Kevin Bowyer (organ)
rec. Taylor organ, De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 1998; *Hill, Norman
& Beard organ, Royal Hospital School Chapel, Holbrook, Suffolk,
ALTO ALC 1187 [78:34]
Toccata Giubiloso (1986) [3:38] Camille SAINT-SAENS(1835-1921)
Danse Macabre (arr. E H Lemare) [7:49] Sergei RACHMANINOV(1873-1943)
Prelude in C# minor (arr. Louis Vierne) [4:06] Charles WILLIAMS(1893-1978)
Devil's Galop (arr. George Blackmore) [1:38] Nigel OGDEN(b.1954)
Penguins' Playtime [2:29] Albert KETÈLBEY(1875-1959)
In a Persian Market (arr. Matthews) [6:09] Edward MARSH(b.1966)
Toccata sur “Pat le Facteur” [5:04] Marco Enrico BOSSI(1861-1925)
Etude Symphonique, op.78 [4:36] Norman COCKER(1889-1953)
Tuba Tune [4:28] Eric COATES(1886-1957)
*March: The Dam Busters (arr. Edward Marsh) [4:13] Jack STRACHEY(1894-1972)
*In Party Mood (arr. George Blackmore) [4:14] Scotson CLARK(1840-83)
*Marche aux Flambeaux [4:15] Leon JESSEL(1871-1942)
*The Parade of the Tin Soldiers [3:28] John Philip SOUSA(1854-1932)
*Stars and Stripes Forever (arr. Edward Marsh) [3:46] Charles-François GOUNOD(1818-1893)
*Funeral March of a Marionette (arr. W.T. Best) [4:30] Kenneth ALFORD(1881-1945)
*Colonel Bogey (arr.) [4:36] Edward ELGAR(1857-1934)
*Chanson de Matin (arr. A. Herbert Brewer) [2:54] Joseph JONGEN(1873-1953)
The two halves of this new CD on the American Alto label are drawn from recitals first published by NPC more than a decade ago, the garish artwork of their covers making Alto's look the height of chasteness. More recently the two originals reappeared on Regis, with the highly dubious titles "Organ X-plosion I: Danse Macabre" and "Dambusters!: Organ X-plosion II" (FRC 8013, 8104). The Regis discs are still available on the internet at around the same price as this Alto, although the latter is far easier to find in stock.
The two parts of English organist extraordinaire Kevin Bowyer's 'recital' add up to a hugely entertaining hour-and-a-quarter, with truly something for all tastes. There are the 'Dick Barton' and 'Housewives' Choice' themes for fans of the old BBC Light Programme, and Nigel Ogden's Penguins' Playtime for those with fond holiday memories of Blackpool Tower. For the higher-minded, in a surprisingly effective transcription by the great French organist Louis Vierne, there is Rachmaninov's famous Prelude in C sharp minor. How about Eric Coates's 'Dam Busters' march and Kenneth Alford's Colonel Bogey for the military man, or even the - weirdly original-sounding - 'Postman Pat' theme for youngsters, composed by Edward Marsh, who elsewhere provides a number of appealing arrangements. There is music loud enough to rouse the dead (Danse Macabre) and gentle enough to relax them again (Chanson de Matin).
Finally there are some classy original items, from Norman Cocker's uplifting Tuba Tune ('Tuba' as in the powerful reed stop) to the virtuosic originality of Marco Bossi's Etude Symphonique. Bowyer rounds off in style with another original work, the barnstorming Toccata by the shamefully neglected Belgian composer-organist, Joseph Jongen.
Bowyer is in fine form, as he always seems to be, making light of countless bravura passages for hands and feet, and making the most of the many fun pieces without ever turning them into kitsch. The back cover describes Bowyer as "in a mood to amuse", but this is more than that - he is giving listeners the chance to appreciate some of the power and range of the "King of Instruments" whilst being thoroughly entertained by tuneful, rousing and evocative music.
Sound quality for both parts is about as good as it is possible to make an organ recording, and the tracks are beautifully edited. The two English organs are mighty beasts indeed, with very impressive dynamic ranges and the capacity to rock the foundations of the surrounding neighbourhood. The booklet thoughtfully provides a few lines about each work from John Henderson and James Murray, and a brief specification of the instruments.
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