Tuesday 13th July 2010
David Briggs: Concert Organist & Organist Emeritus, Gloucester Cathedral
- Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565. JS Bach (1685-1750)
- Improvisation on a theme hummed by the audience.
- Improvisation to the silent film of The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Attendance: High, around 300.
Star Rating: 5/5 *****
This unusual recital on the magnificent Harrison organ of Ripon Cathedral began with a spectacular rendition of the 'most famous piece of organ music of all time', the Bach T&F. It was, impressively, performed from memory in its entirety. David added an enormous amount of 'fun' in to the performance, doing extra 'twiddly bits' where he saw fit, and really making it a really fun performance. Whilst obviously not authentic in this sense, it made what I often find an over played and, dare I say at times made to be quite a boring piece of music, thoroughly enjoyable. It was a magnificent opening to a wonderful evening. Following this, David engaged with the audience in asking them to give him notes at random. From this, a succession of notes was strung together which he made everyone hum together, and he then improvised for about 10 minutes on this theme. The best feature of this was of course the way David made the audience feel so involved in what was being played.
However the best was yet to come. Following a short break, the Phantom of the Opera silent film of 1925 was played, with equipment seemingly provided by Keith Hearnshaw, and David Briggs performed a stunning improvisation which so clearly reflected the events taking place on the large screen, erected in the darkened cathedral beyond where the nave console was being played from. David had said beforehand this was the 185th performance of this work, and whilst never the same every time, I am sure he had a pretty fair idea of where it was all going! Many recognisable themes emerged, enticing amusement from the audience, such as 'Ten Green Bottles' and 'Nessum Dorma' among numerous others. David built this up to a magnificent climax and played a short while after the credits rolled, as a kind of finale. Naturally, David was thanked with rapturous and prolonged applause, and I thanked him personally for providing such a splendid evening. 5 stars.