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ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC  Matthew Morley at the organ of St Barnabas Church, Dulwich, LondonBEULAH  1RF3  [70.00]



William H HARRIS (1883-1973) Flourish for an Occasion
John STANLEY (1718-86) Voluntary VII
Thomas ARNE (1710-78) Concerto No 1 - Introduction and fugue
William RUSSELL (1777-1813) Voluntary XV
C Hubert H PARRY (1848-1918) Fantasia and Fugue in G
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Rhapsody No 17 Nos 1-3
Patrick GOWERS (1936- ) Toccata
Peter Maxwell DAVIES (1938- ) Three organ voluntaries

The multi-faceted stone reflectors of Gothic Cathedrals blend organ tones together: street-organ pipes come at you like newsvendors. Parish church acoustics offer all stations in between; and I revelled in the strong colour contrasts of Matthew Morley's varied programme on the new Tickell organ at St. Barnabas, Dulwich.

If Harris's "Flourish" is a trifle tame harmonically the chorus reeds make its impact telling: enjoyable too is this fine player's easing into the softer foundation tones of Choir and Swell. Back to Stanley, where a fine diapason and cornet stop come into focus, followed by scampering flutes in an Arne Concerto.

Well-written sleeve notes mark the progress of this well-designed and finely played recital. We learn that William Russell's Voluntary XV hints at some of the vulgarities to come in Victorian England. Personally, I loved his operatic twitterings, especially as enunciated by a Swell reed and the Cremona. Certainly Victorian solidity still hangs around Parry's impressive Fantasia and Fugue in G.

How then would the crepuscular opening of Howells' first Rhapsody sound on this instrument? Movingly beautiful! "Do not forget me quite, O Severn meadows" I mused, probably misquoting Gurney. If the third Rhapsody lacks rhythmic and melodic definition, the lesser known Second really figures. How had I neglected it so long?

Festive fireworks in the Patrick Gowers Toccata lead to three slow pieces by Maxwell Davies. An anticlimax? Not at all. The startling entry of the solo stop in Psalm 124 put me in mind of Betjeman's couplet:

"Praise ye the Lord! and in another key the Lord's name by harmonium be praised''.

A strange but effective end to the 70-minute programme.

Organ buffs will love to learn from the notes of the constituent in each rank of pipes etc: and, following current TV credits, everyone gets a mention, including the tea-maker. Altogether a joyous enterprise, well carried through. Not a habitual listener to organ recordings, I shall come back to this one with great pleasure.


Andrew Seivewright



Andrew Seivewright

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