This is billed as Volume 1 of The Complete Organ Works
of Basil Harwood. Three volumes are to follow. Harwood (1859-1949),
organist successively at Ely Cathedral and at Christ Church Oxford,
was a distinguished musician. His 1st Sonata can still be
encountered in recitals. It is tempting to compare it with Elgar’s (as
I did when I first heard it many years ago), but Harwood’s predates
Elgar’s by almost a decade. It is more chromatic and, like so much Harwood,
is based on a hymn tune. He wrote many hymns himself.
Dithyramb and two of the Opus 15 Pieces (which
are varied in length and mood) were originally intended to form another
Sonata. This would have been an impressive one, but the movements were
published separately. A "real" 2nd Sonata came
later and will appear in a subsequent volume. The turbulent Capriccio,
which makes much use of arpeggios, is more secular in feel, though a
hymn tune comes in at the end even here.
Adrian Partington’s advocacy for Harwood, on the organ
of Bristol Cathedral, whose specification is reproduced in the informative
booklet, is excellent. This well recorded disc has given me much pleasure
and I strongly recommend it.
Philip L Scowcroft