Wednesday 4th August 2010
Margaret Phillips: Professor of Organ, Royal College of Music, London
- Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV 545. JS Bach (1685-1750)
- Chorale Partita, Ach was soll ich Sunder machen, BWV 770. JS Bach (1685-1750)
- Allegro, Chorale & Fugue in D minor. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
- Andante Cantabile in G. Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
- Choral No 3 in A minor. Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
- Prelude & Fugue In Memoriam Maurice Durufle. Fredrik Sixten (b.1962)
- Andante, 'Choeur de Voix Humaines'. Louis Lefebure-Wely (1817-1869)
- Prelude et Danse Fuguee. Gaston Litaize (1909-1991)
Price: £8 (£6 conc.)
Attendance: About 140
Star Rating: 3/5 ***
This was an interesting recital, but one that I only partly enjoyed. The first mistake I made was not taking my programme from the previous recital by James Lancelot, as these contain all recitals, and cost £1 a go. The second mistake was to sit in the quire. The organ is FAR too loud when heard at 'full whack' from that part of the Cathedral. You are literally sandwiched between a really rather large organ in a rather small space - not great. Nevertheless, the organ was sensitively played for much of the programme, and a great variety of registration was used. Despite the penultimate piece sounding like a field full of sheep, given the extensive use of the Vox Humana stop (with a flute above it), most of the programme was very sensible.
Margaret was introduced after the usual introduction and prayer, and proceeded to give an interesting but rather brief synopsis of the pieces. To be honest, I think a lot of the audience though were more interested in her sparkly top. The Bach to open the recital was good, with a heavy duty but nicely voiced pedal reed below the manual chorus, although the Chorale Partita got extremely boring after what seemed like the 10th variation. The Wesley was a bit of a quiet reprieve after the rather grandly registered Mendelssohn beforehand, and of course was extremely fitting as in this year we celebrate the bi-centenary of Wesley's birth.
A particular highlight of this recital was the Franck Choral, which is one of my favourites. Margaret did well with making the rather English Harrison organ at Durham sound French, although the piece was played a little fast for my liking in places. The final piece is worth a mention, which was a most curious work, which seemed asthough it may have been composed as a joke! It was rather vigorous, random, and ended on the most unpleasant but somehow thrilling full organ sound the organ could have made, with the big Tubas sounding more or less next to us. This was when it became a bit too loud, and it must have been pretty loud for me to say that. Still, it was worth going to hear, although I would have preferred a little more genuine interest here and there, and to have been sat somewhere else on a more comfortable seat. [NOTE: the stalls in the quire at Durham are NOT comfortable seating].