inspired so much by faith, fervour and grace. "
... " Germain Desbonnet has displayed his talent in the five movements of this great work, developing the evocative harmonies which merge into the superb finale " The great invocation " from where this inspired and mystic symphony draws it's breath. "
" The piece " Fêtes bretonnes " (Breton Festival) written by Germain
Desbonnet, which comprises of, amongst others " Prière à Sainte Anne "
(Prayer to St.Anne), is deeply moving. The audience had the privilege of hearing the
organ of the Basilica, revived by the gifted fingers of Germain Desbonnet. "
" The concert effectively introduced on one hand, the successful marriage between organ and bombarde, and on the other, the musically rich work specially composed for the two instruments.
" Germain Desbonnet has brought his " special touch " to the
composition by incorporating the bombarde, and finally giving it some truly beautiful
pieces, with such evocative titles as " Danse villageoise " (Village dance) ,
" Prière à Sainte Anne " (A prayer to St.Anne) and " Noce
au village " (Village wedding). "
... " This is the bombarde at its best, with all the elegance of the oboe, yet it possesses many other fine qualities, not the least being a highly distinctive timbre, and it's ability to deliver a music that is beautifully dissonant, like the superb Etude n┬░ 2 (Study n┬░ 2) that Germain Desbonnet has written specially for it. Grégory Le Lan by his accomplished virtuosity gave an astonishing and magnificent performance of this piece, which explores new avenues for this type of instrument. "
... " After a triumphantly stirring Concerto, which bathed the listener in a
world of intense sound, 5 short pieces followed, which were joyous and lively with a
feel of the middle-ages (Fêtes M├ędiévales) (Medieval Festival), then two
Toccatas for the organ alone, and best of all the beautiful "Bataille du Roi Morvan " (The battle of King Morvan), a fresco in 3 scenes...
The centre-piece of the work was the superb " Chant de déploration " (Song of lament) for the death of Morvan, where the bombarde poignantly expresses the pain of the Bretons.
Wishing the greatest of success to this work inspired by the History of Brittany, which unites the science of the most elaborate modern music to the indefinable feel of the traditional music of Brittany, which the two performers carry out admirably.
The " Renouveau bombarde & orgue " has not been in vain."
... " The high-point of the evening was magnificently performed by the two musicians " La bataille du Roi Morvan ", a fresco in three scenes, composed by Germain Desbonnet as a hommage to his adopted region and to a character forgotten by the history of France. "
... " The international concert performer Germain Desbonnet has revealed that he
is not only a master of the organ but also an inexhaustable composer...
Through the extracts of his compositions " Fêtes bretonnes " and " Suite sur des airs populaires de Bretagne ", Germain Desbonnet has revisited traditional songs and given them a new lease of life, enriching them with colours and harmonies full of vitality.
"HOMMAGE A SAINT PATRICK" "Prodigieux virtuose de la bombarde, Grégory Le Lan est l'interpr&eagrave;te r├¬vé pour les savantes et tr&eagrave;s inspirées compositions de l'organiste Germain Desbonnet. Celui-ci puise avec appétit dans le patrimoine populaire, ├á l'instar des illustres Brahms, Chopin et bien d'autres. Dans cette musique aux résonances ├á la fois traditionnelles et futuristes, l'orgue soul&eagrave;ve naturellement une profonde émotion par la puissance de ses variations et la subtilité de son phrasé. La bombarde, elle, transcende littéralement son identité traditionnelle pour s'élever au rang des grands instruments classiques, illuminant cette oeuvre musicale envo├╗tante par sa perfection éblouissante.
"Inauguration d'un chef-d'oeuvre de l'art sacré contemporain" ..."Le lavement des pieds" toile monumentale
du peintre Yannig Guillevic, en l'église de Saint Tugdual (Morbihan)......."En osmose totale avec le moment et le lieu,
les 7 méditations musicales de Germain Desbonnet ont apporté un surcro├«t d'émotion"
La musique du coeur "Du beau, il y en a eu aussi pour les oreilles, le coeur et l'esprit, avec les 7 "Chakras"
composant la fresque sonore "L'ange au luth". De magnifiques méditations ponctuant le cours de la cérémonie,
interprétées en direct au piano par leur compositeur, Germain Desbonnet. Il a été longuement applaudi par