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

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

York Minster: Saturday 11th September 2010, Robert Sharpe

York Minster
Saturday 11th September 2010
Robert Sharpe: Director of Music, York Minster

The Programme
  • Concerto No2 in G Minor (1815). Matthew Camidge (1764-1844)
    i) Adagio
    ii) Allegro
    iii) Adagio
    iv) Gavotta
  • Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV 552, "St Anne". J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
  • Scherzo in G Minor, Op.49, No.2. Marco Enrico Bossi (1861-1925)
  • Grande Piece Symphonique, Op.17. Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
    i) Andantino serioso - Allegro non troppo e maestoso
    ii) Andante - Allegro
    iii) Andante - Andantino serioso - Allegro

Time: 19:00
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 300
Rating: 9/10

It would be fair to say that this recital contained something for everybody. Indeed, we had music from Germany, France, Italy and England, all of which heralded all expected of their very characteristic isotypic styles. One thing that was particularly nice here, as with other Cathedrals and churches when this happens, was to hear the Director of Music actually play the organ. Most often they are seen directing the choir, despite them more often than not being very well regarded as organists. Robert Sharpe is no exception, and is well established as a recitalist of some quality.

With this of course in mind, nobody was in any way let down by this recital. The charming opening, that of the second Concerto by Camidge, was so pleasant on the ear and registered in an authentic style for the period of writing. Camidge was Organist of York Minster between 1799 and 1842, and was part of the infamous Camidge family that provided York Minster with Organists for a period of well over 100 years. This composition, whilst conservative in its writing, is of such soundly solid construction, and in parts so divinely delicate and detailed, that one almost wanted to applaud each fine movement.

We then moved forward in to the very popular "St Anne" Prelude and Fugue by Bach. Another of his big works with a nickname for which nobody seems to have an explanation (do get in touch if you do), it reaches one of the most dramatic climaxes that Bach had ever written for the organ, and in doing so, is another of the favourites in the organ repertoire. It was executed boldly and with sensitivity by Robert, a combination that is perhaps not easily achieved, and this made the forever deeply revered ending in to an utterly sparkling conclusion.

Of continuing interest were the remaining pieces of the programme, and first was the Scherzo by the Italian organist and composer, Marco Bossi. This was played in a truly thrilling manner, with occasional blasts on the Tuba Mirabilis, tastefully selected, and indeed reminiscent of the recordings made in the 1960s by Dr Francis Jackson, who rather nicely then held the position now held by Robert. This piece certainly looked very difficult to play when viewed on the big screen showing the console and performer, and the results were both aurally and visually inspiring. The final item, and one of the 'great organ works' that the York recital series has this year been renowned for, was the Franck Grande Piece Symphonique. Few words can be used to describe this, one of the earliest French organ symphonies, with justice. However, what can be described justifiably was the stunning performance of the work given by Robert, reaching a thrilling and dramatic climax. This recital was most certainly one of the highlights of the so far 2010 series at York.

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