For his first CD with La Dolce Volta, Olivier Latry has chosen a programme devoted to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This recording, made on the massive Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris, of which he is titular organist since 33 years, raises a number of fascinating questions because for him, “we must learn from the past in order to project ourselves into the future”.
My approach highlights several paradoxes: the notion of performing these key works of Protestantism in one of the most emblematic centres of Catholicism, first of all, but also of playing them on an instrument that is, to say the least, far removed from the Baroque and Classical style of organ building. It’s quite true, all of this raises questions. However, the most important question remains, in my opinion, that of authenticity in music. I must confess that this concept often seems to me to be a decoy . . . Playing Bach in this context therefore implies finding a new balance in order to preserve the spirit and letter of music. One cannot be divorced from the other.
Every performer plays with the instruments of his or her time, and the instrument I have here at Notre-Dame is an outstanding one. One cannot and must not fight against the past, but on the contrary assimilate it, the better to derive inspiration from it and then find one’s personal path. We shouldn’t really be talking about authenticity at all, but, more soberly, about sincerity.