The disc features two late Romantic organist/composers
having Yorkshire associations. Hollins was born in Hull and Lemare was
for some years Organist of Sheffield Cathedral. However both became
touring recitalists and Lemare eventually settled in the United States,
so it is appropriate that this recording is made on the 1930 Skinner
organ at St Peter’s Morristown, New Jersey (the booklet summarises its
history but does not print its specification).
The main work here is Lemare’s First Organ Symphony,
some 35 minutes long. The booklet notes various influences, among them
Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Guilmant, though the breadth of the Symphony’s
outer movements (the finale is a well worked fugue) suggests Elgar to
this reviewer. Indeed it dates from the same year as the Enigma Variations.
The Adagio is memorably tuneful and the Scherzo energetic without being
especially individual. Lemare’s brief The Cuckoo has charm and
his transcription of The Hebrides takes us back to the days when
organists frequently played arrangements from the orchestral repertoire
to make up for the comparative lack of orchestral concerts. The principal
influence on Hollins’ overture is indeed Mendelssohn and his gift for
shapely melody is strikingly displayed in this early piece.
Mr Fisher, one of our finest organists (he is an excellent
pianist, too) once again shows his aptitude for, and love of, the romantic
organ repertoire and this (American) CD is warmly recommended with only
the caveat that the recording’s wide dynamic range necessitates
one or two adjustments to the volume control.