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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude in c BWV 546/1 [6'49]
Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621)

Variations on 'Mein Junges Leben hat ein End' [6'42]
Johann Kaspar Ferdinand FISCHER (c1660-1746)

Prelude and Fugue No 8 in E (Ariadne Musica) [2'10]
Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1667)

Ricercar no 7 in C (from The Book of Capricci) [3'26]
Johann Sebastian BACH

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 599 [1'25]
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639 [2'07]
O Mensch bewin' dein' Sunde gross BWV 622 [5'36]
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645 [4'27]
Jakob Ludwig Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847)

Sonata in d op 65 No 6;
Chorale and Variations [7'53]
Fugue [2'16]
Andante [2'15]
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximillian REGER (1873-1916)

Canzone in E flat op 65 no 9 [4'28]
Joseph Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901)

Prelude from Organ Sonata no 6 in e flat minor op 119 [6'23]
Cesar Auguste Jean Guillaume Hubert FRANCK (1822-1890)

Cantabile in B (Trois Pieces) [5'23]
Theodore Francois Clement DUBOIS (1837-1924)

Toccata in C major (sic) (12 Pieces Nouvelles) [6'36]
Henry Wallace FRCO, organ
Rec: St Mungo, Simonburn 25th May 1992. DDD
DIVINE ART DIVERSIONS 24101 [67'59]


This is a re-issue of a recording made to mark the restoration of a modest but gorgeous example of mid-19th century village organ building. First built in 1860 by the original J.W. Walker for a private house, the organ ended up in the church of St Mongo, Simonburn, in Northumberland. It consists of 13 stops on 2 manuals and pedal:

GT: 8888442

SW: 88848 (Horn)

PED: 16

The quality is immediately evident; more unaltered examples of really good 19th century small-scale English organ building should be recorded I think. The sweet flutes, gentle principals and the rich Horn all contribute to a beautiful instrument.

A shame then, that the organist Henry Wallace FRCO (never list your qualifications on a CD cover!), a former student of Peter Hurford and David Sanger, plays not a note of 19th century English music and dedicates the better part of thirty minutes to music written before 1750. This serves neither the instrument, nor the music optimally. That said, Wallace's Bach playing is probably stylistically rather in the manner of the way Bach was performed in 1860; rather legato and rhythmically unyielding. The result is a strangely satisfying aesthetic match. The Sweelinck, Froberger and Fischer miss the mark. The rest of the literature works better, but the playing is musically rather naive. The Franck is too solid, the Mendelssohn doesn't take sufficient notice of the composer’s very exact tempo markings. The Dubois is in G, not in C as stated on the CD booklet. What a shame we hear no Wesley, Russell, even the marvellously constructed miniatures of Edward Elgar's op.14 Vesper Voluntaries would have been spot-on.

A nice piece of local history, and an undoubtedly first-rate instrument, but to satisfactorily fill nearly 70 minutes of CD with such a modest instrument requires far more cunning than Wallace can offer.

Chris Bragg

 

 



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