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, 6 August 2010

York Minster: Saturday 7th August 2010, Simon Lindley

York Minster
Saturday 7th August 2010
Simon Lindley: Organist of Leeds Parish Church & Leeds Town Hall

The Programme
  • Fanfare (1956). Francis Jackson (b.1917)
  • Finale en forme d'ouverture. Alfred Hollins (1865-1942)
  • Variations: Victimae Paschali laudes (2001). Alan Spedding (b.1938)
  • Plymouth Suite. Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
    Allegro risoluto
  • Annunciation (2000). Judith Bingham (b.1952)
  • Elizabethan Serenade. Ronald Binge (1910-1979)
  • Sonata in C Minor, the 94th Psalm. Julius Reubke (1834-1858)

Time: 19:00
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 100
Star Rating: 4/5 ****

This was a superb recital, and a far improvement from last Saturday. This for me marked the start of the summer series at York. We had a brief introduction from John Scott Whiteley, the Minster Organist, and despite the malfunction of the microphone, we could still hear him well! The recital was, in typical Dr Lindley fashion, filled with colour and variety, and some more contemporary pieces were thrown in for good measure.

I happened to notice that Dr Francis Jackson CBE was in the audience. Perhaps this was to hear his own 1956 Fanfare, which was played with distinction by Simon. It was a nice way to open the recital, and very appropriately applied given the setting, and was only a couple of dignified minutes in length. The Variations by Spedding, the Organist Emeritus of Beverley Minster, were a bit long for me, although I did enjoy some, particularly the final one. These were filled with variations (cunning) in colour and tonality, which were undoubtedly enjoyed by the audience, and were a real time for reflection.

There were two big pieces if you like in this programme. The first was the Whitlock Plymouth Suite. The first and last movements are really enjoyable, with a recurring theme in the pedals and are good fun for the ear. We heard the Solo division Bombarde en Chamade stop, which points east in to the quire, which was stunningly applied in the magnificent Toccata. The two pieces that followed I had never encountered before, but I enjoyed them both. The Bingham was rather abstract, but added interesting variety to the programme. The Binge Serenade was lovely, and went exactly where you wanted it to go. It was of course placed rather as a 'calm before the storm' piece!

This is because what followed was truly wonderful. The magnificent Reubke Sonata on the 94th Psalm was the jewel in the crown for this recital. Performed in this magnificent setting and acoustic there is no wonder that one falls in love with this music. It is a tragedy that Reubke died at the tender age of 24. If you read Psalm 94, it tells a wonderful story. The triumph of good over evil and the majesty of God could not be conveyed more effectively in music. Simon played this exquisitely, and made good use of the resources of the York Minster organ. The build up to the climax was truly spine chilling, and the big (well, enormous) 'cathedral rumble' on the pedals was used so well, with an effect of grandeur beyond description. The big final chords, with the addition of the huge Tuba Mirabilis that points in to the nave, made for a splendid climax. Whilst the Tuba Mirabilis cannot be heard to great effect in the quire end of the cathedral, it can certainly be heard 'coming back at you', and during the acoustic decay, with an enormous effect. Goosebumps all round, perhaps! Thanks to Simon for such a splendid recital and choosing such a wonderful programme.

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