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Organ Recital at Liverpool Cathedral
G.F. Handel (1685-1759) (arr. Tracey) Alla Hornpipe from the Water Music Suite in D (1717) [3:49]
J.H. Fiocco (1703-1741) (arr. Tracey) Harpsichord Suite No.1 - Andante and Allegro (1730) [3:16]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750) Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV565 (1708) [7:41]; (arr. Tracey) Badinerie from Suite No.2 on B minor BWV 1067 (1717) [1.28]
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) (arr. Ley) Two Trumpet Tunes and Air (?) [4:28]
Marco Henri Bossi (1861-1925) Scherzo in G minor Op.49 No.2 (1904) [5:36]
William Walton (1902-1983) (arr. Tracey) Crown Imperial (1937) [9:49]
Norman Cocker (1889-1953) (arr. Ley) Tuba Tune (1922) [5:02]
George Thalben-BALL (1896-1987) Elegy (1944) [4:51]
Max Reger (1873-1916) Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor (1900) [6:16]
Henri Mulet (1878-1967) Byzantine Sketches No.8 Noel and No. 10 Toccata (c.1915) [7:32]
Pietro Yon (1886-1943) Humoresque ‘L’organo primitivo (Toccatina for Flute) (1918) [2:33]
Charles Marie Widor (1844-1937) Toccata in F from Organ Symphony No.5 in F minor Op. 42 No.1 (1879) [5:48]
Ian Tracey (organ).
rec. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, June 1989.
CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 0946 3 82228 2 8 [74:14]

Let’s be straight about this CD. If I had to buy one CD to introduce a reluctant listener to the joys of organ music – this would be it. There are at least three reasons for this choice. Firstly, Ian Tracey is definitely one of the finest organists at present playing in our cathedrals and he was pretty good 18 years ago when this album was put to bed. Secondly, the repertoire is superbly chosen – more about that later. And lastly, I admit personal bias. The venue is the greatest. Forget the glories of Salisbury, York and St Paul’s; in my book Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the finest cathedral in the land. I can never quite get my head around Giles Gilbert Scott’s masterpiece. It is stunning – whether viewing across the Mersey from Birkenhead or when virtually forced onto ones knees upon entering the nave. And the organ is pretty good too! It is the largest ‘liturgical’ organ in the United Kingdom. For the record, Henry Willis III provided some 146 speaking stops and 9765 pipes in 1926. And of course do not forget that Liverpool is home to the greatest football team in the world and was the birthplace of the Beatles. What a recommendation for a CD!

Back to the repertoire: there is no need to give a detailed resumé of each piece and it would be redundant to pick out highlights. But even the briefest glance at the track listing reveals a well balanced programme that is well designed to show off both the organ and the organist to best advantage.

From the opening notes of Handel’s Water Music: Hornpipe to the last explosion of Widor’s essential, but often hackneyed, Toccata proves that big is very often best when it comes to the organ loft. Yet the more intimate sounds of the instrument can be heard too. Take for example Pietro Yon’s exquisite Humoresque or maybe the little known Harpsichord Suite by J.H. Fiocco; this is music that demands attention without overwhelming the senses.

There are some pot-boilers here including the inevitable Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Argument rages as to whether this was written by J.S.B. or one of his contemporaries. But who cares: it is a fine performance. Genuine Bach is given in the gorgeous Badinerie arranged from the Orchestral Suite No. 2 BVW 1067.

Appropriately for one of England’s great cities a deal of British music is given. Two Trumpet Tunes and an Air by Henry Purcell welcomes the Royal Party or the Bride and her Father into the Cathedral. Tracey’s own arrangement of William Walton’s Crown Imperial March is a fine bit of spine-tingling, patriotic pleasure. And of course both Bill Walton and Liverpool used be associated with Lancashire until the early seventies and the creation of ‘Greater Manchester’ and ‘Merseyside’!

Great to hear Norman Cocker’s fine Tuba Tune – what a good excuse to use one of the instruments ‘heavy metal’ stops. And Cocker, although born the other side of the Pennines, was an honorary Mancunian: in footballing terms the ‘old enemy’!

I have always loved Thalben Ball’s Elegy – ever since I once happened to hear the composer playing it one evening in Temple Church. I think there were only he and me in the building! He wished me good evening after he had climbed down from the organ loft.

French music is represented by the Widor and of course Henri Mulet’s fine Noël and equally impressive Toccata.

Two of my favourite works on this CD are the fine Scherzo by the Italian Marco Enrico Bossi and what to my ear is the masterpiece on this CD – the Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor by Max Reger. So often Reger is seen as reactionary – but this present work is a fine example of his craft. Massive, impressive and virtuosic: perfectly framed for this great instrument.

A great CD. Buy it for yourself, or more appropriately for anyone who is on the cusp of becoming an organ buff! And do not forget to prepare yourself for 2008 when Liverpool becomes the European Capital of Culture!

John France


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