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Great Cathedral Organs of England
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Wedding March (1843) (arr. Timothy Farrell)1 [
4:22]
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
1st movement Concerto in F major (arr. Farrell)1 [
3:04]
Johann Strauss I (1804-1849)
Radetsky March (1848) (arr. Farrell)1 [2:59]
Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
The Lost Chord (1877) (arr. Christopher Dearnley)2 [
5:07]
Edwin Lemare (1865-1934)
Andantino ‘Moonlight & Roses’2 [5:51]
George Frideric Handel
Air from Water Music (arr. Dearnley)2 [
2:36]
Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941)
Solemn Melody (1908) (arr. Dearnley)2 [
4:35]
Jeremiah Clarke (c.1674-1707)
Trumpet Voluntary (c.1700) (arr. Barry Rose)3 [
2:39]
Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Intermezzo (2nd movement, Sonata no.8)3 [3:50]
Mario Enrico Bossi (1861-1925)
Scherzo in g minor4 [7:18]
Norman Cocker (1889-1953)
Tuba Tune (1922)5 [4:43]

Théodore Dubois (1837-1924)
Toccata (1886)5 [6:49]
Eugène Gigout (1844-1925)
Dix Pièces: Scherzo (1890)5 [4:24]
Henri Mulet (1878-1967)
Carillon-Sortie (1911-12)5 [4:58]

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Te Deum (c.1690)6 [2:56]

Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
Folk Tune (1930)6 [
4:27]
Percy Whitlock
Scherzo (1930)6 [1:53]
Louis Vierne (1870-1901)
Finale (Symphony No.1) (1898)6 [6:38]

Timothy Farrell (Organ of Westminster Abbey)1
Christopher Dearnley (Organ of St. Paul’s)2
Barry Rose (Organ of Guildford Cathedral)3
Allan Wicks (Organ of Canterbury Cathedral)4
Francis Jackson (Organ of York Minster)5
Noel Rawsthorne (Organ of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral)6

rec. Brian Culverhouse, 1974-1976 ADD
REGIS RRC1304 [78:23] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


This is an enjoyable and well-filled anthology from a series of recordings made for various mid-price DG-offshoot labels, Polydor and Contour, in the 1970s by Brian Culverhouse.
 

Timothy Farrell’s Mendelssohn Wedding March gets the programme off to a rousing start, followed by a meditative (too meditative?) performance of the opening movement of the Handel Organ Concerto in F - No.7, though the Regis notes don’t identify it. 

Farrell’s third item, the Radetsky March is by Johann Strauss I, not II as stated in the booklet, on the rear insert and on the Regis website. Composed in honour of a reactionary general remembered for hindering the cause of Italian reunification and nationhood, it’s always part of the unpublished agenda, along with Johann II’s Blue Danube, at the close of the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day Concert. On this recording there’s no audience participation but the performance is lively enough to warrant the handclapping which the New Year audience delight in. 

All three of these Farrell/Westminster Abbey recordings are taken from a Polydor LP released in 1974, Music for Royal Weddings. The two marches are played with tremendous energy and the recording still sounds excellent. 

Christopher Dearnley’s contribution begins with a suitably glutinous performance of Sullivan’s Lost Chord – if you’re going to play this highly sentimental piece, this is the way to do it, with the heavens opening to the sound of the full organ at the conclusion; it may be that only in heaven I shall hear that great ‘amen’ but Dearnley gives us a pretty good terrestrial approximation. 

Moonlight and Roses is a pretty slurpy piece, too; it, likewise, receives a performance to match. I may sound superior about these sentimental works, but I have to admit that they retain the power to move in these performances. The extract from Water Music is well enough done. 

This Barry Rose performance of the Clarke Trumpet Voluntary appeared on the Contour label in 1974; the comments made by reviewers then certainly apply, namely that this is baroque music made comfortable in the English cathedral organ tradition, with much of its dynamic range ironed out. The Rheinberger, a very different work, also sounds rather comfortable in this performance. 

Allan Wicks’ performance of the Bossi Scherzo appeared on Polydor in 1975. His performance of this virtuoso work deserves all the praise that it received then and the recording still sounds well. 

The four works performed by Francis Jackson formed a considerable portion of a 1974 Polydor LP, recorded soon after the restoration of the York Minster organ. The three French items ought not to sound ‘right’ on an English organ – they certainly sound different on a French organ – but they are well worth hearing in such sympathetic performances. Once again, the recording, highly praised in its day, still sounds well. 

By coincidence, I happened to hear a performance of Cocker’s Tuba Tune on Radio 3 at breakfast this morning and thought it pretty good – just as good as Francis Jackson’s performance. It was Francis Jackson! 

Finally, four items from a 1976 Polydor recording of Noel Rawsthorne at the organ of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Brian Culverhouse thought this, the most recent segment of the CD, the most exciting recording he had ever made and I’m not about to disagree with him. The Charpentier is laid on a little thick, but the two Whitlock items, attractive staples of the English organ tradition go well and the CD ends with a powerful performance from a very different school – an extract from a Vierne Symphony which made me wish that he’d included the whole work. 

The 1976 Polydor LP cost 24/9, £1.25 but equivalent to at least £15 in today’s values. Now Regis bring us a distillation of these Polydor and Contour LPs, with about twice as much music as each of them contained, for a fraction of the cost. If you like this sort of collection, you have every incentive to go out and buy it. It’s very good of its kind; it still sounds well; it comes with an informative set of notes, and it’s unbelievably inexpensive. 

I enjoyed hearing this budget-price CD just as much as the full-price recordings in Christopher Herrick’s Organ Fireworks series for Hyperion – see my review of Volume XII – and that’s high praise indeed. I came very close to nominating this my Bargain of the Month; only the two Barry Rose items, not representative of this organist at this best, let the side down slightly.

Brian Wilson




 


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