The Organ of Guildford Cathedral
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cantata BWV29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir: Overture [4:40]
Bist du bei mir, BWV508 [2:13]
Guy BOVET (b.1942)
C HAMPTON (1938-1984)
At the Ballet [3:39]
G. F. HANDEL (1685-1759)
Water Music: Hornpipe [3:36]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Psalm-Preludes Set 1, Op. 32: No. 1 [6:36]
David JOHNSON (1922-1988)
Trumpet Tune in A [3:21]
L J A LEFEBURE-WELY (1817-1869)
Sortie in E flat major [4:37]
Tarik O'REGAN (b.1978)
Colimaçon for organ [3:39]
Max REGER (1873-1916)
Toccata in D minor, Op. 59 No. 5 [3:23]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Prélude and Fugue Op. 99 No. 2 in B major [7:09]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Pièces de fantaisie, 2nd suite, Op. 53: No. 3, Hymne au soleil [4:54]
Pièces en style libre, Op. 31: No. 19, Berceuse [4:15]
Percy WHITLOCK (1903-1946)
Five Short Pieces: Folk Tune [3:47]
Charles WOOD (1866-1926)
Nunc Dimittis [3:21]
Katherine Dienes-Williams (organ), David Davies (organ)
rec. 2009 Guildford Cathedral
HERALD HAVPCD 371 [77:16]
This disc is a joint venture by the two organists of Guildford Cathedral; Davies has since moved on to Exeter Cathedral. It forms an eclectic mix of the well-known and the unfamiliar.
The first of the unfamiliar works is by Calvin Hampton and played by Dienes-Williams. Hampton was an important American composer and this movement is from a set of five dances. The melody is in the pedal whilst the manuals provide accompaniment. This piece shows off some of the lighter colours of the organ. Tarik O’Regan’s contribution, also performed by Dienes-Williams, contains some influences similar to Hampton’s but is more thoroughly worked out using a spiral structure. Percy Whitlock is a name fairly familiar to organists but his other works are seldom performed. Folk Tune, performed by Davies, is a typical example of Whitlock’s unique harmonic language. The weighty string stops of the organ are the precise sound-world that Whitlock would have intended for this piece. Davies displays ample musical sensitivity in his treatment of this miniature masterpiece. Charles Wood is better known for his choral music – O Thou the Central Orb is a staple of many a church or cathedral choir. He wrote little music for organ but this Nunc Dimittis uses the same ideas that are associated with his choral music. However, these fall a bit flat here, Dienes-Williams’ interpretation is commendable but there isn’t really much to work with. Salamanca by Guy Bovet is certainly this composer’s most well-known piece and is often performed as an encore at recitals. The composition started life as an improvisation at the Cathedral of Salamanca and starts with ‘drum beats’ on the pedal before developing into quite a substantial work using Spanish flavours and rhythms. Dienes-Williams’ performance is very exciting. Often this work is played too quickly and some of the grandeur is lost but here it is given enough space so that there is clarity and precision.
The more familiar works on this CD are all standard repertoire for organists. The Bach pieces are particularly successful. The orchestral nature of this instrument and the registration chosen by Dienes-Williams, combine to create a really rather special performance. Another highlight is Davies’ performance of Reger’s Toccata in D minor. Reger’s music is very difficult to manage on many English organs, the instruments that he knew had a Rollschweller, which changed the stops in a pre-set order when the performer moves the pedal. The organ tries to keep up with Davies’ virtuosity but doesn’t quite manage it and the sounds aren’t quite right. For other Reger recordings the complete works on Naxos - played by various different organists - are quite good. The piece best matched to this very English instrument and a truly outstanding performance, is Howells’ Psalm-Prelude. Dienes-Williams captures every detail. It’s a good composition and here it shines through her vast skill.
Overall, this is a great gift-shop souvenir - its intended purpose – and contains some wonderful playing deserving of a wider audience. Both organists should be justly proud of their contribution and further recordings should be eagerly awaited.
This is a liberal mixture of the familiar and the new – with an incredibly high performance standard.