MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Sounds of St. Asaph
Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697)
in E minor† [8:36]
FranÁois Couperin (1668-1733)
Three Movements from Messe Pour Les Paroisses: Et In Terra Pax / Benedicimus Te / Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi
† (c.1690) [5:16]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Wir glšuben all' an einen Gott BWV680 (c.1739) [3:33]
J.D. Edwards (1805-1885)
Rhosymedre (?) [0.53]
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Prelude On Rhosymedre (1920) [4:51]; Romanza: The White Rock (1956) [2:13]
Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Master Tallis's Testament (1940) [6:30]; Psalm Prelude Set 2 No 1 Ps 130 v1 Out Of The Deep Have I Called Unto Thee, O Lord (1938-39) [8:39]
William Mathias (1934-1992)
(1964) [3:35]; Chorale (1966) [3:45]; Recessional (1964) [4:47]
Camille Saint Saňns (1835-1921)
Fantaisie in D flat op101 (1895) [12:01]
Petr Eben (1929-2007)
The Wed
ding In Cana: No 4 of Four Biblical Dances (1990-91) [6:27]
Dates of works given where known
Alan McGuinness (organ)
rec. St. Asaph Cathedral on 14-16 April 2008. DDD
REGENT REGCD287 [71:03]


Experience Classicsonline

The CD opens with an impressive piece. Nicolaus Bruhns’ surprisingly modern sounding Praeludium is actually quite a substantial piece lasting some eight minutes and explores a lot of ground. A friend hearing this piece imagined that it was by Max Reger!† Perhaps it is the chromatic harmonic shifts and big gutsy ‘North German Style’ writing that confused her?

FranÁois Couperin is relatively rarely heard at organ recitals, which is a pity. I had not heard his Messe pour Les Paroisses before this recording. Apparently, Couperin wrote two complete organ masses – one for parochial needs and the other for use in convents. This recording presents three parts of the Mass from the former – Et in Terra Pax, Benedicimus te and Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi.

Although the programme notes do not mention the fact, I understand that these pieces would have been played whilst the priests and deacons were celebrating: it was in the days before congregational participation in the words of the Mass. The music was meant to encourage the laity’s private devotions. These three numbers are very beautiful and deserve to be better known.

Most recitals have to have a little touch of J.S.B. And this one is no exception. Wir glšuben all' an einen Gott BWV680 is from the collection of keyboard works called the Third Part of the Clavier ‹bung.† The present chorale prelude is based on a tune used in the setting of the creed: the English translation of the title is We all believe in one true God. Alan McGuinness is well able to balance the restrained power and the surprising suavity of this† work.

One of the little treasures on this CD is the hymn tune Rhosymedre. Probably better known in its incarnation as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Prelude, it is nice to hear the original tune that was written within the bounds of the Diocese of St. Asaph. The Parish of Rhosymedre was established in 1844 and is situated in the River Dee valley. The first vicar of the parish, a certain Rev. John David Edwards wrote this tune during his time at the parish.

RVW wrote comparatively few works for the organ - or piano for that matter. Most impressive is the Prelude and Fugue in C minor. However his Prelude on Rhosymedre is probably the most popular and best known: it was the second of his Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymns. This is surely one of the loveliest pieces of organ music in the repertoire. It sounds surprisingly easy to play, but the simplicity belies a subtlety and poise that is near perfect. The other work by Vaughan Williams on this CD is the lesser known Romanza "The White Rock" which is the first of Two Organ Preludes founded on Welsh Folk Songs. The melody is based on ‘David of the White Rock’ and is an eighteenth century tune. Once again, this is a short but well wrought piece of self-possessed music.

I must confess that Herbert Howells's Master Tallis's Testament is not one of my personal favourites from his catalogue. To my ears it can appear a little bit stodgy. However McGuinness does bring a certain magic to this piece that has made me wonder if it is time I revisited my opinion of this work. Certainly he is well able to bring out the contrast between the Tallis’s Tudor influence and the composer’s 'characteristic harmonic idiom'. On the other hand the Psalm Tune Prelude Set 2 No. 1 is one of my favourite pieces of Howells. The music has a biblical superscription from Psalm 130 – ‘Out of the deep I have called unto thee, O Lord'. In spite of this music lasting for only eight minutes or so, this has the appearance of a massive and powerful statement of religious faith - which covers many emotions from anguish to perfect peace. It was dedicated to John Dykes Bower who had been appointed the organist of St Paul’s in 1936.

William Mathias, the founder of the North Wales International Music Festival in St. Asaph is well represented on this disc with three fine pieces. I have always been a great fan of his Processional, which was written in 1964. I can recall just about getting my fingers round this work when I used to play the church organ. Unlike Alan McGuinness I was hardly note perfect and the pedal part was largely ‘faked’. It is well performed here, even if a little restrained. The Choral which was written at Easter 1966 is introverted and quite mysterious: I guess it has more to do with a misty Welsh landscape than anything Anglican or churchy. Perhaps the most impressive of Mathias’s ‘warhorses’ is the colourful Recessional. This work, as its title implies, would be played at the end of a service as the congregation leaves the Cathedral. I would probably hang on until the organist finished! After an impressive tuba solo, the piece develops contrasting moods of ‘dark brooding’ material with a much brighter tune that nods back to the Processional.† The tuba solo at the conclusion banishes all care.

One of the best known pieces of organ music is Camille Saint-SaŽns’ superb Fantaisie in Db. This is a work that explores a variety of musical sections that include a fugato, an impressive maestoso and the opening and closing ‘rippling’ arpeggios. Altogether this is the ideal organ masterwork. It is given a fine performance on the St Asaph organ, which is remarkably suited to this music.

The most modern and demanding work here is that by Petr Eben. The Wedding in Cana is the last of his Four Biblical Dances. The music is meant to be a meditation on the ‘party’ at Cana: dance rhythms and toccata-like figurations develop into quite a complex and joyous event. This is not my favourite piece and I guess that the concept of a family knees-up and the Miracle at Cana may be a little incompatible to some believers!

This is an interesting CD with a well-balanced and well-thought out programme. I am glad that Alan McGuinness included some Welsh music and the Rhosymedre hymn tune before the RVW chorale prelude is well judged.

Excellent sound and interesting programme notes by the performer make this a good buy for organ enthusiasts. There is a first-class description of this excellent four-manual Hill organ and its successive restorations and the usual specification.

My only gripe is the ghastly front cover and the illegible notes on the back page of the sleeve-notes. I wish record producers would realise that not everyone has perfect eyesight and that printing blue text on a ‘rainbow’ background is hard to read. In fact I may not have bothered to read it all – and would have missed a great CD.

John France



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.