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