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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    


 

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Lammas Records

Sounds Awesome
Alan RIDOUT (1934-1996)
Reredos (1956) [4:42]; Paean (1963) [1:58]; Prelude on :St Thomas Honour We: (1988) [2:43]; Epithalamium (1967) [2:20]; The Seven Last Words (1965) (i) Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do [2:03]; ii) Woman, behold thy son ... Behold thy mother [3:45]; iii) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [2:01]; iv) Verily I say unto thee: Today shalt thou be with me in paradise [4:24]; v) I thirst [2:23]; vi) It is finished [4:14]; vii) Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [4:47])
Humphrey CLUCAS (b. 1941)
Psalm Prelude (2004) [2:32]; Symphony for organ (2004) (i) Allegro [10:44]; ii) Scherzo [4:26]; iii) Variations [7:46])
Peter WISHART (1921-1984)
Pastorale and Fughetta (1961); Pastorale [2:44]; Fughetta [1:55]
Humphrey SEARLE (1915-1982)
Cyprus Dances (1981) [4:41]
Robert Crowley (organ)
rec. Canterbury Cathedral, 26-27 October 2004. DDD
LAMMAS LAMM 183D [70:17]

 

Firstly, I've had enough of Lammas's ineffably twee titles for CDs, 'Sounds Awesome' means nothing and tells us little about this disc. Whether it indeed sounds awesome is of course entirely subjective anyway.

The disc comprises some lesser-known 20th, (and even early 21st) century compositions for organ by English composers. For me the most effective music is that of Alan Ridout. On the one hand 'The Seven Last Words', a substantial passiontide work, gained some early fame when its dedicatee Allan Wicks recorded it at Canterbury for Brian Culverhouse's Great Cathedral Organ series for EMI. This recording by Robert Crowley makes a different sort of impact, some forty years after the work's composition, but despite being very much a child of its time, this dissonant and challenging work still carries drama and emotion aplenty and a new recording is therefore welcome. On the other hand I like the simplicity of the material and form in the Prelude on St Thomas Honour We, and the Epithalamium.

The self taught Humphey Clucas wrote his organ symphony for the performer here, Robert Crowley. I find it overly fragmented and am seldom aware of a real sense of ongoing growth or development despite the traditional forms used. The short psalm prelude appeals more.

Peter Wishart, a former professor of music at Reading University, is represented by two short and attractive works, which nonetheless continue the sour acerbic harmonic language, albeit in a more serene context. The effect is intriguing; I should like to here these pieces again in another context.

Finally the Cyprus Dances of former RCM professor Humphrey Searle appeal through their rhythmic drive and gradual increase in tension.

To be honest I'm not about to study any of the music presented here. All of it has its merits and some will find followers. For me none of it is on the same level as the best organ music of Kenneth Leighton for instance. But I really admire Robert Crowley's dedicated, virtuosic performances and commend them to you. Crowley has carved something of a niche for himself with his recordings of 20th century British repertoire, and he does it very well. The Canterbury organ sounds good, perhaps it could have been recorded a little more atmospherically, it’s all a bit 'in your face'.

Recommended for fans of this repertoire.

Chris Bragg

AVAILABILITY 

Lammas Records

 

 


 



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