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New Zealand Organ Music
Tecwyn EVANS (b.1971) Dedica [15:17]
Andrew BALDWIN (b.1986) An Advent Prelude [7:42]
Helen CASKIE (b.1930) Three Pleasant Pieces [18:41]
Timothy HURD QSM (b.1952) Reliquiæ [10:58]
David FARQUHAR (1928-2007) Prelude and Fugue [8:22]
Andrew PERKINS (b.1961) Ave Maris Stella [6:21]
Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001) Prelude and Fugue in G minor [12:22]
Richard Apperley (organ)
rec. 2012, Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, St James’ Presbyterian, Newtown, St Peter’s on Willis, National War Memorial, The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, St Paul’s Lutheran Church
ORGANISM ORG006 [79:43]
 
Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien
Johann KUHNAU (1660-1772)
First Sonata [13:20]
Second Sonata [13:45]
Third Sonata [18:43]
Fourth Sonata [7:56]
Fifth Sonata [14:59]
Richard Apperley (organ)
rec. October 2010, St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Wellington, New Zealand
ORGANISM ORG001 [55:43]
 
Select Pieces for Organ
John KEEBLE (1711-1786)
CD 1: Voluntaries 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 17 [78:00]
CD 2: Voluntaries 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 [78:37]
Dianne Halliday (organ)
rec. July 2012, St Peter’s, on Willis, Wellington, New Zealand
ORGANISM ORG 008 [78:00 + 78:37]
 
The ‘Earthquake’ Mass
Jack BODY (b. 1944) Psalm 137 [6:50]
Ross HARRIS (b. 1945) Vobiscum in aeternum [7:49]
Antoine BRUMEL (c. 1460-1513) Missa Et ecce terrae motus [47:39]
The Tudor Consort, Michael Stewart (Music Director)
rec. 25-27 May 2012, Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Wellington, New Zealand
ORGANISM ORG007 [62:18]


 
Organism is a new record label based in New Zealand. It has been set up to release church and chamber music. The whole branding is cool, sleek and clean giving each CD a modern and appealing image. Does the music live up to the front covers?
 
The perfect place to start an overview is ORG001, the first title in the catalogue. This is a recording by Richard Apperley of the Biblical Sonatas by Johann Kuhnau. Kuhnau was a fascinating character and immediate predecessor of J.S. Bach. His achievements have been eclipsed by Bach’s legendary status but his keyboard works are probably the most well-known of his works today. Each sonata depicts an episode from the Bible with the first describing the story of David and Goliath. Apperley performs all the sonatas with confidence and sensitivity. The instrument is a 1960s Flentrop which suits this music well. Ignoring the argument over which keyboard instrument these works were intended for, this is a very enjoyable performance. Lightness of touch and quirky registration choices create the sense of an ancient sound-world.
 
Staying with early compositions, Dianne Halliday’s recording of John Keeble’s Voluntaries is next for inspection. Keeble was organist at St. George’s, Hanover Square in London for most of his life. During the recording of this CD on 3 July 2012 an earthquake was felt in Wellington. The piece that was being recorded at the time can be heard at organism.co.nz. This meant that some of the pieces on these two CDs suffer from a transformation in the pitch of the organ after the quake. Other than this unalterable fact, this is a pleasant recording of some nice pieces. The Voluntaries are good examples of English organ music of this time and Halliday’s playing is virtuosic and restrained, as necessary. The organ has some lovely sounds and is well suited to this carefully crafted music.
 
Richard Apperley, the driving force of the label, has also recorded a CD of organ music by New Zealand composers. This uses a selection of organs. In some ways this is the most interesting CD. It is quite safe to assume that no other label would be in a position to release a recording like this and it provides a true overview of instruments and composers which are unique to New Zealand. The highlight is Douglas Liburn’s Prelude and Fugue in g minor. This has such a “foreign” flavour without using atonal methods and also uses some exceptional sounds. Apperley judges the registration and tempo with such precision that the growth from quiet to loud feels organic. The performer certainly knows his way around this instrument.
 
Moving away from organ music, the last disc is choral music sung by the Tudor Consort. This CD was produced as a fund-raising project following the earthquake in Canterbury in February 2011. The main feature of the CD is Brumel’s Missa Et ecce terrae motus also known as “The Earthquake Mass”. This is joined by two new commissions. The 12-part mass is sung beautifully. The sound achieved by this choir is warm and blended without losing precision and clarity. However, this warmth occasionally leads to a lack of energy and the feeling of lost pitch. The new works on the disc are more successfully performed. The contribution by Ross Harris is designed to be a prelude to Tallis’s If ye love me and uses the same text but in Latin translation. The glacial changes are very well performed and the tuning is perfect.
 
It is worth looking out for more contributions from Organism. Richard Apperley clearly has vision and focus. This will lead to high-quality recordings of interesting and lesser-known works on some very fine instruments and of New Zealand’s leading chamber musicians. Stylish covers are lived up to by stylish performances.
 
Hannah Parry-Ridout
 

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