Samuel WESLEY (1766-1837)
12 Short Pieces, with a Full Voluntary Added (c.1815) [26:27]
14 Short Pieces [edited Robin Langley] [32:22]
Introductory Movement in E [1:22]
Introduction and Aria Cantabile [4:44]
Prelude and Fugue in C minor [7:54]
Voluntary and Fugue in D [5:19]
Christopher Howell (organ)
rec. Church of San Lorenzo, Lessona, Italy, 18 September, 2 October 2009, 6 March 2010. DDD
This disc was previously reviewed here. Newish Italian label Sheva's potentially self-ruinous habit of amateurishly chopping off still resonating sound at the ends of tracks was mentioned in a recent review, and regrettably continues unabated in this recording. Almost every track is affected; Sheva must remedy this immediately or run the risk of alienating the music-buying public.
One particularly annoying side-effect is that when a given track does not segue into another that is part of the same work the music is interrupted by a second of digital silence. This is the kind of treatment that may well be acceptable for pop music consumers, where each track is a separate song, but it is absolutely not all right for art music recordings. Sheva need to hire a production team that understands this fundamental quickly.
As if to add insult to injury, there is also some kind of light, 'prickly'-sounding interference over much of the recording. It may be relatively low level, but its presence is inexplicable. How is it that no one involved in the CD production noticed?
Poor Samuel Wesley. His amazing organ music crops up on a recording once in a blue moon - such as on this one by David Herman at Coventry Cathedral in 2003. It is largely overshadowed by his admittedly highly gifted son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley. Poor Christopher Howell too. He gives a committed performance that, in spite of the handicap presented by a somewhat battered-sounding instrument - at least apologised for in the booklet! - does some justice to the weird and wonderful byways frequented by Wesley's imagination.
The English-Italian booklet notes are pretty good, with a detailed track-listing and informative notes on Wesley and his organ music supplied by Howell himself. Nevertheless, the technical shortcomings of this disc are not forgivable. Sheva deserve credit for recording these pieces, but they need to go back and do it properly, and ideally on a better instrument.
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Sheva need to go back and do this properly, and ideally on a better instrument.