Notes on this Blog

Update: September 2010; Overall ratings of recitals are now to be stated as being out of 10, rather than 5. This increases the relative objectivity of the respective ratings between recitals.

This blog started in July 2010, as an e-resource with two main goals:
  1. To review, impartially, organ recitals that I attend in the UK, so that potential and actual members of the audience, and the performer alike, can read what I hope is a fair, balanced and unbiased account of events.
  2. To allow people who missed a recital they may have wished to attend to see what it was like, and what they missed (or didn't miss).

I am independent, and am not in any way affiliated (or at all directly or indirectly associated) with any bodies or venues named on this blog. I review all performances in the same way, so as to achieve and maintain my stated goals.

From now on, under 'Attendance' I will just report a rough number, rather than commenting on whether it is 'good', 'poor', 'excellent' etc. This is because attendance figures can be impacted by so many empirical variables (such as time, place, weather, a bus braking down, a blues concert down the road etc.) that it is not really accurate or meaningful, nor is it fair on the recitalist, to comment on numbers in this way.

I remain anonymous here, as to not do so impacts the impartiality of my postings.

I hope that people are reading these (what I hope come across as objective and fair) reviews with interest.

The Blogger

Friday, 20 August 2010

Durham Cathedral: Wednesday 18th August 2010, Matthew Martin

Durham Cathedral
Wednesday 18th August 2010
Matthew Martin: Assistant Master of Music, Westminster Cathedral

The Programme
  • Epiphanie. Gaston Litaize (1909-1991)
  • Elegy (Symphony in G minor). Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
  • Grand Dialogue (1696). Louis Marchand (1669-1732)
  • Trois Danses. Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
  • Chant de Paix and Chant heroique. Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
    (in memoriam Jehan Alain) (Neuf Pieces)
  • Corrente e Siciliano and Rigaudon alla burla (Partita in E, Op.10) Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)
  • Toccata (1991). Francis Pott (b. 1957)

Time: 19:30
Price: £8 (£6 conc.)
Attendance: Around 120
Star Rating: 3/5 ***

This recital made for a fitting end to the summer series at Durham Cathedral, delivered by the increasingly well known organist and composer, Matthew Martin. The introduction delivered by Matthew was very short and concise, but probably appropriate given that most were itching for the music to begin. The programme was varied, but of particular note towards the beginning was the Whitlock Elegy. This was so very melodic, and in places so sublime and peaceful that upon observation one could note that most people had their eyes closed, and many were slumped in their seats. Perhaps that was why he chose to place the Grand Dialogue afterwards, which most certainly woke people back up from their lullaby induced state.

The Alain Danses were rather lengthy, and needed to end when they did as a matter of certainty. However, in their jovial nature, these three movements were worth hearing, as are many such pieces from time to time. A highlight for me in the second half of the programme was the Langlais Chant heroique, which was executed with 'perfect' registration and speed, almost making the audience feel as though we weren't in the North East of England at all. In his introduction, Matthew had described the two Karg-Elert pieces towards the end of the programme as being rather unpleasant on the ear, and he wasn't wrong. In places they were discordant and frankly strange, and given he clearly knew this, perhaps the programme could have done without these, particularly as the recital on the whole was a little on the long side (an hour and twenty minutes). Nevertheless, these paved the way for the far more enjoyable Pott Toccata. Francis Pott is not an organist, but clearly writes some good music for the instrument. This made for a thrilling conclusion, making use of the magnificent Harrison Tuba stops at Durham Cathedral, and finished on a mighty chord of F sharp major. I very much enjoyed this recital, but it was perhaps a little long, and could have been equally as enjoyable if devoid of a couple of the items. On balance though, I am of course all for hearing new or rarely played music. Many thanks to Matthew for this recital and to Durham Cathedral for the organisation of another enjoyable series.

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