Looking for a collection
of pops arranged by two performers for organ four hands? If
so you will not go far wrong with this although the shortish
playing time takes a little shine off the end result.
Born in Huddersfield,
Max Kenworthy has performed recitals throughout the United Kingdom,
Australia and New Zealand. He arrived in New Zealand in October
2002 to take up the position of Assistant Organist at the Wellington
Cathedral of St Paul. He is partnered here by the distinguished
concert organist Nicholas Grigsby. Max and Nicholas gave their
first organ duet recital together at Wellington Cathedral in
May 2004. They have now given recitals at most major venues
throughout New Zealand and Australia including Brisbane, Canberra
The Dunedin Town Hall
organ is known as ‘Norma’. It was built in 1919 and its 23 tonnes
were toured the length of the UK as “the Bathurst Mammoth Cathedral
Organ”. It was used at the 1924 Wembley Stadium Exhibition but
by 1930 ended up installed as a permanent at Dunedin Town Hall.
In 1990 it need ed a refit. This was done, we are told, with
attention to the original sound of the instrument, a console
upgrade and solid-state logic supplanting the old electro-pneumatic
The big sound achieved
in Dunedin Town Hall in front of an applauding audience is splendidly
sumptuous. The two organists have the giant instrument capering
with an agility that in large part belies its forbidding mass
of pipes, manuals and stops along with an array of novelty percussion.
The exhilarating blast
and speed of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba is tempered
by the awkwardness of getting such a colossus to move at such
a speed. Two Bach favourites cool the passions before Guilmant's
Cantilène Pastorale with its nicely tiered dynamics and
reedy sentimentality. The tripartite Psalm Sonata in D minor
for Two Organs by Merkel returns us to massive statements
of rib-reverberating grandeur. It can be compared with the giant
oratory for organ by Liszt and Reubke although there is some
reflective respite in the adagio.
With the exception
of the Derek Bourgeois we are then back in pops land. Fauré's
Pavane is taken at too brisk a saunter for my liking but the
arrangement brings out some nicely-tiered effects from this
instrument. I did not at first recognise Pomp and Circumstance
No. 4 but it soon finds its feet complete with tambourine effect
from the organ. Again it's a trial not completed discharged
to make this sound as agile as the original, pleasing though
it is overall. The Albinoni Adagio, on the other hand, works
Derek Bourgeois, with
34 symphonies to his name, not to mention 14 concertos, now
lives in Mallorca. His Serenade for organ is a real tonic and
works well. It is superbly carefree perhaps with a touch of
rumba in its DNA. It's a real discovery that organists should
certainly seek out without delay.
The Ride of the Valkyries
bids fair to bring the house down. The crushingly powered arrangement
spares no-one and includes some superb 'howls' along the way.
However the downward-slashing figures towards the end just cannot
match the slippery celerity of a full orchestra.
There are good notes
in English only and a full specification for the organ together
with extensive photographs of organ and artists.
This is quite a winning
disc even if the arrangements cannot be as nimble on their toes
as the orchestral originals. In this they continue a noble 19th
and 20th century calling that only bloodless purists will object
to. As for the rest of you who crave a mix of stunning pops,
stunningly recorded and leavened with the saccharine Guilmant
(I love his organ symphonies), the brutally romantic Merkel
and the cheery original Bourgeois, look no further.
Heck, is that the Tracey
Brothers on the cover? Never knew they were so musical. FAB.
Sandy Shaw eat your heart out!