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Frederick William HOLLOWAY (1873-1954) Symphonic Organ Works
Markus Eichenlaub (organ)
rec. 2019, St. Bartholomäus, Gackenbach, Germany AEOLUS AE11181 SACD [79:11]
On 30 November 1936 a fire swept through the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, completely destroying it. The event also had significance for one man, the English late Romantic composer Frederick William Holloway. He was the organist there and, from 1932, had been director of its Choral and Orchestral Society. When the inferno broke out a choir rehearsal was taking place. Thankfully Holloway and his choral forces escaped unscathed, but some of the composer's music was lost. His tenure was thus brought to an abrupt end and he became a footnote in English musical history.
He graduated with an FRCO at the Royal College of Organists. From the 1920s he’d been organist at the Sydenham Crystal Palace and also held posts at St. Paul's, Herne Hill and All Saints, Dulwich. He died on 20 January 1954, aged eighty. All of his known organ works date from the first two decades of the 20th century. Much of the music is for a secular setting, with titles such as Suite arabesque, Suite ancienne, Concert toccata and Symphonie in C minor. He also composed music for voice and piano. The notes speak of Holloway's 'Francophilia', so it's not surprising that French music and the instruments of Cavaillé-Coll were an abiding influence. So you’ll hear echoes of Franck, Widor, and Alexandre Guilmant, and in the larger works the influence of Bruckner. All the music here is receiving a World première recording.
The Introduction and Allegro concertante in G minor, which opens Markus Eichenlaub's programme, is a suitable curtain raiser with its triumphal march-like ending, bolstered by energy and intensity. The opening lead-in is much more restrained, with the dynamic kept under wraps, and the music having a static quality. At just over nine minutes, it’s the most substantial single piece. The Concert toccata is equally imposing, and you'll find the coruscating swirls and cascades make an impressive display. The Andante and finale fugato in G major has a tranquil introduction and a noble and majestic finale. Holloway demonstrates fluent contrapuntal skills in the fugato.
The composer’s melodic gifts are certainly not in short supply. The lovely Cantilène is swathed in genteel lyricism and is an attractive morsel. The Allegretto grazioso in F sounds rather salon-like, with a melody that reminded me of John Ireland's Chelsea Reach.
The Symphonie in C minor is cast in four movements. The first opens austerely but, when the music takes off, it becomes more animated. A doleful Andante follows, then comes a playful Scherzo, which is quite sprightly. A solemn finale calls time in grand and spacious fashion.
I was fascinated to read about the very fine Gackenbach organ, used in the recording. It was built by the English organ builder H.J.Nelson in 1904, and was originally housed in the United Reform Church in Crook, near Durham, an area I'm very familiar with. It was purchased for its present location in 2009 and enlarged. I'm pleased that the instrument's specifications are noted in the liner. Eichenlaub's imaginative registration choices showcase this wonderful instrument to perfection.
Introduction and Allegro concertante G major [9:20]
Cantilène E minor, Op.33 [3:52]
Andante cantando E minor, Op.40 [5:53]
Courante en forme de canon A minor, Op.58 [3:40]
Concert toccata D minor, [4:19]
Duo F major, Op.58 [2:46]
Allegretto leggiero F major, Op.57 [2:54]
Andante sinfonico D flat major, Op.48 [7:35]
Allegretto grazioso F major, Op.49 [7:06]
Andante and finale fugato G minor, Op.17 [8:19]
Symphony in C minor, Op.47 [23:18]