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

Ripon Cathedral: Tuesday 3rd August 2010, John Scott Whiteley

Ripon Cathedral
Tuesday 3rd August 2010
John Scott Whiteley: Organist - York Minster

The Programme
  • Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), arr. JS Bach (1685-1750)
    Allegro - Adagio - Allegro
  • Passacaglia. John Scott Whiteley (b.1950)
  • Variations on Adeste Fideles. Marcel Dupre (1886-1971), trans. Rollin Smith
  • Papillons Noirs (from 13 Preludes, Op.69). Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), trans. Whiteley
  • Sonata Eroica, Op94. Joseph Jongen (1873-1953)
  • Imperial Echoes. Arnold Safroni (1873-1950), trans. Whiteley
  • Lento & Final (from Symphonie en Improvisation). Pierre Cochereau (1924-1984), trans. Whiteley

Time: 19:30
Price: £7.50
Attendance: Around 75
Star Rating: 4.5/5 ****'

In a word, wow. I could talk about this for some time, but will try to remain concise. I should start by saying just how much I love the fine Harrison organ at Ripon - it's a stunner, and a little known gem that is capable of making some serious music, in to a better than expected acoustic. And with that in mind, it could not have been better showcased than by this recital by John Scott Whiteley, the, as the programme said, 'distinguished Organist of York Minster'. Whilst this isn't a place to produce a biography of the recitalist, it is particularly notable that John is in fact the man in the dark glasses on the popular 21st Century Bach TV series, which is apparently ongoing.

The recital in itself was one of the best I have heard at Ripon Cathedral. It is hard to pick out any particular highlights, but I must pay attention to the Passacaglia, heard as the second item, which is a recent one of Johns own compositions. John had provided detailed notes inside the programme on this piece, and it clearly reflected a number of moods and colours, in what seemed a very personal manner. It was extremely powerful as a piece of music, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it. The finale was truly magnificent, and finished on a really rather 'perfect' chord, which was highlighted so well by this organ.

Another piece of note was the epic Sonata Eroica by Jongen. This, one of my favourite pieces of all time, was the big one I had looked forward to for many days beforehand. And I was not disappointed. I am sure many would agree that we were hearing this piece played by a world authority on this composer, and John absolutely brought this to life, not least through his stunning registrations, but also through the sheer energy and passion he put in to the performance. This piece of music brings back a lot of memories and thoughts for me, and I was particularly moved by this performance.

Equally special was the Cochereau to finish, with a blast of the mighty full organ at Ripon to conclude. What really gave this particular recital something extra was the interesting, and really rather entertaining talks by John inbetween each piece. John clearly has a fantastic sense of humour, in addition to a flawless technique. This was such an enjoyable evening in every way that I just had to push the boundaries, and give it 4.5/5. Not allowed? Justified!

No comments:

Post a Comment