S&H Recital review

DUPRÉ Symphony No 2; FRANCK Final; LISZT Fantasia & Fugue Ad nos ad salutarem undam; MESSIAEN Transports de Joie; BACH Fantasia & Fugue in G minor; HAKIM Gershwineska; MARSHALL Verdi Improvisation. Wayne Marshall (organ) RFH 30 April 2001 [PGW]

A large audience came to hear this popular Manchester-based organist, jazz pianist & conductor (+ BBC R3, live). His introductions, "are you enjoying it?" etc were a little off-key for an informed audience, many present being organists themselves, who did not need to be reminded that Bach & Franck were great composers.

No questioning his virtuosity and easy command of a fine instrument, upon which he seemed completely at home. It began well with Messiaen's Transports, which were indeed joyous. He favoured bright, loud registrations and high speed - his hands and feet raced through the Bach fugue and one had a feeling that the organ was trying to keep up with him! Dupré's Symphony No 2 of c.1930 was the most interesting item, concise, with piquant harmonies and intricate rhythms, a welcome clarity and never inflated. At a point by which something quieter and more reflective was urgently needed, we had Franck's Final, which Marshall warned us would be 'a romp'!

After a much-needed interval we had pot-pourris of Gershwin and Verdi tunes (the latter, with amusing harmonisations, billed as an improvisation - but how could we know?) and in the Hakim 'world premiere' Wayne Marshall contrived to make the RFH organ sound like a good old cinema Wurlitzer! Sandwiched between these was the huge, and again duly loud, Liszt Ad nos, ad salutarem undam, which failed to please me as it does on the Liszt CD of Nicolas Kynaston, who was heard playing Liszt not that long ago in an unforgettable recital at Southwark Cathedral, and also initiated this recital series to celebrate the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall organ.

Wayne Marshall's recital was a good show and crowd pleaser, but disappointing to at least one listener.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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