Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

JENNIFER BATE plays British organ music PERCY WHITLOCK Organ Music  Jennifer Bate (organ)   ASV QUICKSILVA CD QS 6233

Save around 22% with
the retailers listed alongside



Paul Whiteman, Whithorne, Whittaker, reads my concise Grove, but not a trace of Percy Whitlock (1903-1946). It's certainly not a name I would mention to non-organist friends (the majority!): it isn't that they would be critical; simply no glint of recognition. Yet these same music-lovers could well respond positively to such a piece as Fidelis from the Four Extemporisations played as a Voluntary before Cathedral Evensong.

Perhaps the moral is that we organists who love to listen to, and play, Whitlock's music should campaign on his behalf - and yes, there is a Percy Whitlock Trust.

If musical advocacy be required then look no further than this present CD, which contains The Plymouth Suite (played at St. Andrew's Parish Church, Plymouth), together with the Five Short Pieces, Four Extemporisations and Seven Sketches, performed at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.

Jennifer Bate presents the 21 tracks involved with the utmost charm and sympathy, painting in the colours of each exquisite miniature with a rainbow of registrations, and glorying in the robust trumpetings of Paean and Fanfare. There is a taking nimbleness in the notoriously tricky Scherzo and Chanty; flying fingers for Divertimento, and the virtuosic Toccata - quite the equal of many of more celebrated French examples of the genre.

So if you are an adventurous music-lover try this CD. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Organists will assuredly love it, and (dare I say, speaking personally?) perhaps learn from it as well.


Andrew Seivewright

and a review of the same disc by Rob Barnett:-

Although in the same series (and bargain price bracket) as the other two ASV QUICKSILVAs this is the only one of the triptych to be dedicated to the works of one composer. Whitlock has come in for quite a bit of attention over the last decade or two. His 1937 symphony for organ and orchestra was revived by Graham Barber and the BBC Welsh SO at St Asaph Cathedral and this, in turn, seems to have lead to at least two other concert revivals the latest of which was this summer (1999) at York Minster. The same artists recorded the piece at the Minster and this is due to be issued on CD by AMPHION RECORDINGS during 2000.

There have been several small label recitals dedicated to Whitlock's organ works. Sadly his orchestral works have been neglected. There were a number of suites and overtures - possibly light in character (he was for many years a sort of 'composer in residence' at Dan Godfrey's Bournemouth).

Whitlock is also much associated with Devon's 'other capital' (Exeter claims pride of place), Plymouth. Plymouth's St Andrews Parish Church (next to the Guildhall, off Royal Parade) was the venue during the early 1980s for a collaboration between Bob Auger and Ms Bate in which she played the Plymouth Suite (1937) - contemporaneous with the symphony though lighter in tone. The suite is in five movements: a casual allegro risoluto, a recessed and suitably distant Lantana (so very self-effacing), a jolly shanty called Carillon, Salix - an exercise in English reserve though in touch with the British pastoralists (principally Finzi) and a final and flighty Toccata in the spirit of Icarus.

The other three sets of pieces were recorded more recently and not in Plymouth. The Five Short Pieces (1929) include a jaunty Allegretto, a Holstian (Walking Song or Marching Song) Folk Tune, a Finzian Andante Tranquillo, a Christmassy Scherzo (perhaps Malcolm Arnold had some of the sound-character of this piece in mind when he wrote his own, and sweetest, of Organ Concertos) and a Paean complete with blasting tuba tune.

The Four Extemporisations (1933) start with a Carol (complete with hints of Danny Boy) which achieves both dazzle and subtlety, a Divertimento of Elgarian moth-wing texture, an understated Fidelis and a brightly-lit Fanfare.

The Seven Sketches on Verses of the Psalms include another Finzian piece (Postlude), a Dvorakian Duetto, a fragile and etiolated Plaint, a chipper Exultemus, an Elgarian Preambule, a low key Intermezzo and a concluding Sortie which suggests the brilliance of the new-born light.

Excellent notes by Malcolm Riley of the Whitlock Society (note his Thames biography).

The present album is dedicated to the memory of sound-recordist Bob Auger with whom Jennifer Bate has worked.

An attractively priced (bargain range) issue with some of the most attractive music of the three recitals. We need to hear more Whitlock.


Rob Barnett


Andrew Seivewright

Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index