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

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ripon Cathedral: Tuesday 13th July 2010, David Briggs

Ripon Cathedral
Tuesday 13th July 2010

David Briggs: Concert Organist & Organist Emeritus, Gloucester Cathedral

The Programme:

  • 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)

Price: £10
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.

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