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The Willis Organ at Salisbury Cathedral
Francis JACKSON (b.1917)

The Archbishop’s Fanfare [1’00]
John COOK (1918-1984)

Fanfare [5’43]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) arr. Alexander SCHREINER

Maestoso in C sharp minor opus 16 [5’52]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)

Scherzo opus 2 [6’11]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Canon in B minor opus 56 No. 3 [3’16]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Lo, how a Rose is Blooming opus 122 no. 8 [3’01]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Sonata No. 2 in C minor opus 65 [11’30]
I Grave
II Adagio
III Allegro maestoso e vivace
IV Fuga: Allegro moderato
Franck BRIDGE (1879-1941)

Adagio in E major [6’21]
Marcel DUPRÉ (186-1971)

Triptyque opus 51 [15’19]
I Chaconne
II Musette
III Dithyrambe
Michael Murray, organ
Rec: Salisbury Cathedral, March 20th-21st, 1990
TELARC CD-80255 [58’58]

Michael Murray’s programme is an eclectic one spanning composers from England, France and Germany. Murray spent some time studying with Dupré in France though no mention is made of his studies in the United States. Murray published a biography of Dupré in the mid-1980s.

He opens with two Fanfares. The first by Francis Jackson is rather short and shows-off the Salisbury Tuba very well. The Fanfare of John Cook is less remarkable, and wanders on for nearly six minutes. It might have felt more effective placed elsewhere in the programme. Another loud piece follows immediately so the ear begins to tire. Alexander Schreiner’s organ solo arrangement of the Kyrie from Vierne’s Messe Solenelle was new to me, and was given an effective reading. The Willis full swell is on display and the foundation tone goes some way towards replicating a Cavaillé-Coll fonds. The Duruflé Scherzo is very well performed, and I especially enjoyed the character achieved in the fast figuration and the wonderful colour of the end with strings and 4 foot flute- reminding me of Puget organs in France. The tone is beautiful and the playing sensitive to the architecture of the piece.

The Schumann Canon in B minor in contrast is performed rather slowly for my taste. In fact, it sounds as if the record player has been set at the wrong speed. The tone colour is also rather bright. Continuing on a German theme, the Brahms chorale ‘Lo, a Rose is Blooming’ (title given in English) is also at a slow speed with little rubato and some unidiomatic soloing-out of the left hand on a solo reed. The Mendelssohn Second Sonata fares rather better although again the third and fourth movements are far from brisk. The organ is however fairly well suited to this music and the registrations are largely appropriate. Bridge’s famous Adagio in E follows, and the Willis is truly in its element. The crescendo seems bumpy but this doesn’t completely detract from the music.

The disc ends with Dupré’s Triptyque. A work dating from the late 1950s, it was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the inauguration of a new Aeolian-Skinner organ. I like much of Dupré’s music, but this seems rather odd and doesn’t reach the standard of the Symphonie-Passion or famous Variations sur un Noël. The Chaconne at nearly nine minutes would benefit from some editing, although it is well performed. The short Musette is quite effective and allows a tour of various colours. The final Dithyrambe has an impressive conclusion.

The programme doesn’t hold together completely but the presence of the Vierne and the Duruflé make it worth hearing. The accompanying booklet contains the usual items, a full specification and a listing of Murray’s other recordings.

Graham Mark Scott

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