> Sir Henry Walford Davies [PS]: Classical CD Reviews- June2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Solemn Melody (2); Jesu Dulcis Memoria; Interlude in C; Fugue in Bb; Memorial Melody in C; Reverie for organ and two voices; Choral for organ.
JONGEN: Prelude Elégiaque
Harold DARKE: Choral–Fantasia on Darwall’s 148th
G THALBEN-BALL: Elegy in Bb (2)
C.H.H. PARRY: Choral – Fantasia on the old 100th
Roger Fisher (organ)
Andrew Fuller (cello)
Simon Stiggear (treble)
Michael Wakeham (baritone)
Rec 2000
DUTTON EPOCH CD LX 1708 [67.00?]


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Walford Davies, organist at the Temple Church, Professor of Music at Aberystwyth and Master of the King’s Musick is comparatively little regarded these days. His memory is kept alive, in this writer’s mind at least, by four memorable tunes. These are the RAF March Past (first section only), the brief anthem God Be In My Head, a setting of O Little Town Of Bethlehem which is far better than the usual one to be heard and Solemn Melody, usually now heard on great patriotic occasions. The latter is indeed here, twice, in versions for organ solo and, arranged by Roger Fisher, cello, splendidly played by Andrew Fuller. Otherwise the disk extends our knowledge of the composer.

Mr Fisher is one of our finest organists and has a deep sympathy with romantic organ (and piano) repertoire. Here he puts an excellent case for Davies’ music on the Rothwell organ of St George’s, Headstone, an instrument known to Walford Davies, who, curiously published nothing for organ in his lifetime, apart from Jesu Dulcis for a volume in memory of Parry. However the arrangement and unpublished items here are well worth our notice. The Interlude (1937) is a cheerful, tuneful piece. The much earlier Fugue and Chorale are teaching pieces, maybe, but direct in appeal. In the Reverie the organ is dominant in the voices (excellent singing) merely colouring melodious argument. Memorial Melody is an arrangement from the original (organ/strings) written to mark the death of King George V. We also have pieces dedicated to Davies by other composers. These include the Elegy by Thalben–Ball, his successor at the Temple Church, being heard, like Solemn Melody – which it strongly resembles – in both organ and cello/organ versions. There are also extracts from two of Walford Davies’ radio broadcasts on "Music and the Ordinary Listener" which were landmarks of music appreciation. We must be grateful for this valuable and excellently recorded and annotated CD. Dare we hope for recordings of the Symphony, the oratorio Everyman and some of the chamber music?

Phil Scowcroft

See also review by Christopher Howell

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