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Buxtehude, Bach, Alain etc (Music for Organ)

Dietrich Buxtehude
(1637-1707) - Praeludium in C major BuxWV137 - Canzonetta BuxWV171

Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) - Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Albinoni (1671-1751) - Adagio in G minor

JS Bach (1685-1750) - Fugue in Eb BWV552

ArvoPärt (b. 1935) - Trivium

Huw Morgan (b. 1975) - Cofion Cynnes am Davies

Jehan Alain (1911-1940) - Trois Pièces

Huw Morgan at the organ of St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, 12 June 2010

- one of the finest instruments in London, and is the venue for the recordings by Michael Bonaventure of Contemporary British Organ Music, to be launched on SFZ Music at a recital there July 17th at 6.30pm. - -

This organ (1982 J C Lewis, completely restored 1999 with the console reinstated on south side of the choir) is a marvel, enhanced by the excellent acoustics of St John's Church itself (it was easy to hear Huw Morgan's helpful introductions in the nave).

It has an infinite range of colours and power, never oppressive however loud at the climaxes of the music. Buxtehude via Bach's St Anne fugue to Alain made a fine journey. On the way a delicate little piece by Buxtehude to show off the quieter stops and a charmer of Homilius.

In the scond half we heard how Arvo Pärt, an unappreciated modernist in the Soviet Union, reinvented himself as a "mystic minimalist" with "exquisitely subtle, consonant music which resonates with the sound-world and technique of the medieval and Renaissance masters". The tri-partite Trivium, one of Pärt's tintinnabulist works, left us wondering why the middle section had some of the loudest music heard in the recital? Huw Morgan's own suite of little pieces were small sketches depicting episodes of the varied life of its dedicatee.

Jehan Alain, his life cut short aged twenty-nine by a German bullet 70 years ago in the defence of Saumur, is one of the unquestioned greats amongst organ music composers. He has been championed by his sister Marie-Claire Alain, who recorded alll his works, which I had on LP. Litanies made a magnificent finish to this recital, one which will be remembered for fine playing and, for those who didn't know it, for the magnificent ambience of St John's, well worth a special journey.

Peter Grahame Woolf