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

Monday, 13 September 2010

York Minster: Saturday 4th September 2010, Simon Nieminski

York Minster
Saturday 4th September 2010
Simon Nieminski: Organist, St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh

The Programme
  • Fanfare for St John's. Philip Moore (b.1943)
  • Polonaise in A, Op.40 No.1. Trans. W.T. Best. Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)
  • Mr Bach's Bottle Bank. Giles Swayne (b.1946)
  • Nocturne in E flat, Op.9 No.2. Trans. William Faulkes. Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)
  • Scherzetto and Fugue on the name FRANCIS JACKSON, Op.15. John Scott Whiteley (b.1950)
  • Suite: Scenes on the Wye. Frederick Wood (1880-1963)
    iii: Tintern
    iv: Symonds Yat
  • Improvisation on a Chant of John Goss. Francis Jackson (b.1917)
  • Symphonic Fantasia and Fugue, Op.57 'The Inferno'. Max Reger (1873-1916)

Time: 19:00
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 250
Rating: 8/10

This organ recital, by a former York Minster organ scholar, was one of the most energetic and 'fun' performances I have experienced at the Minster. The first thing to say about this is do not be fooled by the programme, or more specifically the volume of it. The pieces that came before the big work, the Reger 'Inferno' that concluded, were mostly relatively short, at well below 10 minutes each. What was particularly nice to see was the Chopin bi-centenary marked with two piano transcriptions for organ being played, and most notably the popular Polonaise in A. These transcriptions worked wonderfully on the organ, and this perhaps highlights the wealth of extra repertoire that can be (and is being) garnered for all kinds of instruments with mature and effective transcription, but particularly between such as keyboard instruments.

Another thing to note from this recital was the presence of compositions by no less than three Minster organists. The contributions of Francis Jackson, Philip Moore and John Scott Whiteley were all appreciably noted by people in the audience, and indeed by myself. The most recent work of these, by John Scott Whiteley, was written to mark Dr Jacksons 90th birthday. It started off intriguingly on flutes, and built up to the most splendid conclusion.

The piece named 'Mr Bach's Bottle Bank' by Giles Swayne had a very cheeky feel to it indeed, with a rather surprising ending. Not performed as a work very often, it was clearly to the taste of the performer. Performed even less often however is the Max Reger 'Inferno', which was brimming with all kinds of musical colour and indeed enticed and ultimately professed an enormous forcefulness from the organ and the performer alike. There are few words to describe a work of this scale, other than to say that it is probably one of the most immense pieces of music ever written down. The mighty concluding passage left myself at least yearning for more. This was a marvellous opportunity to hear what is a much underperformed, but obviously very difficult, work.

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