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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    


Jonathan Scott: Bridgewater Hall Organ
Mikhail GLINKA arr Battiwala Overture "Ruslan and Ludmilla" [5.21]
Johann Sebastian BACH Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BVW542) [11.02]
Thomas PITFIELD Short Sonata: Larghetto serioso e sostenuto [2.25]; Allegro Moderato, poco maestoso [4.10]
Richard WAGNER/Ronald STEVENSON Fugue on the Shepherd's air from "Tristan & Isolde" [6.06]
Ronald STEVENSON Reflections on an Old Scots Psalm Tune (Dundee) [3.07]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS arr Lemare Danse Macabre [7.33]
Maurice DURUFLÉ Prelude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain op.7 Prelude [6.14] Fugue [4.47]
Paul DUKAS arr Jonathan Scott The Sorcerer's Apprentice [10.21]
Jonathan Scott (organ)
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
No recording date given
ASC CS CD42 [59.86]

ASC records may be ordered directly from ASC Productions, 145a Chester Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 8PT. 01625 423605
orders@asc.records.com
www.ASCrecords.com

 

This is a fascinating disc exploiting in equal measure the tonal dimensions of the Bridgewater Hall organ and the talents of the young Jonathan Scott. This is a programme that, in variety both of technique and musical content, echoes a catholicity of taste that is in some way a hallmark of Manchester music-making. There is an almost Priestley-esque common touch in the deservedly ‘pop’ element of the excitingly outrageous transcriptions of the "Ruslan and Ludmilla" overture, the devastating "Danse Macabre" and the organist’s own brilliantly-worked version of "L’Apprenti Sorcier" Nothing in this music to be sniffed at but instead wholeheartedly enjoyed in a welter of sound that bids fair to out-do by a mile the redoubtable Carlo Curley!

The purist has the Bach G minor (BVW542) (with perhaps just a hint of flagging in the peroration of the Fugue?) to be succeeded by a modestly entitled ‘Short’ Sonata by Tom Pitfield – an unassuming evensong Larghetto with a second movement of almost Gothic grandeur.

The Scottish Ronald Stevenson is represented by two pieces, the second of which is a reflectively simple, yet powerful, commentary on the psalm-tune ‘Dundee (1591). His Fugue on the Shepherd’s Air from Wagner’s "Tristan" is the central panel of a major work – part of a kaleidoscopic triptych whose imagery is derived from the legend of Tristan und Isolde (in which larger complete work there is a setting of Scots poet Tom Hubbard’s "Isolde’s Luve-Daith" and an elaboration of the Dresden Amen). The fugal subject in this extract is the cor anglais solo from the first scene of Act 3 of the opera, its evocative Swiss yodel-like movement is expressive of the mountains and swells to a truly Wagnerian climax.

A pupil of Dukas, Duruflé, like his mentor, wrote little (tho’ half of what he did write is for organ). Perhaps best known for his beautiful "Requiem" (opus 9) his Prelude and Fugue on the name Alain (his friend and fellow student at the Conservatoire killed in action aged only 29) has a kind of delicate strength. The Prelude’s use of the motif derived from the name Alain is punctuated by a recurring quotation from that composer’s "Litanies" culminating in a heroic liturgical benediction. The Fugue also based on the theme is bold, with a joyous apotheosis that shows to great effect the resources of this magnificent instrument. Too many recordings of organ music tend to turn the contrapuntal strands into a kind of soup. This recording, in this hall’s acoustic is fresh and clear, with the deft fingering of this young player articulated with admirable precision. The organ, by Marcussen & Son of Denmark, with its four manuals and seventy-six stops has been especially designed. It presents an imposing façade of carefully chosen panelling and gleaming silver pipework (all 5,500+ of which are functional) and a bank of solo trumpets jutting forward ‘en chamade’. Yet the ultimate desiderata is brilliance of sound and range of expression. This disc is a Baedecker-like guide to the impressive range of possible sound that, in the hands of this intrepid player, is thrilling. It is highly recommended, and not only for organ buffs.

Colin Scott-Sutherland

 



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