> Victorian Organ Sonatas [PS]: Classical CD Reviews- June2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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John E WEST: Sonata in D Minor
Hugh BLAIR: Short Sonata in G Opus 8/3
W BATTISON HAYNES: Introduction and Variations on a Ground Bass; Sonata in D Minor
John Kitchen (organ)
PRIORY PRCD 756 [67.00?]


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The only British Victorian organ sonatas regularly encountered these days are those by Elgar and Basil Harwood (his 1st). But there were others and this enjoyable disc (and, hopefully, its successors) explores these. John West was a Novello editor and a notable musician; his Sonata of 1895 (the same year as Elgarís) begins boldly, though a Sullivanesque tune affords contrast, and if the slow movement is sentimental and the final fugue a touch conventional, neither is unattractive. Blair, whose Evening Service in B Minor is still sung in cathedrals, unsurprisingly shows the influence of Elgar, the premiere of whose Sonata he gave, and is admirably concise, his Short Sonata playing for scarcely 12 minutes. Its best moment is when the broad tune of the Lento returns towards the end of the finale. Haynes (1859-1900) shows confidence both in his Variations and the Sonata, both dating from the 1880s and both worth hearing, even if Elgar and Harwood are not likely to be supplanted in popularity. Mr Kitchen, playing the Hope-Jones organ at Edinburgh University (its specification is given in the informative booklet) is a persuasive advocate for this rarely heard, but worthwhile repertoire. Roll on Vol 2!

Philip Scowcroft


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