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

Sunday, 8 August 2010

York Minster: Saturday 14th August 2010, Francis Jackson

York Minster
Saturday 14th August 2010
Francis Jackson: Organist Emeritus, York Minster

The Programme:
  • Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543, 'The Great'. JS Bach (1685-1750)
  • Sonata in E flat (1937). Edward C. Bairstow (1874-1946)
    Andante serioso, ma con moto
    Allegro giocoso
  • Capriccio, Op.103. Francis Jackson (b.1917)
    Legend, Op. 79.
  • Prelude in the form of a Toccata, Op.88, No.3. Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
  • Andante in G (from Three Pieces, c.1841). Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
  • Carillon de Westminster, Op.54, No.6. Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Time: 19:00
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 300
Star Rating: 4/5 ****

As is the case year on year, this was a very special organ recital at York Minster. Dr Jackson is a very well regarded composer and recitalist, and naturally, his playing at York is a constant reminder of how he must have known this organ for 80 years, perhaps since he became a chorister in 1929. A fitting introduction, filled with admiration from Minster Organist John Scott Whiteley, informed us of how this was his 55th recital in the annual summer series. Frankly, it is impressive to think that at well over 90 years young Dr Jackson is able to youthfully ascend to this, or any, organ console, and THEN give a recital to a large audience that includes some major works.

The recital started with 'The Great' Bach Prelude & Fugue in A Minor, which was executed with enthusiasm and zeal. The Fugue in particular demonstrated Dr Jackson's mastery over this organ. Other highlights included Jackson's own Capriccio, which made excellent use of virtually all available types of sound from the instrument, and reached an encapsulating conclusion. The Wesley Andante Cantabile in G was most appropriate, given that it was on this day (14th August) that 200 years ago the reputable composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley was born, who was notably the great-nephew of the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley. This fact, amongst others could be found on the comprehensive additional programme notes, which apparently Dr Jackson had produced himself. The highlight of this recital though was the Sonata in Eb. Composed in 1937, by the then Organist of York Minster Sir Edward Bairstow, Dr Jackson first performed this in 1938 at the very organ he performed it on to us tonight, some 72 years and 4 months later. It was a piece clearly dear to Jackson's heart, and he was obviously able to perform it with immense authenticity.

Overall this was an enjoyable, and notably well attended organ recital, and despite a couple of what seemed to be misfired pistons in the final piece, was very well played and registrations were chosen very tastefully, with a clearly profound knowledge of the organ and indeed the cathedral itself, in mind.

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