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, 29 August 2010

York Minster: Saturday 28th August 2010, Susan Landale

York Minster
Saturday 28th August 2010
Susan Landale: Professor of Organ, Royal Academy of Music, London.

The Programme
  • Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582. JS Bach (1685-1750)
  • Chorale setting (Orgelbuchlein): O Mensch bewein dein Sunde gross, BWV 622. JS Bach (1685-1750)
  • Choral III in A Minor. Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
  • Sonata II in C Minor, Op.65. Felix-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
    Allegro maestoso e vivace
    Fuga, allegro moderato
  • Variations on: Weinen, Klagen Zorgen, Sagen. Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Time: 19:00
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 250
Star Rating: 3/5 ***

Susan Landale is an organ teacher of great standing, and has worked extensively in France in recent times. Therefore, her authority over French organ music is largely unquestionable. John Scott Whiteley gave an informative and insightful introduction to the music, particularly so in relation to the final piece. The two items of Bach that opened the recital were registered well, and included a nice reed on the pedal, which wasn't too 'heavy' or 'in your face', adding a pleasant and yet solid foundation to the music. The second item made a particularly stirring use of the tremulant on the organ.

The Franck Choral was an interesting interpretation, unlike any other I had heard. It used a great French 'reedy' sound, and was played with authority. Susan has recorded the complete organ works of Cesar Franck previously, so she was clearly familiar with the work, and undoubtedly the music of Franck in general. Nevertheless, the only let down to this for myself was perhaps the way that there wasn't much of a build up towards the end, nor did she 'slow down' for the final minute or so, as I think is customary. This was Franck's final work, completed so close to his death that he never had chance to hear it. As it is widely seen as one of his finest pieces of music, I would have preferred to have taken more from it, particularly at the close.

The piece that stood out the most for myself, and undoubtedly for others too, was the Liszt variations on Weinen, Klagen Zorgen, Sagen, which translates to variations on weeping, lamenting grieving and searing. In 1862, Liszt went to Rome following the death of his daughter (his son had already died in his arms in 1859), where he wrote this piece. It features sections of enormous sadness, a descent in to the horrors of Hell, and draws to an end with a real feeling of hope and peace, followed up with an immense conclusion. Clearly meant as a piece of great emotion and power, it was played brilliantly on this strain by Susan. She reflected so well the obvious feelings of Liszt as he wrote the music, and the York organ spoke finely throughout in all sections, not least during the thunderous pedal passages alongside the biggest reeds of the organ sounding together at the end. This made for a great end to this recital, and it was this piece that really made it enjoyable and worthwhile attending for me.

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