The centrepiece is a magnificent three-part documentary showing how Widor came to write his organ symphonies, how his compositional style developed and matured, and how these works fit into his overall career as a performer, teacher and writer. Presented by Gerard Brooks and featuring interviews with Widor scholars Daniel Roth, John Near and Anne-Isabelle de Parcevaux, this film also sets Widor’s organ music in the context of his work as a mainstream composer of operas, ballets, chamber music and orchestral symphonies.
Widor’s life was intertwined with that of the great French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Therefore Widor’s greatest organ works are recorded in mesmerising surround-sound on the three best surviving Cavaillé-Coll instruments, Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where Widor himself was organist for almost sixty years, Orléans Cathedral and Saint-Ouen in Rouen. Widor’s fifth and sixth symphonies are included in their entirety on both CD and DVD, performed by Gerard Brooks. Daniel Roth, the current organist at Saint-Sulpice, performs a range of movements from the other symphonies.