Saturday 4th September 2010
Simon Nieminski: Organist, St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh
- 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)
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)
Price: £8 (Season ticket available for £50, reducing the series per recital cost to £6.25)
Attendance: Around 250
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.