Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Martin SETCHELL: Let the Pealing Organ Blow
J. S. BACH (1685-1750): Air (Suite No. 3); Badinerie (Suite No. 2); Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in c BWV 564
Jeremiah CLARKE (1673-1707): Trumpet Voluntary
Antonin DVORAK (1841-1904): Largo (Symphony No. 9)
César FRANCK (1822-1890): Choral No. 3 in a minor
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864): Coronation March
Scott JOPLIN (1868-1917): The Entertainer
Alfréd LEFEBURE-WÉLY (1817-1870): Piece
Stanley MYERS (1930-93): The Deer Hunter: Cavatina
Gordon Balch NEVIN (1892-1943): Will o' the Wisp
Peter TCHAIKOWSKY (1840-1893): Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937): Symphony No. 5: Toccata in F

Martin Setchell (organ)
rec. Rieger Pipe Organ, Christchurch Town Hall, Kilmore Street, New Zealand 21-22.9.97
MANU 1539 [74:11]

Listed Comparisons
Widor: Toccata Simon Lindley, Leeds Parish Church, 1991. Naxos 8.550581
Franck: Chorale No. 3 a minor Eric Lebrun, Cavaillé-Coll Organ, Saint-Antoine des Quinze-Vingts, Paris, November 1997

The Carlo Curley of Christchurch? Almost. Blackpool-born Martin Setchell studied Modern Languages at Exeter, then organ with Reginald Dixon, Peter Hurford, Pierre Cochereau, and Marie-Claire Alain. He won many prizes. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1974 with his appointment to the University of Canterbury School of Music, where he is now senior lecturer. He records regularly for the New Zealand Concert FM programme. Thus far impeccable credentials. Perhaps this CD is a spin-off from his concert FM broadcasts.

He plays a popular programme beautifully, and the Rieger organ, recorded close, makes an impressive, clean, but warm sound. The Widor is marginally less fast but registered more immediately than the acclaimed Lindley performance in Leeds Parish Church which is more distant. This is a full-blooded reading that allows, in its close registration, a wonderfully sotto voce effect from the pipes to drift just above audibility. The Bach items are by a pupil of Peter Hurford. The organ doesn't allow a period-aware performance of the silvery effect we sometimes hear on many baroque organs, but this intelligently selected Bach. The arrangements as for all the works here, are by the organist. Setchell has deftness and feeling, and plays with values that some might see as old-fashioned. Even so performance conventions have softened, and his Bach interpretations don't sit uncomfortably beside that of his master on Decca.

The individual bob-bons all come off very well indeed. The Tchaikowsky, Myers, Nevin (a real 1930s gem, brightly figured), Joplin, and Lefebure-Wély all find Setchell able to colour his interpretations with a nimble intimacy. The final piece here happily recalls the wurlitzer sound Lefebure-Wély gave rise to, almost. The Meyerbeer is rather impressive and rare, and I'm glad to have heard this slight afflatus of solemnity, which happens to be good. The Dvorak, despite recalling a funeral parlour on occasion, is in fact beautifully brought off, even to the sudden break before resolution in the repeat of the second subject. It's no mean feat to sustain this level of sound or indeed sentiment. Setchell makes the work sound born to the organ. The whiff of the parlour isn't his fault.

The Franck is, of course, the most-often played piece here. Setchell plays rapidly enough to come close to the recent Eric Lebrun on his marvellous Cavaillé-Coll. I possess a stray Jennifer Bate Unicorn Kanchana which takes the Choral No. 2 over two minutes slower than Lebrun, who in turn takes the Choral No. 3 45 seconds swifter than Setchell, 12'08" against 12'53". That should give some indication of Setchell's speeds, a little behind Lindley and Lebrun, but faster than others. His interpretation is fine, perhaps less monumentally-scaled than Lebrun was able to make his, but a real performance.

None of Setchell's performances of core repertoire would look out of place in any collection, and his bon-bons are amusing and sometimes touching. What Setchell has done is provide some rarities in a competitive market, and these, if they suit, should be snapped up, most easily by visiting the site. But despite this essentially home market CD, one longs to hear Setchell spread his scope as well as his arms. Competition for popular organ music is fierce, and this programme is more intelligent than some, with its avowedly middlebrow appeal. But Setchell can do very interesting things, and there is a real gap that would bring him wider recognition and circulation than the false psychology of quick returns. Widor still lacks a very recent cycle bar Van Oosten, and, if Vierne is quite well-covered, Guilmant and possibly more to his taste, Widor isn't by any means. Large-scale works like Whitlock's Symphony and other modern British and no doubt New Zealand composers remain unrecorded. Setchell is an academic who enjoys popular recitals. The popular and tuneful Widor and others remain to be spread abroad. This is a good start. Setchell needs to consolidate with large-scale, tuneful works.

Simon Jenner


"Let the Pealing Organ Blow!" MANU 1539 was released in 1997, and "Bonbons for Organ" ATOLL ACD 600 was released in December 2000.

How to buy:

In the UK:

Allegro music for online credit card orders
or write
Allegro Music
82 Suffolk St
B1 1TA,

In the USA:

Brenda Durden Publishing ( online credit card orders
Or write Brenda Durden Publishing
The Frantic Organist Music Shop
6902 57th St. NE
Marysville, WA 98270
360-658-8317 (FAX and VOICE)
toll free for US, Canada and UK 888-258-5781 (FAX and VOICE)

In New Zealand: for online credit card orders (Wellington).
Marbecks for credit card orders (Auckland) or write
Marbecks Queen Street
164 Queen Street
Auckland, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 358 0344
Fax: +64 9 358 4740

Further details from the website :- or email

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: