Concert review

PERCY WHITLOCK'S ORGAN SYMPHONY; York University Orchestra/Jonathan Wainwright /Francis Jackson (organ)(York Minster 16/06/99)

Percy Whitlock's Organ Symphony was premiered in 1937. After years of silence, it was broadcast in 1989 by Graham Barber and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra from Llandaff Cathedral. It is to be released on CD next year with the same forces and coupled with Francis Jackson's own Organ Concerto on Amphion Recordings (PHI CD 155).

The 45-minute Symphony is cast in four movements: an Allegro sostenuto, followed by an Elegy, a Scherzo and a Finale in the form of a Toccata and Fugue with a Presto coda. The latest performance of this enjoyable work was lent distinction by the presence of Francis Jackson in the solo organ part. but York Minster, though visually inspiring, was something of a drawback, as its cavernous acoustics occasionally threatened to overwhelm the ripe Romantic score, which I had previously described as being "awash with good tunes" - in this setting those words sometimes took on an unfortunately literal meaning! Nonetheless, the audience responded warmly to the piece with extended applause, directed particularly to the eminent soloist, who fairly bounded back and forth from organ to platform, making light of his eighty-two years!


Paul Conway

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