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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


HOFFNUNG for CHRISTMAS? an ideal Christmas present for yourself or your friends.
Books posted the day the order is received



THURSTON DART PLAYS ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC

1. William BYRD (1543-1623): A Fancy; A Voluntarie
1. John BULL (1562-1628): Salvator Mundi Deus; Fantasia
1. Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625): In Nomine; Fantasia
2. Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656): Fancy
2. John BLOW (1649-1708): Verset in D minor; Prelude in A Re
3. Matthew LOCKE (c1622-1677): For a Double Organ
3. Henry PURCELL (1659-1695): Voluntary on the Old Hundredth Psalm Tune; Verset
3. Maurice GREENE (c1695-1755): Voluntary No 2
3. George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759): Fugue in F; Entrée; Menuet; Gavotte; Air
Lentement; Concerto (Allegro)
4. James NARES (1715-1783): Introduction and Fugue
4. William BOYCE (1710-1779): Voluntary No 7
4. John STANLEY (1713-1786): Voluntary Op. 7, No 9
Thurston Dart (Organ)
Recording dates & venues: 1. St. Lawrence, Appleby, 21 June 1957; 2. Holy Trinity Chapel, Staunton Harold, Leicestershire; 20 June 1957; 3. St John, Wolverhampton, 18 October 1957; 4. All Saints, Rotherham, 19 October 1957
Recordings reissued by J Martin Stafford.
Obtainable from 298, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, B91 1TH

JMSCD 1 [64.18]

Thurston Dart (1921-1971) was one of the liveliest characters on the post-war English music scene. As an academic and performer he influenced and stimulated much of the work done in that period in the field of baroque and pre-classical music. He collaborated with a great number of artists who went on to enjoy highly successful careers in the years after his untimely death and so his influence can truly be said to have endured long after him.

Even today many recordings are still available on which he appears as the player of the keyboard continuo. However, his representation in the catalogue as a solo artist is pretty scant so his admirers will wish to have this issue, as will those collectors to whom the repertoire appeals.

The recordings were originally issued by EMI and were supervised by a distinguished team: Peter Andry (producer) and Neville Boyling (engineer). Long deleted in LP form, they have now been made available in CD format through the enterprise of J. Martin Stafford, an aficionado who has proved both willing and able to do something to share his enthusiasm for Dart with others.

The well-produced booklet includes an appreciation of the artist by Stafford himself. There are also notes on all the four organs used, accompanied by specifications of each instrument and photographs of all of them. My only complaint is the lack of notes about the music itself (just who was James Nares?)

It would be impertinent to describe the performances when there is such an accurate and succinct comment on them by Stafford. Dartís playing, he writes, "has a rhythmic zest about it (largely due to properly articulated phrasing) that makes even the less interesting pieces enjoyable to listen to." Quite so. As Stafford implies, there are few, if any, musical masterpieces in this collection and I certainly wouldnít recommend listening to the disc straight through. However, Dartís playing is consistently lively and interesting.

Inevitably, the modest size and resources of the respective organs limits the variety of tonal colour at Dartís disposal. It is the contrasting sound of the various instruments themselves which is fascinating: even in Dartís expert hands, the recital would have been much less interesting had he restricted himself to one organ only. As it is the four organs featured here are roughly contemporaneous with the music which Dart plays on them. There is a particularly intimate quality to the Staunton Harold instrument and the music which Dart chose to perform on it seems entirely apposite; but then throughout the whole programme the music and instruments complement each other very well indeed.

The recordings themselves, though over forty years old, still sound well. This issue will probably be mainly of specialist appeal but it is an excellent tribute to a fine musician and J Martin Stafford is to be congratulated warmly on making these recordings available to a new audience.

John Quinn


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