English Town Hall Organ - Philharmonie Duisburg
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Jupiter from The Planets op. 32 [8:23]
George Friedrich HANDEL (1685-1759)
Concerto for Organ and Orchestra op. 4 no. 5 [9:10]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Claire de lune from op. 53 [9:05]
Carillon de Westminster from op. 54 [6:22]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Adagio in E [6:20]
Allegro Marziale [4:07]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Nimrod from Variations on an original theme op. 36 [3:44]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Final op. 21 [13:14]
Roland Maria STANGIER (b. 1957)
Improvisation [10:29]
Zsolt GÁRDONYI (b. 1946)
Grand Choeur [7:00]
Roland Maria Stangier (organ)
rec. August-September 2010, Philharmonie Mercatorhalle, Duisburg, Germany
An organist’s first reaction to this CD is a rather blank expression. For a German concert hall to commission a brand new organ in the style of a 19th or 20th century English Town Hall organ is a little surprising, given the historic and respected tradition of organ building in Germany. However, the liner-notes explain that the City of Duisburg requested an organ that would be truly suited to secular music, so turned to the English tradition of large and versatile instruments, once found in every large town. Examples would include the instruments at Reading Town Hall and The Royal Albert Hall. These would have been played weekly, giving the average person access to orchestral music via transcriptions as well as English favourites such as the organ works of Hubert Parry. The repertoire chosen for this recording couldn’t be more appropriate. Orchestral transcriptions and English masterpieces were obvious choices. The French works, improvisation and the contemporary work act to show the adaptability of this instrument, and this player. German composers were deliberately avoided to negate comparison with “real” German instruments but it would have been interesting to hear how this music would have been treated. Dame Gillian Weir plays Bach and Liszt on the organ of The Royal Albert Hall, London, as well as English pieces and transcriptions (Priory PRCD 859).
The first Vierne piece showcases the soft stops beautifully and the composer’s tonal language is emphasised by the slightly exaggerated string stops. The full force of this colossal instrument is realised at the climax of the ever popular Carillon de Westminster, based on Big Ben’s chimes. Powerful forces are also employed for Bridge’s Allegro Marziale which is played assertively, and beautifully contrasted with Elgar’s Nimrod. Stangier’s playing is easily comparable to English virtuosos such as Thomas Trotter. Stangier handles the organ with just as much imagination. 

Stangier’s improvisation was conceived to demonstrate each of the different groups of stops on the organ. His French style of improvisation - he studied with Daniel Roth of S. Sulpice, Paris - works well with the forces available. Particularly enjoyable is the scherzo-like movement for the flute stops.
This is a really interesting disc which is a true credit to the new organ at the Mercatorhalle in Duisburg.
Hannah Parry-Ridout 
The organ is the real star of this recording.